Once upon a time, Facebook wasn’t a creepy social concoction that sits in judgement like old wedding photos from old weddings. It was where people met. Serious.
I believe I came across The Danbury Lie (Rob) through a Facebook post from Joe Wolfe Mazares (Ear 2 The Ground in Nashville) which led me to the first EP. I was intrigued. I think I went so far as to share it with real enthusiasm.
The sound was acoustic, but this wasn’t folk. Or…it was folk if folk was developed in a universe where Metallica and Woody Guthrie shared gigs. Dual attack harmony acoustic, lyrics full of menace, an almost chanting style of multiple Liar vocals. It’s world music in a dangerous world.
Since then, The Danbury Lie has made a movie, with soundtrack…wrote a book….put out about 12 new records…and moved away.
JpK: OK, so I noticed this was recorded in West Seattle and mastered in CT. Did you do the mix in Seattle? Was anyone else involved in the recording?
Rob: I did all the tracking, at a house I sublet for the month of March in West Seattle. I did a two-channel mix out from the 8-track I was using. I usually isolated the vocals so there could be more flexibility with where they sat in the final mixes. The files were then sent to Simon Tuozzoli to master. He recorded most of the stuff I’ve put out in the last five years.
JpK: What I first noticed was it was more similar in tone to the first Danbury Lie record and “The Great Jester.” Which means it’s like the world exists as it does today but with less electricity. How do you write the songs? I’m especially curious about where you get your titles.
Rob: That’s hilarious. On this album all the songs besides “Dog” are basically studio improvisations. Coming up with a guitar part, recording it, layering hand drum or tambourine on it, figuring out vocals and added instrumentation on top of it as I go along. The past stuff was all much more carefully written out. It’s nice to do something with a looser feel and just play around more.
JpK: I find it interesting that you record your material in virtual hermit-tude. Do you find that you second-guess yourself with no one else hearing what you’re doing? I found that once I tried to take recording seriously, I second guessed everything and wouldn’t let anyone hear until it was done.
Rob: I’m pretty good at not second-guessing myself when recording, but I find that the more time I spend with a song, often the more it sounds “normal.” Like on “Tastes Like TV,” I built the song around a guitar track and then wound up taking the guitar almost entirely out of the song so that the bass would be the main instrument. If I played with it long enough I probably would have second-guessed myself until the guitar was right back up high in the mix.
JpK: I love the opener “It’s Not Happening.” Where did you get the crowd sounds from? I’m guessing some Kiss record.
Rob: The crowd sounds in “It’s Not Happening” are from an online sound bank. I actually wrote a short essay about how this song was recorded that will probably be online before this interview.
JpK: Can you talk about the new video for “It’s Not Happening”? I love it. Dark and squirrelly. With the space needle taking the place of gargantuan Mars killing machines ala War o’ The Worlds.
Rob: Yeah, I have a ton of random footage taken from my adventures in the past 9 months so I just threw a bunch of random stuff together and loaded it up with trippy video effects. The stuff from the football stadium kinda works well with the crowd noise in the song.
JpK: I admire the way you work in multiple formats, whether the movie, or soundtrack to the movie, the records or the book….and a recognizable voice throughout all. It’s the start of The Danbury Lie Brand.
Rob: Word. JpK: “Tastes Like TV” seems like a pretty great update on Zappa “I’m the Slime.” Spooky and off-kilter. Do you know that song? Rob: Have not heard that Zappa song but I’ll definitely check it out.
JpK: “The Heroes That Binge.” Yeah this is why I really listened to you. The acoustic sound. Multiple layers but pure wood (pun intended) …. I love the drive of this…..the hook. And freaking whistle. This is great pure Lie here. What’s the hook line about fashion?
Rob: The hook in “Heroes That Binge” is “the masses are fascists.” Most of the lyrics in that tune are just me listing off band names I came up with before deciding to stick with The Danbury Lie.
JpK: That’s hilarious… .just listing off band names prior to the Lie. Christ … “Dog.” Yeah I can see how this song is slightly more structured. Were this lyrics first? I’m really liking the theremin sounds you’re using on this record.
Rob: I pretty much came up with the guitar riff and chorus for “Dog” at the same time. It’s a pretty straightforward song.
JpK: “Ant Holocaust.” Oh yeah. Thus is real creepy shit. I love the building beat through the news clips. Are you eccentric? Would ya say?
Rob: “Ant Holocaust” is inspired by a true story. The house I recorded in had an ant problem that needed to be dealt with. I don’t know if I’d call myself eccentric, but maybe you should ask the people living next door that heard me yelling “join the plans for the ant holocaust!” repeatedly into a microphone.
JpK: Digging “Native Cry.” I’ve always dug your voice … Okay. I’ve diagnosed it. During “Mass Awakening” … I always liked the Lie because it makes me feel like there’s deeper things beneath the sound. Like real sinister shit. Like this song could be just an awesome jam or the calling of Cthulhu. I generally associated it with Satanism. So seriously. Are you here to bring about the apocalypse?
Rob: Nah, I’m just here hangin’ out.