The radio propulsion of “Satan Said Dance” from CYHSY's new album, Some Loud Thunder, is a fresh sound for the band best known for its stripped-down, muted guitars. Anchored by its drumbeat, tints of disco might lead one to pigeonhole the group with a lot of today's indie rock bands – something Ounsworth would disagree with.
“There's more detail to it [ Some Loud Thunder ] that prevents it from being classified into certain territories which would cause some sort of affiliation. I'm sure it's the same for them [other bands]. I don't know them, but it's the same for them towards us,” he says.
If ignorance is bliss, Ounsworth has succeeded without having to know any of the hot new acts being touted on the Internet. Two years ago, these same MP3 blogs brought Ounsworth and the rest of the band – Robbie Guertin, Lee Sargent, Tyler Sargent and Sean Greenhalgh – into prominence.
To this day, the group releases its own albums, even with a plethora of offers from major labels. Such activity creates attention, but if the music is as good or even overshadows it, then it's a whole other story. Amongst stellar album reviews, interest within the media grew, as did the number of new fans, and the spotlight only intensified as new songs were primed for a sophomore effort.
Message boards indicate displeasure at some songs not sounding like their live recordings, but at the end of each recording session, it's Ounsworth's opinion that matters.
“The only person that I have to make sure is pleased with the material when it finishes is myself. It was a surprise that people were in fact interested in the first album, and you know you just have to go with that. You just have to be surprised again if people are going to be interested in the second.”
Startling is the addition of producer Dave Fridmann on the record. Having produced the last Flaming Lips record ( At War with the Mystics ), it seemed to be an unlikely pairing.
Prog rock colliding with arena spectacle is not a CYHSY signature. “Satan Said Dance,” withstanding, Fridmann's sprawling layers and textures are heightened, but maximized for sheer intimacy.
Ounsworth liked Fridmann's methods and appreciated the producer's fast approach to songs and immediate instinct (akin to Ounsworth's own process of early song demos). The efforts paid off.
“Underwater (You and Me)” and its wave of chiming bells and crashing drums is a perfect complement to the instrument that is Ounsworth's voice. While an added orchestra might intensify songs like “Underwater,” it's not necessary Ounsworth says, considering their self-titled debut release was made between $5,000-$10,000.
“I don't think you need much,” he remarks. “I even think $5,000-10,000 was a lot at that time. I was ready to knock it out in three to four days. You adjust to your limitations.”
Being artistically restricted by a record executive is one thing Ounsworth isn't fond of.
He says, “Nobody can give me a real legitimate reason as to why we would in fact sign to be on a label or to join some sort of relationship in which it was a chore. I don't ever endeavor into anything that takes any sort of commitment.”
The DIY approach allows that lack of obligation, but can prove tiresome. Never-ending runs to the post office to ship CDs had gone on for too long, almost to the point, Ounsworth says, that the band could've been swept away by it and not focused on making records.
Success allows for a few perks notably a CD distributor, a publicist and a booking agent. And while he knows who David Bowie is, it doesn't faze him one bit to know that Bowie is a fan and has been spotted at their shows.
“Success has always been putting out a good album and doing a good show – that's it. It's nothing more than that. It's not how many albums you sell or who comes to your show or anything like that. Success is your work. It's finishing it and making sure that it's complete.”
That's some loud statement.
Some Loud Thunder is currently available. For more information, visit www.clapyourhandssayyeah.com .