On its 2009 debut, Try Brother, Capybara crafted a percussive, giddy sound that won the band notice here in its hometown and out across America's digital divide. One of its songs was featured on Spike Jonze's mixtape for Where the Wild Things Are, and Will Wiesenfeld, the arty beat maker behind Baths, sang the band's praises in an interview with Pitchfork. Capybara has kept a relatively low profile for the past 18 months or so but is re-emerging this week with a sophomore album, Dave Drusky. It's more spacey and more subdued, but it also retains some of the indie-rock-via-The Lion King vibes of the debut. The Pitch recently checked in with the band on a corporate-style, five-way conference call.
The Pitch: You moved into a house together to record this? Did you do all the recording at the house?
Jared Horne (guitar): Yeah. I think we like to be around each other in general. We have kind of a special bond together. [Others laugh.] I'm really only half-joking. It works well because we share a similar outlook, a sense of humor. So it was a lot of us goofing around in the house, and the recording kind of went along with that.
Mark Harrison (drums): We recorded for a week at Chris Cosgrove's studio. But that was mostly taking advantage of tracking and final touches and some special guitars and amps over there. Pretty much everything had been written and demoed at the house before we went into Cosgrove.
Was there a specific sense from the beginning of how you wanted this record to sound?
Darin Seal (synths): We probably spent as much time talking about what we wanted it to sound like as we did recording it. Which I'm not sure is a good thing. But I don't think at any point did we say, This is what we want it to sound like.
What kinds of things were you talking about, when you talked about how you wanted it to sound?
Horne: I think one of the biggest things was the production value. I think we specifically tried to spend more time in general thinking about reverb and particular sounds, to make it more cohesive.
Harrison: There were two main things that I think we wanted to change. One was reverb. We didn't use reverb on the first one, and we wanted to use it to create a little more space in the songs on this one. The other thing was stressing the vocals a little more. I think we imagined the vocals more upfront on this one.
Horne: With the guitars — and the guitar production came from everyone; Darin played a huge role in the guitar parts — I think my particular style with writing and recording them is to layer them. Which I think comes through in a song like "Late Night Bikes," where there's lots of tracks on top of one another. I like a really treble-y guitar sound that's kind of thin, almost.
Harrison: Another thing is that we used to switch instruments a lot before, and we don't anymore, so there's a natural consistency between the songs that comes from everyone concentrating more on their own instruments.
Is there one of you who typically comes in with an idea for a song? How are the songs shaped?
Joel Wrolstad (vocals, sampler): There's truly not one way. Sometimes Darin would have an idea, a bass line with a synth line or something, and I'd add some stuff to it. Then somebody else adds an idea.
Harrison: With Try Brother, we were in different rooms, working apart, layering, and we built the album that way. With this one, there were more concrete ideas that we all added to in more of a group setting. We just sort of assume roles. There's no technique or formula. There's constantly a ton of ideas floating around, and over time they get combined with other ideas.
Seal: We all have varying levels of influence on different songs. I would try to push a Juggalo influence. Sometimes you get voted down.
People use words like "tribal" or "jungle" to describe your sound. How do you feel about that perception?
Harrison: I don't know. I find that to be surprising. I think there are a lot of different moments. There's that weird Jumanji type of sound at the end of "Late Night Bikes," I guess. But I think 75 percent of it is not jungle-sounding, or whatever, at all.
Horne: I think some of the ways we use rhythm in our music are a little bit quirky, so they can be recognizable in that way.
Are you planning on touring for this record?
Harrison: Well, we all have full-time jobs. A tour means a lot of different things. It means we have to change the ways we're living our current lives. I'm in Austin right now. We kind of need to take it one step at a time. And we have a lot of music we want to record, and we don't want there to be as long of a gap between this and whatever comes out next, as there was between Try Brother and this new one.
Who's Dave Drusky?
Seal: Dave is a friend of ours who was with us when we went on this long tour out west of here. He was basically just living with us in the van, hanging out the whole time. At the house, we have this dry erase board with a to-do list on it. And when we were making this record, I walked in one day, and Mark and Joel had written a list of 15 ideas for naming the album. And I saw "Dave Drusky" on there, and it was just, like, no hesitation: That's the name of the album. If there's something the four of us can agree about, it's that Dave Drusky is an amazing dude.