Sarah Coolidge – Call Me When You Get There (Digital, 2023)

Interview by Briyan Frederick

I love your new song, Greasers. It’s loaded with dichotomy and I’m not sure who this person is, which I like. Probably they are unsure as well. It contains vivid portraits. The one where two friends are smoking fake cigarettes and being too cool for school is one I’ve been in.

Thank you!

What was your writing process for Greasers?

It’s one of the older songs from the album. The first version I have of it on my voice memo app is from February 2019 and there’s no chorus yet but the verse is there being worked out. I wanted to write a song about the ambiguity of that movie and the ambiguity of everything when we’re young, how we playact good and bad behavior in order to figure out who we are.

When I got to writing the chorus i wanted it to be a little rockabilly or something you could dance to, almost as if it were a song playing at the dance in Grease. And when I played it with my band for the first time we just all sped up naturally for the chorus, even though I hadn’t originally written it that way. The chorus just had this energy whereas the verse was laid back—and we decided to lean into that in the song, to let the song feel like two distinct vibes.

Did you/do you go to drive-ins or are you placing yourself back in that time?

Well a bit of both. I was definitely mainly referring to the drive in scene of Grease (upon rewatching, a very fucked up scene) and that era but I also love drive-ins and used to go all the time on weekends in college to the one up in, I believe, Hyde Park, NY, with my girlfriend at the time, who had a car. They actually had double features and everything and played contemporary movies. I remember seeing some Steve Carrell movie and, I think, Contagion? So it’s a bit of a real memory for me but also playing very much into old timey cliches from that era.

Tiny Telephone sounds like an awesome place to record an album. What’s that like?

It is! Especially with engineers that know it so well. Meric Long (The Dodos) and Maryam Qudus (SPACEMOTH) both work out of there a ton and know the equipment so well.

I got to describe the sound I wanted for guitar and they’d have amps lined up for me to try when I got there in the morning. They have incredible, one of a kind gear, plus all the tea I could ever want.

Unfortunately the studio was broken into earlier this year and a bunch of stuff was stolen, but they did a kickstarter and the support really came in. John Vanderslice has created such a great community and I’ve learned about such great musicians through that network of Tiny musicians and engineers.

My hope is once we’ve earned more from shows and record sales we can go back and make another record there.

“asunder” is a word that should be used more often. For the song Call Me When You Get There, I wonder if you spent a lot of time structuring the two verses, the repeated lines in each; or if you wrote one and then wrote the other using the first as a template? The more layers I peeled back the more I found. Also, what does it mean to run away, hands on my shoulders?

I wrote the first verse first in one go, just kind of improvising, at this moment when my partner and i were beginning to leave the house separately more often, maybe a year into the pandemic. For that first year we’d really done so much together and i noticed I had all this anxiety pent up about losing them. So it just came out naturally.

Then the second verse I wrote using the first but taking it in a slightly different direction. I like to use repetition but shift the meaning to progress the song, the way our brains work as we spin out from one thought to another.

The “hands on my shoulders running away” bit evokes a couple possible images. It can mean the hands that were once on your shoulders are running away as in retreating or that hands on your shoulders make you run away. Either situation would be due to a lack of faith from one party or the other but I like leaving it open to the listener’s interpretation.

Tell us about your band and how you approach recording an album together (this album).

For all our recordings the goal has been to come in really well rehearsed, really familiar with the songs. We’re a trio though and obviously there’s so much more we can do in the studio with overdubs.

We broke up the recording so that we could live track drums bass and scratch vocals and guitar for all the songs. Then there was time for us to play around writing more guitar and synth parts to record in the second section.

By the time we recorded this album, all the songs we’d been playing live for a while, except Ice Pack, which was still in the works and we finished writing in the studio. I think we work really well together as a team and are friends as well as a band.

I do get a sense that you like playing together. It comes across in your videos, photos and music.

Your guitar reveals more character with every new song I hear. Describe your guitar and the sounds you like making with it.

I play a fender strat I’ve had for ages. Live I play through this neat egnator amp I got at a local store. But for the album I got to play through Maryam Qudus’s Magnatone which is a dream amp, so much natural crunch and character. When we play live I’m playing all the guitar parts so it has to really fill out the space. I love my ocd pedal for that which is definitely on the album. But we also got to play with layering the guitars and there’s an earthquaker aqueduct tremolo pedal that Maryam had me use that I had to get to add to my pedalboard after. I keep it on a low setting for most of my songs and it just adds such a nice depth.

I’m honestly not a huge gearhead. I’m first and foremost someone who writes songs on an acoustic nylon string and then fills them out with the band. But I’ve spent time trying to really home in on tones that work and don’t work for me and I feel like I get to add something new to my repertoire with each album we record.

I’m not much of a gearhead either. My brother is, so for a long time I just borrowed one of his guitars, but I got a Burns Steer guitar years ago and that’s the one I’ve mostly stuck with.

Call Me When You Get There is officially released August 11, 2023. What’s next?

We will be playing a house show for the release. On August 10 in San Francisco, just before Outside Lands begins. I should have more details later today. But our next big show is Oct 26 at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Our plan will be to keep playing shows, try to make some money back so we can record more. I already have 4-5 new songs I’m working on with the band, so I’m always looking ahead to how we’re gonna record the next thing. It’s just about getting the songs tight with the band and then saving up enough money for recording.

Media: Digital.

PRICE: 10.00

Bandcamp URL: https://sarahcoolidge.bandcamp.com/album/call-me-when-you-get-there


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dabodab is published by Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker) of GAJOOB, Tapegerm Collective, Discover Zines and other sites which now have a home here on dabodab. read more.

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