Rutili, who recently moved to Los Angeles from his native Chicago to pursue more film-scoring opportunities, filled us in on both, shedding light on his band's balance between haphazard and deliberate in the process and, of course, comparing present-day Califone with its former incarnation as Red Red Meat.
Califone alternates between live instrumentation and electronic processing. How much does film afford that same spontaneity?
It's the same as Califone, though film work feels a lot more experimental sometimes. A few years ago, I did the music for a History Channel documentary about a UFO, and most of the music is an old delay machine feeding back against itself and slightly changing over time. We ended up building on top of that sound, bringing it in and out for the entire 45-minute show. We recorded it on the fly, and it fell into place perfectly. It was nothing that we planned. It started out as a joke, but it really worked well with the picture. I can sit and listen to a sound like that for hours on end. With Califone, we would have maybe used 20 seconds of that as a slight color within a song.
Why do you say that the new album is a "conscious and resolved thing" and more "fully realized" than past work?
All the sounds and noises are there to serve the melodies. [Previous album] Heron King was more about texture, exploration, and groove. This one is all about the songs and refining some ideas that we touched in our past work and allowing the music to propel itself wherever it wants to go. We've always mutated and evolved. If we stop doing that, we're dead. Roots & Crowns still sounds like us, but it doesn't sound anything like Heron King or Quicksand/Cradlesnakes. And it is certainly much better than anything we ever did with Red Red Meat.
How is it that losing all of your gear inspired the album to come out with a more positive tone?
Making lemonade from lemons, I guess. Losing our shit forced us to find some new sounds and made it so we couldn't rely on some of our old default tricks. It's bad and good. It sucked losing the stuff, but it really did force some good growth and change.