Basement Tapes: Local indie band Pompeii talks new album, recording process

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Pompeii is an Austin-based band, best known for their detailed ambient rock sound. The band started in 2004 and has been touring for the past five years.
Pompeii is an Austin-based band, best known for their detailed ambient rock sound. The band started in 2004 and has been touring for the past five years.

Editor’s note: Basement Tapes is a multimedia music blog series in which each week the Texan brings in independent artists to perform and interview. Check out Culture Spotlight every Friday for new content.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the atmospheric melodies of local indie band Pompeii and the gentle tenor of its lead singer Dean Stafford played as the soundtrack to an indie romcom. The fusion of the band’s heartfelt, pensive lyrics and soft-rock sound is made for love-confessing kissing scenes. However, this is not to say it is a sentimental band.

Soon after its debut in 2004, Pompeii gained international attention for its detailed compositions. From every song’s title to each guitar peak, Pompeii humbly prides itself on its meticulousness. And since the European tour of its sophomore album, Nothing Happens For A Reason, released in 2008, the band has started the recording process of its next album, not hurrying to precisely lay out each beat.

The band will perform on the outside stage of Emo’s for Wild Frontier Fest on Saturday, and fans have an opportunity to win a spot on the band’s guest list by following its Twitter account and answering a trivia question on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The Daily Texan interviewed singer-guitarist Stafford, guitarist Erik Johnson, bassist Colin Butler and drummer Rob Davidson during Basement Tapes about taking it slow in recording their third album, their recording process and breaking out of their comfort zone.

The Daily Texan: It’s been about two years since your last album, and that was supposed to come out this spring, correct?
Dean Stafford: No, we thought maybe it would be done by then, but everything has to happen organically ... since our last record, we’ve had 30-plus ideas that we’ve just been jamming over the course. Now we have the gist of most of those ideas that we like, and we’re going to keep continuing to shape those, so we’re still a ways away.

DT: What are some of those ideas?
Erik Johnson: Like Dean said, we just notice that [the songs] weren’t turning out the way that we wanted them to so we keep reinventing them over and over. I guess the idea is trying to get away from what we’ve done before on the previous albums.
Stafford: We’re trying to be less mature on this album. [laughs]
Rob Davidson: It’s also an issue of sinking into a comfort zone of a formula for songwriting, and we’re trying to flip that.
Colin Butler: We’ve all played together for so long that we have a comfort zone established, so we are trying to break out of that. Also, in the past, we had deadlines that we had to meet and this time around, we don’t have that, so we’re kind of free to take our time and to make things exactly how we want it.

DT: I noticed that you guys are very meticulous and detail-oriented, so do you have any set expectations for this next album?
Stafford: My expectations, I think all of our expectations are ... we really want to make songs that aren’t just good but that surprise ourselves and push ourselves further to make really great songs. In terms of making the songs big, all that kind of stuff, I think it is less like that for me personally now. We’ve been a band since like 2004. It had just come to a full circle for me where I don’t really care about the periphery or the expectations in terms of making ourselves looking like badasses. It’s more about us wanting to make great songs, and that can be really frustrating for us because we can be really meticulous at times, and it can get really annoying sometimes. [laughs] But we want this to be the greatest thing we’ve ever done.
Johnson: A lot of times, we just get together and start jamming. We each come up with our own ideas for the songs, and then, after Dead throws in the lyrics, we get a feel to the song and mood to the album. When we first started, I don’t think we had anything in mind. It just came together.

Printed on Friday, September 2, 2011 as: Local indie band to perform at Emo's.