Over 10 years ago Nada Surf were playing the same sort of music as the likes of the Strokes and The Hives. In a twist of fate as the press lourdes over any band from New York, Nada Surf change the game plan and release "Let Go" - an album of exquisite beauty and lush vocal harmonies. Still after the problems with their second album "The Proximity Effect" the fact they had a label and make the music they desired was enough for them. We caught up with lead vocalist Matthew Caws who talks us through the band whose every song we recorded could be a number 1 single, but just not on this planet.
Q: The recent album "Let Go" is somewhat of a departure for the band. For those who are getting into the band this time round on the Vines tour or maybe they've heard the single on radio. What's changed over the few years since "The Proximity Effect"?
A: We used to be a bit rockier, but this is definately our quietest record. This is less an attack through the speakers because we used to really get off just hitting people with it. I think "Let Go" draws you in a little more and obviously our first record was 6 years ago so we've changed quite a bit. One weird thing is that we were recently in France and the press were saying we've discovered melancholy...and we were always that way, but with the guitars the vocals were always struggling for space.
Q: I think what makes "Let Go" such an amazing record is that each time you listen to you'll discover subtle touches that weren't there last time you listened. Even on the quieter songs it's as if there's this background melody tucked away. Is that the effect you were trying to achieve?
A: I'm really into this record John Lee Hooker record called "Country Blues" which just has foot tapping in the background of the whole album. Were really into the recording process and we kind of produced this one ourselves along with our friend Louie Lino who played keyboards on the album. I really like that textural stuff and I really like albums where each listen you discover stuff. There are so many parts to a song which make it important and the mood is really one of them. Obviously it's about chords and stuff, but the atmosphere is important and that can really be about the sound of one instrument.
Q: After what happened with the "Proximity Effect" in America, was it quite a daunting process recording a new record without a label?
A: We had a few months where everything sucked, but recording wise we could have had a record label before but we knew that there was no point in having a label on board before we had the third album finished. And with that it was like making our first album all over again because it had been so long since that last single it was impossible to recapture anything so if they wanted us it must be because they wanted us for what we were doing now - which was really important.
I don't think when we recorded the album we believed every song could be a single. I think it was a case of every song we recorded could be a number 1 single, but not on this planet. Every song I've ever sung has been a single - what's not a single?
Q: We were chatting to another New Yorker earlier today, Jesse Malin, who was saying that despite what the British press trys to portray New York as there isn't that creativity there used to be. What's you opinion on the city at the moment?
A: Well Jesse Malin's got a different opinion because he owned a club and they really got screwed over by the government and the major. And the scene that he came from with D Generation and these kind of New York Dolls punk bands are gone a little now. But for us there is so much going on...even in our neighbourhood there's great stuff happenning at all artistic levels.
There's this Lizard Lounge event every so often where they have about 30 songs by one artist in the same night. So it might be Roxy Music or Brian Wilson and you get bands coming together to do covers of that artist and we've done it as Nada Surf and also just jamming up there with other bands. And what's good is that we get to meet musicians of all different age groups rather than just our generation.
Q: As we said earlier it was four year gap between "The Proximity Effect" and "Let Go". Is it going to be a case of another hiatus or are you on a roll now?
A: It will be at least 2 years, but not anywhere near four. I'm kind of glad that period's over now and much of the reason for the wait was down to the problems with the second album. The album isn't out in the States until February 2003 so we've got to tour throughout next year as well and after that we'll start thinking about the next album.
"Let Go" is out now on Heavenly
The band tour throughout November / December with Ed Harcourt
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