The Young Leaves’ Christopher Chaisson talks digital releases
We posted the a latest single from Massachusetts trio the Young Leaves last week. In the interim, we spoke with guitarist and vocalist Christopher Chaisson via Facebook about the band's sound and the pros and cons of releasing music digitally. Your last release was a cassingle. Is it possible to release a more obscure or outdated musical format? I'd say the cassingle is probably the dumbest musical format that any partially sane label is willing to invest in, most likely due to it not being much of an "investment". To be fair though, we sold out of cassingles on our last tour so there are definitely some weirdos out there that are really into it. Maybe it has something to do with that "analog" sound that music nerds are so hyped up about? I don't know! Really, all of your releases since Life Underneath have been singles -- physical and digital both. Is that a build toward a full-length, or just an easier way of releasing music? The decision to go with singles is mainly to let people know that we're still alive. Over the last two years I've been through three different bassists and a couple drummers. With all of the constant change it's difficult to just bang out a full-length like we did in the past. I think our songs also stand out on there own well enough to be released two at a time (A/B side). We're definitely a pop band when all is said and done, and that makes releasing singles a logical thing to do in a way.
There also seems to be a real change in the band's recorded sound since that LP. How did the low-end, bass-forward approach come about?
Well, I've been responsible for recording and producing all of the stuff from Life Underneath to the present and weirdly enough the gear and setup haven't changed. I think the difference is mainly our "sound" itself. I had some serious problems with my vocal chords about a year ago and I've been down-tuning my guitar two full steps to make singing easier and it's produced this super low, dark vibe that we've been trying to embrace. It's still poppy and has that vibe you'd get from all of your favorite 90's indie rock bands, but the guitar sounds like it came straight out of an Electric Wizard record or something. Rico (drums) and I've been referring too it as "sludge pop".
What are the plans for the next LP? Is there a label in place, or will it be self-released?
We currently have half of the next record done and we're hoping to finish the rest of it up by January or February of next year. As far as releasing it, we're going to shop it around and see what happens but we don't have anything too serious lined up. Our current bassist, David aka D Sol, owns the label that put out our cassingle (John Wilkes Booth Records) and that's always a possibility.
[caption id="attachment_4899" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Jake Belcher"][/caption]Do you find that giving music away for free helps boost attendance at shows or moves merch? I ask because that seems to be the big argument as of late: whether putting your music up for free devalues it or not. Do you have a take on that whole argument?
I think we're at a point where bands don't profit off of their music and because of that, I believe bands are shooting themselves in the foot by not making their music accessible for free. Giving away your music gives people a risk-free chance to like your band, which in turn gives you a chance at landing another person at your show and maybe they'll buy a t-shirt or tell a friend etc.
From my experience touring and playing out, the easiest way for a band to make money is at the door, not through record sales. Also, the people who buy music are generally the nerdiest (and greatest) fucking people on the planet and will buy it regardless of whether or not it's available for free download or whatever. Not everyone is working with the same budget or prioritizing their finances the same way. Just because someone doesn't love the idea of buying music doesn't mean they don't love the idea of listening to it. I won't deny those people even if it means I end up with a bunch of dusty boxes of my own band's LP.