Interview

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

By Courtney Sanders

Monday 2nd September, 2013 9:15AM

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros released their latest, self-titled record earlier this year. UnderTheRadar caught up with vocalist and percussionist Christopher "Crash" Richard in the middle of a photo shoot for the cover of his solo album, to discuss the latest album, how Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros operate and the Big Top Music Festival they're hosting later this year.

Hey there Crash how’s it going?

Oh, so good, how are you?

Good thank you. What are you up to at the moment?

Well, I’m actually in the middle of photographing an album cover.

Interesting, how’s it going?

It’s going beautifully. I went to downtown L.A and bought a floral arrangement that spells my name, so it’s like huge letters made out of like red carnations that say Crash. But Edward Sharpe and the New Community is going to release my solo record in the new year so I’m just getting everything prepped for that.

That’s exciting, I didn’t realise you had a solo album in the works.

Yeah this week we’re doing the mastering on that, and that’s why I’m pushing through some of the artwork. I think right behind me is Christian (Letts). Christian is finishing up his solo record and Jade (Castrinos) is right behind him - we’ve just got a lot of material in our laps so we’re trying to use our time wisely to make sure we can keep up with the output. It’s really cool because we all get to perform together on all of these records so it’s really fun. On my record for instance, I wrote it but the Magnetic Zeros play on the record with me. It’s really cool, we get to have all of these projects where we can continue to work together.

So Edward Sharpe is like a melting pot of all of your individual work and influences?

Yeah, sure. As you can imagine with most of us being songwriters there’s always a lot of material coming across the desk. Also, not all of it fits an Edward Sharpe album so by default we end up with extra material. Or maybe we have our mind made up on a specific genre that wouldn’t fit under the Edward Sharpe umbrella and so that’s why Josh (Collazo), for instance, wants to do a jazz record and I don’t think we’d release a jazz record as Edward Sharpe just yet – not yet, maybe later.

So tell me how the songwriting process happens in Edward Sharpe. How do you get together and create something that works as a song, and then an album?

The hardest part about it is exactly what you said – coming together. It happens less like that because sometimes you can’t plan that stuff. If there’s already a song idea or the bones of a song already in place and you just want to build on it, the song will happen like that, but in terms of a song not existing and minutes later there is a song, it’s usually just a moment, and so it’s more about who’s around for that moment. The writing can be a very spur of the moment, spontaneous thing; you just have to be around and catch the wind.

Is that how the songs for this latest, self-titled record formed? Tell me a little about the process for this latest album.

Some of it yes, did go down like that. But a think what most people may not realise is that a lot of these songs are from the last recording sessions. By the time Here was printed there was a lot of material left over that we all knew we wanted to be Edward Sharpe songs, so it was just a matter of touring first and allowing that album to finish its cycle. Then, once we had time to go back into the studio we started to flesh out more of those songs. Other songs on the new record came about because we would get to listening to all these new songs, and we felt we needed a few more that maintained the vibe that we were setting on the record – the tone had to be matched. Otherwise some of the songs would have seemed like a lull on the record and we certainly didn’t want that. So later on in production for the self-titled record it became more about continuing and elongate this tone that would be continuous throughout the entire record. That was more-or-less the process - just really long and drawn out haha.

You’ve spoken a lot about tone and vibe just now. If you had to describe the tone or vibe on the latest album what would you say? Do you go into the writing process with ideas about how you want it to sound?

I think it was pretty organic. We’ve used this word to describe this album because we think it sums up the vibe and that word is ‘rambunctious’. I think there are some moments where things get a little trippy. If you listen to ‘If I Were Free’ there’s this face-melting moment of cranking guitar solos and it gets dreamy and epic and explosive and then it goes back to the light-hearted dream sequence of the rest of the album. I think all together there were just a few more liberties taken – such as that guitar solo – that just add to that rambunctious element. Not in any way did we restrict ourselves to go there for being completely loose and excited and free about the sound.

As a band and as a project you have an interesting and unique philosophy and approach to what the band is and what it means to be in Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes vibe.

It’s interesting because that’s definitely coming up more and more in interviews. One thing I can say to that is that we speak about these things so little and yet the more and more things take shape as time passes. It's been a natural progression and since there has been very little planning it’s just becoming a bit more organic, and we haven’t had to put a lot of effort into those things – the reason for the song or the message or the philosophy. It just keeps happening. I’m sure there’s a much better way to say that. Effortless doesn’t seem like the exact word but it’s close, as far as keeping to this so-called philosophy. Time and the material has allowed that to take shape and not so much our agendas.

I was reading interviews with you online and you mention a pretty crazy festival you’re hosting later this year? Tell me about that.

Yeah we’re really excited about it as you could imagine. The idea behind the Big Top Music Fest is that yes, of course there will be the musical acts but it will also expand into other performances. I’m not sure exactly what we’ve booked yet but if you can imagine certain things like magicians or comedic squarkers, there will be performances all around in this massive Big Top tent. It will make for an immersive experience for the viewer and the attendee. The idea is that you walk onto the festival grounds and even before you enter the tent you feel like you’re in another place; like some amusement parks try to do. I think we’re really going full throttle on this – we really want it to be an exploration of the senses. We’ve got a lot of our friends bands playing and it should be cool.

You've played a bunch of music festivals all over the world: did the idea for the Big Top Music Fest come from seeing what was missing at those festivals?

Well sure, I mean we play so many great festivals throughout the year. For instance, Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennesse, was a really big show for us. Those are opportunities and moments we would never exchange or trade in but I think to be able to do that and also go out and do your own thing much like Mumford and Sons do ‘Gentlemen of the Road. It’s just a really cool situation in which you can set the scene and erect anything you want to build and make out of the environment, and in our case we chose Big Top. It’s just about having more control sometimes so we can do these special things, for folks who want to come out and have fun with us.

 

So you have a solo album coming out, as do a few of the other members of Edward Sharp and the Magnet Zeros. What does the future hold for the actual band?

The focus is definitely the festival right now. I think after the festival we’ll have the end of the year off and then in the new year we’ll be coming to Europe and Australia and in February we’ll pick righ back up where we left off. We have some shows around the States and we’re doing a couple in Canada and over these next couple months we’ll meet up with Mumford and Sons and do that again but Big Top is definitely the focus, so we’ll relax after that until the end of the year and then start back up. With the solo records it’s just going to expand things, I don’t think it’ll necessarily put Edward Sharpe on hold and hopefully we’ll get to a point where we throw all of these songs into the set and do a kind of ‘pass the hat’ type of set list and go from there. Also I think we wanted to record some more Edward Sharpe stuff before the end of the year – there’s always a lot on the stove.




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