Here is part two of my interview with Tim and Stephanie Skipper. As the first part focused on Copperlily, this portion is devoted to House of Heroes. Feel free to read/listen to the interview and then discuss below! The interview was done at Klatch Coffee in Ontario, CA. You may hear some background noises such as espresso machines and music from The Postal Service, The Shins, Vampire Weekend, etc.
IZ: Your new album is going to be concept one, right?
TS: That’s right. Yeah, yeah.
IZ: Alright! Can you share any information about it yet? Have you started recording it?
TS: We haven’t started recording it. I was explaining this to some of the guys last night at the show. It’s been a little frustrating I think going through the process of it. You know, we did the IndieGoGo thing for it. I think we all planned on getting in and recording it quicker than what it’s taking, but I think we all really want to do this one right. You get this sort of pattern as a band where you put out a record, you tour it, and you have not a lot of time to write the next one because you are on tour to keep the thing moving. I feel like since 2007 or ’08 it’s been like that for us. That’s a lot of years for that cycle. Honestly, we could have taken a little bit more time to make some of the other records. There were deadlines and we need to reach them.
This time around we started writing some songs….even the Smoke EP when I listen to it now I go ‘Maaaan, we settled a lot on this’ even though we are really proud of it. Actually, some of my favorite songs we have ever written are on it. There were a lot of things where we relied on ‘Alright, we need a bridge here. What do we do well? Let’s do that.’ I think we wanted to break some of those molds moving forward, you know? We’re working with a producer on this record who has said as much. He said ‘You guys are being way too safe. You’ve been a band so long that you’ve kept the peace with each other by making these patternized compromises basically. I want to challenge you to try something new’, which is what we did on the self-titled record and The End is Not the End. We are really challenging each other to reach a new level of songwriting. That’s what we have been doing with this one. It’s been a pretty big growing pain but it’s been really beautiful as well. I think some of the stuff we are writing is going to be some of our best stuff.
I think we have 11 songs completely written, we’ve got about 25 more ideas in addition to that. What we want to do is write the record, then go back and look at ‘what are the 2 or 3 weakest songs? Let’s re-write those.’ Just to make this thing really strong front-to-back. The story is about….right now it’s only philosophically understood…..
TS: To an extent. The idea is that there is this protagonist character who is a little wishy-washy on how he believes that the world functions. He’s coming of age, sort of post-high school, just after that. He’s got a love interest who’s like ‘Anything is possible!’ That’s the way she views the world. Then he’s got this cousin/best friend who’s like ‘Nothing is possible. Everything is set in stone. You can’t change anything. We were born into this.’ The idea is that they come from this really depressed town. We have Northeast Ohio in mind for that….
TS: Or Detroit or something like that. This guy’s like “This is where you were born, this is where you will die. There is nothing you can do to change that.” The character is caught between these two ideals. “Do I believe my cousin/best friend who’s like ‘Everything is set, you can’t change it. Might as well embrace it”….almost this fatalistic kind of thing. OR is my girl right? She’s like ‘ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE! We can make it out of this.’ We can do anything that we want to in life.” I think that’s the most I feel talking about at this point.
IZ: That’s cool. That’s a lot! (Looks towards Stephanie) Are you going to part of it at all?
SS: I don’t know, I hope so!
IZ: Maybe the girl voice?
TS: Yeah, right? We have a song where the girl sings so….
IZ: So, possible?
SS & TS: Yeah!
TS: Probably, yeah.
SS: I hope so but I never want to overstep my bounds. It’s funny marrying into something where it’s almost as if they were all already married to each other before I came into the picture. They are like highschool sweethearts, you know? They started this band when they were 14 or 15. Started playing together at least. For me to come into the picture, it’s kinda like “Where is my place?” Honestly, we’ve been married for two years and I have finally starting to be like “Okay, I’m your wife. That’s actually more important.” I’m starting to believe that. Those bonds are strong that these guys have. A lot of life has been lived together. I’ll be proud to be part of it however they see fit.
TS: Yeah, right.
IZ: Do you see any release date? Maybe by the end of the year? It is still a work in progress…
TS: Yeah, right. I know for sure we are getting new music out this year at some point. Whether it’s this record or not, we are not really sure. That’s been a really frustrating thing for all the guys. The thing is, we could put it out this year….I think the problem with that would be that we would have limited time to tour around it. We probably wouldn’t be able to put it out until November maybe.
IZ: And then you’ve got Christmas and things like that…
TS: Right, exactly. And it really stinks to tour in January.
TS: We want to make sure we get the vinyl pressed, which is a 12 week turnaround at this point. What I can tell you is that we will have new music out this year for sure. I am not sure about this record.
IZ: You are recording an acoustic EP too, right?
TS: That’s right.
IZ: Are those of the new songs, or are they covers of the old ones?
TS: They ae going to be a mixture of both.
IZ: Ok, very cool. I feel like in general your albums are Summer albums. Like, Suburba is THE 4th of July record.
TS: Yeah totally, thanks man!
IZ: Aaaaaaaaaand……I think that’s about it. Do you have anything else you want to add?
TS: Uhhhhhhhh, March 24th COPPERLILY!
SS: I WAS JUST GOING TO SAY THAT. Yeah!
IZ: That’s right. Little less than a month.
TS: I’m really proud of it. We are going to give you a copy or two of it man.
IZ: Thank you. I really appreciate it man.
Accidentally typed in “House of Herpes” instead of “@houseofheroes“. That “O” on the keyboard is just a little too close to “P”
— Ian Zandi (@IanZandi) March 2, 2015