Perpetual Groove have been a staple of the live music scene for well over a decade. Hailing from Athens GA, the band has toured all over the country and has released multiple albums. They are set to release their new album, out today May 17th, called Perpetual Groove.
We were lucky enough to catch up with the band for an exclusive interview.
With a new album and new tour dates, the immediate future is looking bright for Perpetual Groove. Tell us a little bit about the making of this album and the inspiration behind the writing.
We wanted to make our best album yet. That meant bringing together our collective vision to craft songs that reflected where we are now musically as a band. 10 years is longer than some bands even last much less time between albums. We are a very different band than we were 10 years ago because we are very different people than we were 10 years ago, and the album reflects this. We’ve matured, as has our sound, ability, and approach as songwriters.
We essentially made the album in three different phases. Early in 2018, we did a couple months of pre-production going through everyone’s material and picking the songs that we thought were best to put our focus on for the album. Then in July 2018, we spent 10 days at the Fidelitorium Kernersville, NC making the bones of the album. This is where we began our work with producers Jason Kingsland and Tim Friesen. The studio was filled with all sorts of unique instruments that inspired new timbres, techniques, and arrangements to the songs. Then, in late 2018 we finished the album at Studio MG in Roswell, Georgia- another incredible studio space that allowed us to dive deep from the first session in July and bring the album into focus.
Brock and Adam share the credit for lyrics on the album. Brock lost his sister unexpectedly last year, and I know that many of the lyrics on the album speak directly to that loss. Adam composed and wrote the lyrics to Down In that was directly inspired by our friend Chris who passed away in late 2017. Jason Huffer, who created the artwork for the album, had both Brock and Adam hand write their lyrics, then he creatively stitched them all together for the vinyl sleeves and the back face of the CD. It’s one of the things I love most about the artwork.
LISTEN TO THE ALBUM!!
Athens, GA is well known for its out sized music reputation. Is there something about Athens in the writing for this album? How has the band’s writing matured over the years to get you to this point, this music you are currently writing?
Athens is a great town for musicians to live in. However, I can’t speak to Athens directly influencing the writing of this particular album. I’m actually the only one who still lives in Athens as we are now spread out across the country. Adam is in Atlanta, Albert is in Oklahoma, and Brock calls Los Angeles home for the last couple years. We’ve really focused on the songs themselves guiding the way for this album. It’s quite a departure sonically from albums that we made a decade ago. None of this material was road tested, so everything was written in the studio with the intent of the song guiding the way and listening to what’s best for each song and how that song fits in the album as an overall experience. Plus, we wanted all new songs and a fresh sound to introduce the new material with.
What changes and surprises will long time fans of the band find in this recording?
I think they’ll find that sonically it’s definitely our most mature and developed album to date. I believe the songs are the strongest that we’ve written as they are just that, songs.
You are a part of a cadre of bands that is known more for live performance than for recorded material. Is that daunting so far as preparing you to write and record an album? Is there a special chip you have on your should that says “I’ll Show You!!” when you are preparing for an album like this?
I don’t think we really view it as a chip on our shoulder. If anything, it’s incredibly liberating to have a decade since our last album as we don’t really have a mold or formula that we need to follow that’s expected of us. Fortunately, we’ve gotten the best of both worlds. We’re associated with a great scene of other bands and musicians and inside of that group, we may be best known for writing some sing-along inducing melodies that tend to stick in peoples heads.
What efforts does this album make, or perhaps your live performances, to reach out to new fans and perhaps bring the band to a place that you haven’t been before so far as accessibility to newbies or a casual fan? Spirit Bear seems a departure from what I had in my mind as the sound of Perpetual Groove.
I think this goes back to what I was saying about so much time passing since our last album. It does not sound like albums we made 10 years ago and from our view, that’s a good thing. It is a new fresh sound, but we wanted to make something that was exactly that, fresh. Unexpected perhaps, yet inspired. The songs themselves are shorter and intentional, and I think that can appeal to a wider audience.
You had a well known hiatus- what is the impetus of the return? What did you miss about being together that could not be replicated any other way?
Every band, if they’re lucky, has a thing that is theirs alone that happens when they play together. We’re lucky to have that, and after some much needed time off, we were all ready to get back together to appreciate and respect that thing for what it is.
What innovations in technology, whether for your personal instruments or in the studio, have changed the way you sound? Are there new processes or toys that are opening your mind to new musical directions?
For several years now, I’ve utilized software like ableton on stage. For me personally, most of my rig comes through my computer. This includes organic sounds like piano, organ, and Rhodes, not just the synth stuff. I know the rest of the fellas in their home studios and somewhat on the road do the same thing with new gear all the time. Musicians never get tired of new toys and ways to create.
You are well known to have a really strong relationship with your fanbase. In what way has that infused in you a responsibility that is different from a pop band or a band whose relationship is not as intimate with their fanbase?
Truly, our Fanbase has been the only reason we’ve been able to last this long. They’ve stuck by us through thick and thin and have created a community around the band that is much bigger than the band itself. Without them, there is no Perpetual Groove. We turned to the fan base at the very beginning of recording the album via kickstarter. They got us across the finish line, and it’s a direct example of their enthusiasm for us to make new music. As long as we have their support, we’re going to keep on doing it.
Here ya go.
7.12 – WILMINGTON, NC – GREENFIELD LAKE AMPITHEATRE
8.24 – RICHMOND, VA – THE NATIONAL
9.20 & 21 – SAVANNAH, GA – VICTORY NORTH
9.26 – CHARLOTTESVILE, VA – THE SOUTHERN
9.27 – VA. BEACH, VA – THE NORVA
9.28 – SALEM FARMER’S MARKET – SALEM, VA
10.3 – COLUMBIA, SC – THE SENATE
10.4 – CHARLOTTE, NC – NEIGHBORHOOD THEATRE
10.5 – RALEIGH, NC – LINCOLN THEATRE
10.6 – BLACK MOUNTAIN, NC – PISGAH BREWING
10.9 – PHILADELPHIA, PA – THE FOUNDRY
10.10 – HARRISBURG, PA – HARRISBURG MIDTOWN ARTS CENTER
10.11 – WASHINGTON D.C. – 9:30 CLUB
10.12 – NEW YORK CITY – GRAMERCY THEATRE
10.13 – SCRANTON, PA – STAGE WEST
10.16 – SYRACUSE, NY – THE WESCOTT THEATRE
10.17 – SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – PUTNAM PLACE
10.18 – BOSTON, MA – BRIGHTON MUSIC HALL
10.19 – BURLINGTON, VT – HIGHER GROUND
10.25 – NASHVILLE, TN – THE BASEMENT EAST
10.26 – HUNTSVILLE, AL – THE MERCANTILE
10.31 – ATHENS, GA – THE GEORGIA THEATRE
11.1 & 2 – CHARLESTON, SC – THE CHARLESTON POUR HOUSE
11.7 – FRISCO, CO – 10 MILE MUSIC HALL
11.8 & 9 – DENVER, CO – ECHOES FROM THE MOUNTAIN @ SUMMIT
11.22 – BIRMINGHAM, AL – SATURN
11.23 – ATLANTA, GA – VARIETY PLAYHOUSE