Progress Report

Progress Report: Spencer Krug

NAME: Spencer Krug (Swan Lake, Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade)
PROGRESS REPORT: Releasing Enemy Mine with Swan Lake on March 24; editing untitled Sunset Rubdown LP for release this summer; recording a marimba-based EP for release in summer/fall; writing songs with Wolf Parade.

A full Spencer Krug Progress Report should be 1500 words; he’s got three active bands to juggle and a lot to say about each one. But what’s really interesting about Krug is the way he approaches making albums. He missed my interview call three times because he was sleeping in after working on music until 6 a.m. He describes writing songs with Carey Mercer and Dan Bejar in Swan Lake, or with Dan Boekner in Wolf Parade, as fun with old friends. He’s “only” going on three or four tours this year. But Krug describes his own songs on Swan Lake’s upcoming second release, Enemy Mine, as “rushed.” And when he looks back on Sunset Rubdown’s last release, 2007’s excellent Random Spirit Lover, he’s also self-critical. “I think it was a good idea. I don’t know if it was executed properly,” he says, before listing off all the problems with the record’s sound, songwriting, and lyrics. “I don’t want you to think I hate what I do. I love making music. I don’t always love the end result, but I love the process.” This could be the secret to putting out as many records as Krug does: just enjoy making them, don’t give a shit about having made them.

Right now Krug is most proud of his collaborators’ work on Enemy Mine. The album was recorded in Mercer’s basement in Victoria, British Columbia over three weeks last April, with final recording completed at JCDC Studios. John Congleton, who recently produced The Thermals’ Now We Can See, mixed Enemy Mine with the band via email. Even though Swan Lake didn’t get a lot of time together, Krug insists that the record is a full collaboration, and not just a compilation of each member’s songs. “Whoever’s singing wrote the skeleton of the song, the bare-bones structure. But to call the other two the backing band doesn’t give them enough credit, or give me enough credit,” he explains. “There’s a lot of collaborative writing going on and a lot of people coming up with their own ideas and throwing them against the wall.” This time around the band concentrated on recording things live with less textures, instead of building tracks upon tracks. He says he’s “not in love” with his own songs, but really liked Mercer’s contributions. “Carey’s diving into this new world that I haven’t heard him go into before. It really suits his voice and his writing style and it’s apparent on at least two of his songs,” he says. Krug hasn’t heard the finished record yet, but he promises to buy it when it comes out.

That same desire for a “live,” less packed sound also spilled over to the next Sunset Rubdown album. The band completed initial recording in October at Graham Gibson’s studio in Chicago. Krug doesn’t have a title yet (he wants to avoid another Kissing The Beehive / At Mount Zoomer gaffe). Two songs that Krug says are “overdue” for recording, “Idiot Heart” and “Silver Moons,” will both be on the new album, as well as many of the other tracks the band debuted on their last tour. Right now he’s editing songs and doing some re-recording at his home, and says the record will be done by the end of this month (just in time for his vacation in Mexico). Perhaps to avoid the “second guessing” he thinks had a negative effect on Random Spirit Lover, Krug and the rest of Sunset Rubdown recorded all the instruments live “on the floor.” “I like these kinds of recordings because they’re very honest and it’s hard to pretend that you sound any different from whatever it is,” he says. He’s also recorded two songs (“Insane Love Awakening” and “Coming To At Dawn”) for a friend’s 7″ series, to be released whenever his friend wants to. He expects the Sunset Rubdown record out in early summer. After that album, he’s planning another, more idiosyncratic record that he’s been working on for two years: an EP of marimba and drum songs. “[It’s] an instrument that I’ve always liked, but I’ve never had the patience to bring on the road or even try recording,” he says. “I don’t think it’s the coolest move for my ‘street cred,’ but it’s a beautiful sounding instrument, what can I say?”

It’s disappointing but understandable that Wolf Parade won’t be touring in 2009. But they will be hanging out. “We’re going to be writing together and practicing, because we’re friends,” Krug says. “Dan and I have talked about just getting together like we used to when the band started, just me and him just sitting around in one of our houses, sheepishly bouncing ideas off each other.” Sounds fun.

Swan Lake – “All Fires” (MP3)
Sunset Rubdown – “Up On Your Leopard Upon The End Of Your Feral Days” (MP3)
Wolf Parade – “Call It A Ritual” (MP3)


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