Other Lives finds inspiration in the prairie of its native Oklahoma and in the pursuit of the clarity and peace one can find there. At last month's headlining show at the Gramophone, the five-piece filled the room with its powerful swells and patient arrangements. Before the show, we brought the band to the future home of Work/Play a block away on Manchester to perform the title track from last year's excellent Tamer Animals. Jacob Berkowitz and Benjamin Koenig shot the video, Liz Deichmann acted as producer, Carroll Keane directed and Native Sound Studios recorded and edited sound. Berkowitz edited the video. View some behind-the-scenes photos here.
Tomorrow night, the band will have a much, much larger room to capture when it opens for Radiohead at the sold-out Scottrade Center. Below, read an excerpt of our conversation with Other Lives.
Kiernan Maletsky: What do you role do you think art plays in achieving some sort of collective consciousness, in commenting on what happens in society?
Jesse Tabish: It's kind of a great remembrance of the times. You can look back throughout history and it's captured through its wars and its kings and its music and its art. [Art] reflects that. It reflects all the good and bad.
It transcends that, too, and is able to live throughout time. I do think it's an important way to document what's going on but also hopefully to take people out of the physical a little bit, to inspire them.
Do you think that certain works of art take on more salient meanings depending on their current context? Do you find yourself going to different art now than you did ten years ago?
Jonathan Mooney: Absolutely. It's a complete reflection of the time. Art can definitely have an effect on humanity. I think art is an acknowledgement of what's happening.
Tabish: The beauty of it is you listen to a piece of music by Beethoven or something, and you don't even think about the eighteenth century, and you don't think about what it was written for. You go someplace in your mind..it's the best we are as humans. That place, that clarity and that peace. Not all pieces of music are like that but there are some that, it doesn't matter about history or any of those things, it touches something far deeper. I know being from Oklahoma has influenced your music, and I would love it if you could talk a little bit about that and also how you feel place affects art in general.
Tabish: We've been living there for ten years. We went to high school there...I think in high school we couldn't wait to get out and move anywhere. But as we continue to work and live...it's something that's hard to explain because it was lived. There's a patience about Oklahoma. And I'm sure other places; it's not just unique to Oklahoma. But especially working on music and being a band in that kind of world, it's so fast-pace, get a record done, go out and play a show, try and get signed, all that kind of rush rush rush. We found ourselves for about five or six years not doing any of that and still being allowed to live there cheaply, doing what we wanted to do. And that was writing music. Without really any ambition other than to improve our writing about music.
That's one side. And the other side I don't think really hit us until the last couple years, of really being surrounded by this untouched land everywhere. It's something that I felt seeped in subconsciously and hit me, that this is the kind of music we've been making. It's this vast, desolate prairie music.
Mooney: It's just void of those distractions of city life. Only after visiting a lot of cities do you come back and say, "There is something to this place. I wanted to get out of here before but now I realize we couldn't have done what we did musically. I can't imagine making the last few records anywhere else."
Tabish: I think whatever artist, wherever they are, their environment affects them greatly. Whether it's a reaction against it, or trying to capture it or even if it's subconscious, it definitely seeps in. Your parents and your surroundings and your friends and where you live seeps in.