The Morning Benders: Bigger is Necessarily Better

The Morning Benders: Bigger is Necessarily Better

The Morning Benders singer, guitarist and founder Chris Chu has been riding a high since the release of his band’s second record in March of this year, the delicious and bright Big Echo. What started out as a Chu solo project in the mid-2000s morphed into a full band two years ago when the Berkeley, California band’s debut Talking Through Tin Cans awed critics and fellow musicians. Relentless touring helped them gain the respect of the likes of Grizzly Bear, Death Cab for Cutie, Yo La Tengo and Yeasayer, which ultimately resulted in their being signed to the vaunted Rough Trade label for the release of their newest record. Big Echo shimmers a sunny California pop vibe with touches of strings and horns, filled to the brim with big thoughts, big ideas and big sounds. We exchanged a few words with Chris Chu.

Obviously the band made waves with its debut but was the critical and fan acclaim that greeted Big Echo a little unexpected?
We had no idea what to expect. If there is anything I’ve learned from working within the music industry, it’s that 90% of what goes on here is completely arbitrary. So we try not to expect anything. That said, we did feel like we had made something quite special with Big Echo, so it’s nice to see that some people feel the same way.

What did Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor (producer/mixer) bring to the mix on Big Echo?
Chris brought a much needed clarity to the mixes. He helped us organize. We had tracked the record quite quickly before teaming up with Chris, and we had a lot of ideas on tape. He did a great job of helping us weed through all those ideas and pick the most powerful ones.

How has the band adjusted to a near-endless touring schedule?
It’s been totally crazy. By the end of this year we will have toured for 10 months straight. Touring is already sort of an unnatural state of being, and 10 months of it has quite a relentless effect on your body. We love it though, and I think it’s super important. A huge part of why people aren’t buying music is because the internet and mp3s have disconnected listeners from the people that are actually making music. It’s easy to download an album for free and forget that there are actual human beings that made that music; bands and artists that are trying to make a living somewhere. When you go to a show you get to see these people, and are reminded of that fact.

Are you happy with the way the album has translated into the live setting, given the orchestral and instrumental additions on many of the tracks?
I’m never happy. Nothing ever sounds as good as I want it to. We do work really hard to find interesting and new ways to play the songs live though. That’s part of the fun for me. When we were making the album we knew a lot of it wouldn’t translate live. A lot of Big Echo is quite subtle. And nuances don’t work so well live, when a lot of people are drunk and partying.

The Morning Benders
November 6th | Cabaret Mile-End
5240, Avenue du Parc
with Twin Sister and Oberhofer
www.themorningbenders.com

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