Space Between Words are one of Miami’s pioneering psychedelic garage bands, and they’ve got a new EP. Valley of The Lizard King was just released last week, and we decided to catch up with the CMJ chart topping band and discuss their new release, touring for SXSW, and bloody music videos.
So, to start, March seems like it’s going to be quite the busy month for you guys. Last week you had a release party for your new EP, Valley of The Lizard King at The Stage. How does it feel to finally be able to release your new stuff?
Steven: Well To quote the Flaming Lips, “It’s kind of like when you’re at the circus: you’re happy, but nervous.”
We’re all really excited and we’ve been anticipating the release of our EP and playing them live. It was a great experience to finally play all the songs and see how the crowd reacted to them. It was scary at first, because it’s a change of style for us and we had taken a couple months away from playing live. Once the set was over and the hoard of people showed their approval through screams and applause, it felt good to know we had made another great album for our fans.
The aforementioned show was also acting as your SXSW kickoff gig. Being your second appearance at SXSW, do you think your on stage dynamic has changed at all since the last? Anything you took from that prior show that you’re keeping in mind for this one?
Steven: I know we’re coming better armed for SXSW than our last encounter. Last year was a fun learning experience and we went focused on playing our showcase, but we soon realized that the festival is so much more than just showcases concerts. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you are going to get drowned out by the other 1,999 bands. Most magazines write about the same exact bands as their top picks every year. We were lucky and got some great buzz following our participation in it, which made people keep an interest eye looking our way. Standing out is tactical. We’ve got some exciting plans in store and a guerrilla street team in place to execute them.
As for our stage performance, just like the new EP, it is contagiously electrical. SXSW is just a part of our tour. We’re excited about our SESAC Showcase in Atlanta and our several shows lined up in Tennessee as well.
Tells us about recording with Daniel Wills of Armoury Studios for your new EP. You recorded it in a short two months, how did you get so much done in so little time?
Steven: Recording with Daniel was a wild learning experience full of insanity and unhinged creativity. We felt very challenged by his talent and his vision for the album, so it squeezed the best out of us note by note, beat by beat. In December, we knew we wanted to finally put out new material by our tour to SXSW and we had planned for a while to work with Daniel in some facet, so everything finally just came together. We sat down the first night had a few beers and played several songs for him at The Armory. We went through about 11 songs and selected the 7 tracks that would end up on the EP. I remember how excited we were after that first night. This really went on to embody how the album would be recorded: an unfastened and collaborative effort. He took a realistic approach to our seemingly unrealistic deadline that we threw on his lap, pushing us to dig deep and explore our sound while remaining organic and purely SBW. There were a lot of long nights, drunken hijinks, fried chicken (tons of fried chicken) and it was exhausting, but Daniel remained such a positive force that propelled us forward at full speed.
Much of the album was in fact written (and rewritten) as we recorded it. In many cases we work on lyrics and melodies on the spot, jammed out ideas with each other and improvised. They were skeletons, and the five of us (including Daniel) sat down and put some meat on those bones… and a leather jacket.
How do you think the general sound of the band has evolved since And We All Follow The Sun?
Steven: We’ve grown as musicians, as a band and most importantly closer as friends. As a result, you hear that there is an organic development in our abilities and musical chemistry. Not only did Daniel push us to put out something bold, but I really believe we all went in their wanting to prove something to each other. Sometimes it feels like sibling rivalry, but I think that helps us create something dynamic and powerful.
I will always love And We All Follow the Sun. It launched us and the songs were some much fun, but the new EP immediately demonstrates that our debut effort didn’t define us.
The Valley of the Lizard King is a heavier sound. The guitars are thick and the vocals are dynamic. It’s driving and compels you to move your body. We wanted to capture that energy from our live shows and send it out to your nervous system through your ears and out your toes. You also have a lot of fun beats and interweaving rhythms. I remember saying, when just the bass and drums were laid down, that you can easily hear someone rapping over it.
Lyrically, the album is much more introverted than our debut effort. The first album dealt with stories, things I’d observed and relaid. This album is a cathartic release. It deals with personal growth following tragedy. You can either learn to fill yourself with love or chain yourself down with sadness and regret. I had a tough 2010 and it took me two years to get through it. I don’t want anyone else to ever feel that kind of despair, but people will. At least I put something out into the universe that might let you know you’re not alone and it’ll get better. Some pain doesn’t go away, but you learn to live with it and turn it into something beautiful. We all make beautiful things from the air around us.
Is Valley of the Lizard King a Doors reference, or just a coincidence?
Steven: The name of the album comes from the title track on the EP. That song sums up the tone of the album and where we were writing from. Last year, we went on tour to the west coast and spent 9 days during it in Las Vegas. It’s become one of my favorite cities to play and visit. I found myself taking advantage of the strange landscape that surrounds the city. I went on long treks through the Valley of Fire, Red Rock and Mount Charleston. It was isolating and I had time to think. I hadn’t felt clarity like that in a couple years. I kept going back trying to find something and I felt that I really found myself out there.
Several lines were inspired from this trip, for example: “When your mind is not stable, when your soul is not able, the desert wind whispers I am here,” and “Learn to love, learn to live, learn to love and learn to forgive.”
After that I came back, scraped anything I had written before and over the next 6 months began constantly working on a new material the really made me feel uplifted and like I was letting go of my negative constraints.
I’m not sure how Jim Morrison, and subsequently The Doors, reference came about. In fact, the album had a different title for the majority of the recording period, but last minute we opted to use use the track’s name as the title, because we thought that it better suited the atmosphere of the EP. I think it’s kind of our way of letting you know that this album is meant to be an exploration of yourself.
You’ve mentioned the release of a music video soon, which allegedly contains lot’s of “pinatas and blood.” Sounds dangerous. How do you go about coming up with music video ideas?
Steven: Once the band chooses a song to release as a single, Robert and I tend to come up with the music video ideas and how to shoot it. We both have a background in film. From there we sit down as a band and kind of have fun with the project. It’s great watching the idea evolve once we start working on it together. We try to have as much fun with each video as possible.
Our next video will be for our new single off of the EP titled “Tiger.” We’ll be shooting it right away when we get back from our tour. Creating the idea for this music video was a fun team effort by the whole band and it is going to be a crazy project. All I can tell you is: Pinatas, Grind House… Revenge!
Describe the new EP in 5 words.
Steven: You got me feelin’ electric
Verdi: Like chuck norris on speed
Cubed: It will get you off
Rob: Dynamic, psychedelic, chaotic, surreal, cathartic
3/16: RedGorilla Fest @ Thirsty Nickel – Austin, TX
3/19 Sesac Showcase STRIP showcase- Atlanta, GA
3/24: Space Between Words @ The Bellini Bistro-Bentley Hotel, South Beach
3/25: Wynwood Green @ The Armoury Studios