“This sounds really young, it sounds like early Helio Sequence,” says Brandon Summers, the band’s singer and guitarist, of the new record. “To me, it feels like a 90-degree sunny day in Portland.”
The Portland-based alt-rock duo is back on stage for a West Coast summer tour, during which the band is unveiling tracks from the new album, due out in early 2015. EW caught up with Helio Sequence two days after they finished recording.
Two years after the release of Negotiations, Summers and Benjamin Weikel (drums, keyboard) decided to change their creative process and leave space for pure spontaneity. “Negotiations was a very labored record. For this album we wanted something different, with no pre-meditation,” Summers says.
Instead of planning the new album, they spent five weeks “jamming,” recording 10-plus-minute keyboard and guitar loops and lyrics fragments. “Stop it. Save it. Leave it,” is how Summers describes the band’s creative philosophy. “Then we listened to it, looking for that initial spark.”
That spark may be a single word or a bassline; from this, the duo put together about 26 demo songs without mixing, burned a CD and asked their closest circle of friends to vote for their “Top 10.”
“These five weeks were the most intense of my creative process,” Summers says. The result is a somewhat younger, more upbeat record, which mirrors, in a lot of ways, the band’s roots. From the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper to My Bloody Valentine, Summers recognizes the footprint of music he and Weikel listened to as teens.
The new record, Summers says, will feature introspective, diary-like lyrics, more backbeat and even some unexpected funky basslines like in the song “Battle Lines.”
“Words that meant nothing together suddenly do. It’s really a bleeding of the subconscious,” Summers says. “Inevitably, you listen to it and then your realize ‘Oh my god, that’s what that song is about.’”
The Helio Sequence joins New Zealand singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Liam Finn 8 pm Wednesday, Aug. 20, at WOW Hall; $15.