Other Lives, an indie five piece from Oklahoma released their second studio album ‘Tamer Animals’ this summer and made made their first Irish appearance at the Academy last Saturday. Orlatih Grehan put a few questions to Jonathon Mooney ahead fo the show.
Tamer Animals has been very well received across the board since its release a few months ago. It took 14 months to make, so are you pleased with how the album’s turned out?
We are. We still feel we’re in the beginning stages of getting this record out there because we have another year to go on the road but we’ve been really pleased by the response and the reviews.
You recorded the album in your own studio in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Was it a creative environment to work in, and did it help to shape the sound of the album?
We have a studio in Stillwater that we’re absolutely in love with. We just have a connection with it. The room itself is really present in the record and it turned out in its favor.
How exactly did the songwriting process work? Do the songs come about collaboratively, or do you take a more personal approach?
Typically on this record Jesse would come up with a song idea and he and I would get in the studio and figure the instrumentation, arrangements, production, sounds and lyrics together. It was a long process which took solid 40 hour work weeks for over a year, but it was one of the best years of our lives. We had a great time making this record because we had complete freedom and were able to control every aspect of the music and recording.
You’ve spoken about how Philip Glass, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Ennio Morricone have all provided inspiration for your music. What other interests and influences make an impact in your songwriting?
Classical music has been very influential to us the past several years. During the production of this record we wanted to incorporate what we love about classical and instrumental music into the songs.
You’ve been touring extensively since the album’s release. Given the wealth of arrangements and instruments on this record, how does the experience of playing the songs live compare to the recording process?
During the recording of this record we didn’t give any mind to the feasibility of playing this record live. We tracked everything one instrument at a time. At first it was a little daunting trying to reproduce the record live but it just means we all have to stay very busy on stage.
Much of Tamer Animals was written on the road. Are you working on new material as you’re touring now again?
Yes, there’s always writing being done whether on the road or at home. We’re always thinking about what’s next and how we can progress musically. There’s no point in which we’ll be content with where we are musically.
Your sound has been described as very “American”, drawing comparisons with the likes of Fleet Foxes and Midlake. Is this something you’d agree with, or how would you describe it yourself?
There are a few sides to our music, and we probably do draw from similar influences on a few songs but on other songs we don’t quite see it.
Other Lives started out as an instrumental group (Kunek) and there’s been some considerable changes between your debut album and this second one. Do you see think the band will continue to develop and evolve for the next record?
For sure, we never want to repeat ourselves. We’re always discussing, writing, and thinking about what could be the next direction musically.
You’ve worked with some much-respected names like Darrell Thorp and Joey Waronker in the past. How did that come about, and is there anyone else you’d like to collaborate with in the future?
We were matched up with them through our manager on our debut record and were really impressed. We ended up making a lasting relationship with Joey and worked with him on this last record as well. He’s one of the most tasteful people I know and has an amazing ear. He mixed this last record and really made up for some of my deficiencies as an engineer.