Drony and dizzying dream-pop outfit Lower Dens just released their sophomore album “Nootropics” on Ribbon Music. Jana Hunter and her men delivered a minimal masterpiece that addresses our relationship with technology. We Skype-called Geoff Graham, who’s responsible for the throbbing bass sounds on the album, and we got to know a bit about the concept behind the record – though pretty soon we were talking about guns, H.P. Lovecraft and ‘sex, broccoli and rock ’n’ roll’. The guilty pleasures of life…
In the video for ‘Brains’ Jana stares into the camera with a resigned look on her face, making her seem sort of omniscient. She kind of reminded me of Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. As a spectator it gave me an awkward feeling, as if she knew all of my secrets. Does that say anything about her, or does that say something about me?
I think Jana knows all of your secrets, so you should treat her well. There’s this interesting thing that happens when you let somebody look into the camera: all of a sudden you feel like you’re being watched, like the video is watching you. That’s one of the ideas we wanted to create, not just with that video, but also with the album. We want people to be conscious of their relationship with technology; we want them to have a question on their minds about technology, machinery and themselves. Maybe it’s not just us using machines, maybe machines are using us a little bit.
Do you all have Twitter and/or Facebook accounts?
Not individually, but as a band we do. I don’t like how it can suck you in, so I don’t have any. So personally I’m not being used. “Laughs”
Did anybody throw their TV set out of the window after seeing the video, thinking it was broken?
Actually, we heard a rumour that in England they banned it from a channel that plays music videos. We weren’t expecting that at all, but it’s downright funny. TV companies should thank us for it, we almost increased the sale of TVs!
Nootropics are smart drugs that improve mental functions such as memory and intelligence. A guilty pleasure?
We named the album that not in the sense that you should use or not use them; it’s more like the album explores the question of what it means to be a conscious human being in this age where all of a sudden technology and science are dealing with a lot of questions like ‘What is consciousness and what can we do with it?’ and ‘How can we improve ourselves and our environment and maybe repair some of the damage that we’ve done?’ So that title is more of a question than an answer.
Any innocent or guilty pleasures you want to share with us?
We have this thing we like to do when we’re on tour and we stay at a hotel where breakfast is included. We’ll wake up at 06:00 to eat breakfast and then go to bed again. Then at 09:00 when they’re almost cleaning up we’ll go for a second round. Less innocent, perhaps, is that some of us like to shoot guns at the shooting range. I don’t like guns, but I fall into that thing where it’s fun to shoot some rounds. Also I really enjoy reading H.P. Lovecraft. I can feel really guilty about that, because he’s a total racist sometimes.
I’m also curious about your ‘unguilty’ pleasures. How do you stay upright with so many tour dates?
We try to eat a lot of fresh vegetables and do exercises. I really try to take as good care of myself physically as possible. We also try not to drink too much alcohol on tour.
That sounds like you’re the healthiest band in the world. Sex, broccoli and Rock ’n’ Roll!
“Laughs” It’s not what’s expected, but we found that you can’t finish a tour otherwise. It’s great to cut loose and have some fun, like on the last night of tour or on some nights in the middle, but we try to keep it under control. At least we won’t fall out of coconut trees. What other guilty pleasures have you heard about?
Stealing groceries out of baskets that are left unattended in the aisle; a secret stash of Anne Geddes cards; tattoos of dolphins; watching “As The World Turns,” eating a whole bag of mini KitKats… I could go on.
And do you have one?
Um, peeing in the shower. Now you know my secret. Don’t tell Jana.
She already knows, because you watched the video. She basically saw it happening!
Lower Dens play on 11 May at the Walk The Line Festival in The Hague and 17 May at the DEAF Festival in Rotterdam.