Sprain Interview: “We contrast things that are comfortable.”

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Sprain’s debut album As Lost Through Collision is out on September 4th via The Flenser.

With their debut album As Lost Through Collision set to drop next month, we chatted with Sprain vocalist/guitarist Alex Kent and bassist April Gerloff to discuss their evolving noise rock sound, the current shape of music, and a little bit of architecture.

Overblown: How did the changes on your new album’s sound come about?

Alex: When we were writing the self-titled EP there was a lot of material that sounded like what you hear in the upcoming LP. But the environment it was recorded created a lot of obstacles. It was recorded in an apartment so we couldn’t record anything too loud. On the new LP, there was a more concerned effort to approach it from an angle that was more unique or less explored.

April: It has something to do with adding Max (Pretzer) and Alex (Simmons). There was a lot we couldn’t achieve as a three-piece. We definitely intended on doing stuff at some live performances.

Overblown: How did adding two new band members affect your songwriting?

Alex: The songwriting process typically starts with an idea or an impressionistic mental concept that I have. I bring it forward and then we all work around it until it resembles something else entirely. So the process has been totally altered by the contributions of the two new members because there’s all these ideas going back and forth in a network of concepts. There is no physical idea like, “Here’s the chorus, here’s the rhythm.” It’s more, “This is the goal, let’s work towards it.” The process between making that mental cerebral image into physical sound is where the actual writing takes place.

Overblown: Beyond music where do you draw some influence?

April: I feel like this is the only channel I can express myself in certain ways. There’s a lot of restlessness that I deal with especially with the stuff happening now. I’ve been working in the music industry for the past two years and there’s a lot of things that I find problematic and troublesome and it does cause an existential dread. In a place like LA where you have super privileged musicians and their parents are big-time directors and they have this high-tech gear, I feel like Sprain is the opposite of that. Like Alex’s guitar is falling apart. We contrast things that are comfortable. I feel like I’m doing a service to the community by providing an alternative. That’s what drives me outside the actual music. I heard about Indonesia Gamelan music which – to my knowledge – is not something you get paid for. It’s a service you do for the community. Providing an alternative inspires me so people can see non-Hollywood people coming over and putting the music out.

Overblown: Do you think there’s any art that captures similar feelings or ideas as Sprain?

Alex: I’d say most of our inspirations are within the same emotional vein. Lots of people that we’re surrounded with feel the same way that we do about stuff. Instead of being this band that is carving out this completely unique, singular musical project we are more a reflection of everything that currently surrounds us.

April: What your question made me think about is about when Alex stumbled on these Brutalist blueprints and said he wanted them to be the theme of our album’s artwork.

Overblown: What is it about the Brutalist architecture that you feel has similar qualities with Sprain’s music?

Alex: I found it’s angular, cold, and sterile and I think our music is angular, cold, and sterile. It’s not very colourful, it’s concrete. It was an artistic point to make that kind of building that we were seeing in these Brutalism books our album art. We wanted it to reflect the way the songs were arranged with multiple layers and the angular parts interweaving with each other.

Overblown: As Sprain takes a lot from ‘90s rock music, what inherent qualities do you think ‘90s rock has that ‘70s or ‘80s rock doesn’t that makes it so appealing to you?

Alex: By the time the mid-’80s and ‘90s rolled around sounds that were not rock – at least in instrumentation – were becoming more streamlined and available on the radio. In the ‘90s people who didn’t delve into rock music thought rock music was just grunge. That made a lot of space for rock musicians to do whatever they wanted and to create music that had no chance of being a radio hit. Rock music was more of an artistic effort. That was the golden age for that style of rock music. I feel like now it’s still happening because rock is far from being the most commercially successful music around today. I think there is no real excuse for bands not to create something interesting.

Overblown: Do you think it’s a blessing in disguise that rock isn’t as popular as it used to be?

April: Rap music deserves to be where it is now. You have artists like clipping or Shabazz Palaces doing unique things with it. They’re doing the work that rock music is not doing right now.

Alex: A similar thing is happening in rap music nowadays that was happening in the ‘80s and ‘90s of rock. I know there are some people who consider mainstream rap to not be as artistically inclined or technically proficient as underground stuff. That creates a fertile bed of people to make experimental, interesting and artful rap music.

Overblown: It’s the idea that well I’m not going to make it big anyway so I might as well do what I want to do.

Alex: There’s this wealth of creativity and experience that people in the underground have. Of course there’s nothing wrong with those who decide the commercial route is the way to go but I don’t think that’s what we as a band want. We’re not interested in that.

Overblown: Did signing with The Flenser affect your sound in any way?

Alex: The record was written entirely before we signed with them. One thing I really like about that label is when you work with them closely they don’t tell you, “This song isn’t good enough,” or “This is too weird.” They just say, “Okay that’s music.” While there’s compromises that still need to be made, musically and artistically you can do whatever you want because that’s what they want to try. That’s something I really respect about them.

Overblown: Lastly, what have you guys been doing to stay productive during the epidemic?

April: We’ve been mainly working on new material. I didn’t know we could take some stuff to the next level and we’re taking it to the next level. I’m looking forward to when we can play it for people.

Pre-order As Lost Though Collision via Bandcamp.

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