The Post-Punk Duo On Creation With Constraints

Yet there were natural limits to the early days of Sweeping Promises: Schnug and Mondal recorded the record in a converted lab at Harvard, where Schnug is an “late stage” doctoral student. (“The university feeds the beast of the Virgin,” he added as an explanation.) The 40-foot ceilings meant their songs had to be intentional: “The spacious architecture and reverberation that results from [that space] forces you to play sparingly because everything you play resonates in a monumental way, ”Schnug explained. “I think a lot of the minimalism in songwriting is largely down to not wanting to oversaturate,” Mondal added. “Or having too many ideas that vibrate cancel each other out.”

Recorded with a single mic technique, their songs feel perfectly alive: the floating bass on “Safer Now” and “Blue” buzzes with palpable liveliness while resonating with crisp pullback. And then there’s Mondal’s voice, halfway between the disillusioned bark of Cindy Wilson and the lush harmonies of the “wall of sound” girl groups. Her louder, bolder voice came from realizing that she could just write “the parts of songs I’ve always loved to sing very loudly at the top of my lungs in cars” for herself. But it’s a grueling performance: “The first thing I thought of when we were in Chicago is, ‘Boy, I hope my singing teacher doesn’t show up because she would hate what I’m doing. with my voice, ”Mondal added. . Still, she relies on vocal warm-ups and breathing techniques before performances to help with vocal endurance.

During the pandemic, they temporarily moved in with Schnug’s parents in Austin, where they recorded their new single “Pain Without A Touch,” released nationally on Feel It Records and on Sub Pop internationally. In a rare exception to their 20-minute rule, the song’s combination of choppy lyrics and playful guitar melodies came from the revisit of an abandoned songwriting effort. It was one of the “30 or 40” songs they had written last year; Coming back to it months later, the band realized they could work with new lyrics. They sat down and consciously recorded it in Schnug’s bathroom, isolated from the rest of the sounds in the family home. There are nine more songs to be released from what they’ve dubbed the “Bathroom Sessions”, but Schnug insists “it won’t be the [second] album.”

The songs that make up the next LP, they say, will be recordings of “rooms not including the toilet.” Schnug and Mondal recently moved to Lawrence, Kansas, after nearly buying a church in Ohio. Their new home is almost tailor-made for a band that thrives on self-recording: a home with an adjoining studio. “It’s all wood floors, high ceilings, tons of reverberation,” Mondal said. “It looks a bit like the space we had in Cambridge.” But even now, with proper recording space, it seems unlikely that they will give up on their simple audio preferences. “There’s a frankness in our ability to write with each other that we really can’t afford to capture less spontaneously,” Mondal explained. For them, recording in mono and capturing sound with minimal equipment is a conscious effort to make an active choice based on the material realities of independent musicians – to “try to regain some sort of control in the face of a truly out of control life situation to everyone who is not part of the 1%, “Mondal said.” There is that kind of central idea of ​​unity, “she added.” We are just standing in the face of noise or noise. reverberation. “

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