Northern Transmissions interviews the affable JB Townsend from Crystal Stilts
Charles Brownstein: Do you feel compelled to be recording all the time?
JB Towsend: I don’t really feel pressure, no, cause we don’t have any contracts with labels so there’s no one telling us when to record, we usually do it at our own pace. Like when we have enough songs we just record or when we feel like we have some songs that we want to record or it’s a good time, we just record them. None of the records are more than one record at time with any of our releases, it’s all just been one record. Um so we kinda just, you know record and do it like that. I think that we’re, we kind of like to play it by ear a little bit. It keeps things interesting, it keeps options open for potential collaborations and things.
At first when we first put out our record, a lot of the big indie labels, like almost all of them were kind of like inquiring and knocking at our door a little bit. But none of them really made any offers that were like, concrete or you know substantial so yeah. We’ve had some interest from a lot of labels but not really, nothing super fantastic.
Some of it was, like Shake the Shackles, was from this art psychology, this French psychology book, encyclopedia I bought, it was just like some 70s book I bought in France that’s just got cool photography, just nice looking pictures. And I just used that for that um, the new record, Keegan our drummer, he has a screen printing business and does art and things. He designed that record cover. Also the, In Love with Oblivion was from a book, this book about symmetry, and we wrote the artist and got permission to use his pictures.
CB: You’ve produced most of the albums, how did it work bringing on some guys for the latest album and changed how things work for your live shows?
JB: With the first record, it was mostly me so I had to uh, kind of just on the spot I would kind of make things up or just like improvise a lot. So it’s nice that each individual member and think about their part. It kind of takes a lot of the pressure off of me with recording. It’s good, it’s also just makes things a little bit more interesting.
Lately we’ve been trying to make it sound more and more like the record. It’s kind of tough to do it without, you know there’s usually a good amount of us, but it’s tough to do it without some extra members of the band on stage. So it, we’re kind of trying to employ using effects and trying to deal with those over-dubbed gaps and little things that are taking a lot of time as best as we can.
I mean we used to, years ago we kind of just played it raw and it just really shut down, but now we’re trying to play something that sounds like the record as much as we can.
CB: You guys covered the Lee Hazelwood with Stanford Clarke. How did you decide to cover that one?
JB: I was listening to that and I was like, just kind of thought it could work, it could work with our format and our style. I kind of wanted to do a Lee Hazelwood song, like a Lee Hazelwood cover. And I didn’t want to do like the obvious one, and I was kind of listening to some of his like early stuff. Dwayne Eddie and things like that. I don’t know that one just seemed like the right thing to do.
CB: Are there any other types of music that you guys would really like to explore? Are you writing anything different?
JB: We’re writing a song right now that kind of has a little bit of a baroque quality to it. Not the whole song but there’s a part in it that’s got a baroque element to it. It’s almost like 13th Floor Elevators but with like a baroque element to it. It’s kind of like, it’s pretty cool. Some of our new songs are taking on some interesting forms as far as influence goes. Getting more, a little bit more complex with like the directions we’re going. Kind of going in many different directions at the same time.