Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two and a Half Questions with David Skogen of Cougar

I love the experimental tracks. Who are your influences for those?
Hmm. Honestly, I try not to think about any sounds I've heard before, when listening to a new song, be it full-out or more interlude-ish. I just listen and wait for funny things to pop out, or into my head. Then I start trying them, banging around the studio, and attempt to be aware of when something interesting starts making noise. If I think about the interludes on 'Law' specifically, most of them came out of found sounds in the studio or with different percussion instruments that we thought were unique enough to warrant their own space, as opposed to being buried within a proper song. I'm a sucker for metal sounds. Cymbals are like the most strange, beautiful idea to me. Putting my ear to the edge of a cymbal and just listening to the overtone cycle, especially the really low information, is one of my secret pleasures. I like recording the actual shells of the drums, the large chunks of material that resonate on their own, whether wood or metal. But anyway, back to the question... I have no idea.

Ever think of making an electronic album?
Sure. Although MY electronic album would still be all organic sounds. That's kind of one of the things that gives Cougar its sound... almost all sounds on the record are actually REAL sounds, organic, acoustic sounds, that we apply with a kind of electronic mindset. I think it makes it a much more warm album, and it gives me a little happiness. Our laptop guy, Aaron Sleator, is probably the only one who could make an actual electronic album. One of our guitar players, Dan Venne, does extensive work with Ableton Live, but not so much in Cougar.

What are some of your side projects?
I tour a good chunk of the year with YoungBlood Brass Band, which is what we call riot jazz. It's basically a really aggressive hiphop brass band with 3 drummers and all horns. I've been doing that for almost 10 years now. Dan Venne (guitars) has an improv trio called Hans Blix, and he plays around New York quite a bit doing improv, experimental and compositional work. Todd Hill (basses) lives in Chicago and freelances all over down there. Aaron Sleator (guitar/electronics/keys) has his own solo acoustic stuff as well as solo electronic stuff. We all met in Madison, playing in Richard Davis' Black Music Ensemble at the University of Wisconsin, so we were all entrenched in the world of jazz/improv for a long time. Funny that we settled on a band that's almost entirely compositionally based, and not improvised.

Tell us about your upcoming new record.
From what my friends that have heard it are telling me, it's more aggressive, more electronic, and more concise. There's less overarching emotional moments, and more complex narratives. Things don't take as long, and more happens in less space. Man, talking about your own music sounds pretentious no matter what, huh. We're excited about it, it's a blast to play, and at the root of the band, we're all players, so hitting the stuff live is really what makes it worth it.Thanks for listening. We're looking at maybe a winter 08 or spring 09 release, depending on who's actually releasing. It's all up in the air right now. |

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