Times New Viking is one busy little band. Last week, they released their latest record entitled Dancer Equired on Merge Records. Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s the band’s strongest work to date—a logical evolution of the vociferous rock and roll the group has been pounding into our eardrums since their inception. A few weeks back, just ahead of their European tour, Adam, Beth and Jared snuck down to Athens to headline a night of Blackoutfest at the Union. The Aquabear couldn’t miss out on a chance to sit down with these Ohio-bred noisemakers, so we cornered them in an alley and politely asked them to partake in an interview. They kindly obliged.
Aquabear: You folks have been jumping around labels quite a bit lately, your latest release will be coming out on Merge Records. What was the reasoning behind the move to this new label?
Jared: No one else wanted to do it. I don’t think…
Adam: That’s not true. (laughs) It’s just a matter of contracts, I guess. We had the chance to be on a different label so we just went for it.
Jared: We liked Merge’s logo a little better.
Aquabear: Well, you have this new record coming out via Merge entitled Dancer Equired. It’s a definite shift from the sound of your previous records. It’s, for lack of a better word, ‘cleaner’ sounding than the recordings you’ve done in the past. Was this conscious decision, or something that came about naturally?
Jared: You know, you just grow up sometimes. You just get older.
Adam: Yeah, it’s natural. Our first three records were in a basement, our fourth one we moved upstairs…
Jared: Into a living room.
Adam: …this one we got in a car. But we only drove, like, four miles from our house. But all of our mics were busted when we got home so it was just easier…
Jared: I just wanted someone else to do all the monkey crap, plugging microphones in. It was easy, I didn’t have to do anything.
Adam: We still did it with our friend, and the studio—Musicol in Columbus—is amazing.
Aquabear: Could you talk a bit more about that studio? I was initially somewhat surprised you did it there. I’d also heard you split your time between Musicol and the CDR studios.
Adam: Well, we recorded it all at Musicol, and then we did mixing at CDR. Adam Smith [owner of CDR] recorded it all at Musicol.
Aquabear: So was that an interesting experience for you guys? I know they have a fair amount of vintage equipment there…
Jared: Yeah, they’ve got thousands and thousands of dollars worth of microphones and crap like that. And we still sound like crap!
Adam: The last couple of years, Adam [Smith] has been in there fixing up the old mics and everything…
Jared: [Adam] looked like Elvis, he was singing into an Elvis mic. I think he had a pompadour… is that what it’s called?
Adam: It’s still a lot cheaper than what Flood asked for.
Jared: Yeah, and Butch Vig.
Aquabear: Well, you’ve already touched on this a bit, but for a band that’s been predominantly self-recorded throughout your career, was it a challenge going into a studio?
Beth: It was easier…
Jared: It was easy, yeah, I just got drunk… I mean, I got drunk before but…
Beth: Usually Jared has to stress out about the equipment and the recording…
Jared: Well, because nothing ever worked!
Adam: I’d be like “Hey, can we get double vocals?” And he’d go “Can’t do that, man”
Jared: I can’t do double vocals man, I’ve gotta dump it down onto something and then I’ve gotta put it back on VHS tapes, and then I’ve gotta play it through my Big Wheel…
Beth: It was a big weight off of our backs.
Adam: And it was really easy too, because it wasn’t like we were in there with someone we didn’t know who was barking orders at us or anything. It was one of oldest friends in town, so that made it really easy.
Jared: It’s just funny to be in a band for seven years and you just start talking about recording in a studio like it’s this crazy thing.
Adam: It was like in Hoosiers, we had to measure: “There’s still ten feet here, just like back in Hickory.”
Jared: Yeah, Hoosiers. It was like Hoosiers! (laughs)
Aquabear: You guys put out this really beautiful promo video prior to the record’s release—it showed you traipsing through your small Ohio hometowns. Do you feel as if thematically this record touches on that nostalgia for your roots and where you came from, specifically in Ohio?
Beth: We wrote most of the songs while we were touring in the past year, so it’s kind of the opposite of that, or maybe trying to balance a sense of home with never actually being home.
Adam: Yeah, thinking about home a lot when you’re not there. And then we came back and it was summer, I guess we were kind of nostalgic about living in Ohio again.
Aquabear: Speaking of which, you’re a band that has stuck around Ohio when you probably could have moved just about anywhere you wanted to. What about Ohio and Columbus specifically makes it a great place for you to continue making music?
Jared: Well, you know, I don’t want to live that far away from family and stuff like that. I don’t know… I just think everywhere sucks. Everywhere is just as bad as everywhere else. And I would never want to move to Brooklyn—people always ask us, “Why didn’t you guys just move to New York or something?” Because I don’t want to buy a nine dollar beer every night… it’s retarded.
Beth: We like living in a mid-sized city, we were all born and raised in Ohio, and sure we’ve probably at some point had an itch to move, but since we get to travel so much, why wouldn’t we want to live somewhere that’s cheap, where we know everyone, where it’s comfortable?
Jared: And, you know, it’s nine hours to New York—we’re kind of in the middle of the country. Well, maybe not so much…
Adam: And also there’s this idea that people just assume if you’re from a small town or Ohio, that you want to move. But I never imagined myself in a big city, I imagined myself ending up on a farm or something.
Jared: When I was a teenager, Columbus was like this metropolitan, huge major city—and it is a big city—still, where I’m from it’s like, why would I ever need anything else? They’ve got more than one McDonalds in Columbus—I don’t need anything more than that.
Adam: Plus, records are really hard to move…
Beth: Yeah, we all have a lot of records…
Jared: I’m too old for that crap, I’m not gonna move. I don’t have enough energy. I spend enough time in a stupid van.
Aquabear: Well, on the subject of touring, over the past year you’ve toured with the likes of Guided By Voices, Pavement and Superchunk…
Jared: All the classics—you name a famous ’90s indie rock band, chance are I’ve either played with them or met a dude who signed them or something. It’s like Kevin Bacon over here…
Aquabear: Yeah, six degrees of separation from ’90s indie rockers.
Beth: Actually, like one degree.
Jared: One degree of Times New Viking.
Aquabear: What has it been like sharing the stage with these people? Do you have any stories about meeting Robert Pollard or hanging out with Stephen Malkmus?
Adam: They automatically just start hugging us, we’re like the Ohio pride. It’s fun talking to those bands, because you really just end up talking about sports. They like having us around because we don’t ever talk about music.
Aquabear: Yeah, I’ve noticed there’s quite a bit of OSU coverage on the band’s Twitter feed.
Adam: Yup, Cincinnati Reds, OSU…
Jared: Yeah, you don’t really need to ask any of those people anything about music, because I already know what kind of stuff Bob Pollard listens to, I don’t need to ask him.
Adam: It’s really fun too, I think they like us because we’re very small on stage. They don’t have to move their drums or anything.
Beth: We’re real low maintenance.
Jared: The most convenient opening band. Ever.
Adam: And when they say we only get 30 minutes tonight, we get excited.
Jared: We end up getting people to drink too. Bands that probably don’t usually drink as much…
Adam: We got WILD FLAG to party.
Jared: Yeah, we got those girls to go out. Clubbin’.
Aquabear: So, what’s next for you guys? You’re headed to Europe?
Beth: On Tuesday.
Jared: You ever see that movie European Vacation? Just like that.
Adam: I’m excited because I’m actually gonna eat food and sleep.
Jared: Even sleep in a hotel sometimes, that’d be nice! Not some dude’s couch…
Beth: Fresh linens!
Aquabear: Any recording plans?
Adam: We’ve got some stuff… we recorded an EP that will hopefully come out by the end of the year.
Aquabear: Also on Merge?
Adam: Also in a studio, but on a four track. We’re mixing it up.
Jared: Crazy. You can’t do that.
Adam: Those bloggers are not gonna know what to do with themselves.