Sanae Yamada: It was reasonably early on when…it just sort of became clear that we had a bunch of songs that kind of hung together in a heavier way. Then there were other songs that definitely felt like outliers to that. They had a different energy to them.
Ripley Johnson: The dark/light thing became apparent right away. That was conscious, and we wanted to do a darker record. When you do that, and you go through that process, it feels unbalanced in some way. Maybe if you’re a goth band or something that’s just your natural sort of mode, but we wanted to do something to balance it out. Almost to relieve ourselves in some way.
AD: There’s a conscious darkness to it to Volume 1, but it’s also super fun. “Creepin’” is a really a blast of a song. Do you guys sort of find that that’s a part of the appeal of darker aesthetics as well, that there’s sort of a thrilling, irreverent element to them?
Sanae Yamada: Sure. I don’t think we’re talking about darkness necessarily in terms of morbidity. We’re evoking subterranean atmospheres –- enclosed spaces and cave-like environments.
Ripley Johnson: We’ve been in Portland for about four years now but we lived in San Francisco for a long time before that. There’s no seasons there. There’s August, which is winter, and the rest is the same. So we really liked the seasons up here. We liked the winter — it’s dark, but it’s nice. We enjoy it. So there is a pleasure in the darkness. It’s not like, like Sanae said, a morbid thing. It’s another experience to explore. We’re not trying to sound “grim.”
AD: How does the occult play into these songs? There are references throughout — “Cult of Moloch,” “Will of the Devil” — but I get the sense the attraction is deeper than that.
Ripley Johnson: Yeah, it’s not like Satanism or anything like that. [That element] came about from just reading about different occult things, and just being sort of in that zone while we were working on the record. But yeah it’s more like a Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown vibe. The old religions, the idea of things that you can’t explain. It came from reading about that kind of stuff and being interested in that aspect of the time where people were trying to understand nature and they couldn’t, so they would just sort of make up things to sort of try to clarify what was going on in the world.
Sanae Yamada: I think a lot of the occult philosophy and hermetic philosophy and science [is driven by] trying to understand to reality from a very holistic point of view. Examining things in nature, examining patterns. In hermetic medicine…there was this whole idea of the unseen body that surrounds the physical body. In all of this are these central contrasts, opposites needing each other in order to exist. That kind of played into our playing with the idea of the dark album and the light album. These two entities balance each other, but that are also different from each other and they have a connection to natural cycles.
02 – Cold Fear
03 – Creepin’
04 – Cross-Town Fade
05 – Cult of Moloch
06 – Will of the Devil
07 – White Rose