Published Sep 02, 2014Back in June, long-running NYC avant-rock trio Blonde Redhead announced that their first album in four years, Barragán, was on the way courtesy of Kobalt. Having released their previous three LPs on the influential 4AD label, the band tells Exclaim! that they chose to leave and pursue other options for releasing their ninth album.
"Our contract was over and it felt like it was time to part ways and try something else," drummer Simone Pace says. "We did three records on Touch & Go, three records on 4AD… I think three records is good with one label because they change a lot. At this point I don't know what 4AD are doing right now. But it was reciprocal, it wasn't just us. They weren't interested in continuing with us. So it was an easy decision."
Instead of shopping around a new album, Blonde Redhead decided to try something new and team up with their publishing company, Kobalt. Pace says the venture has allowed them the type of freedom they've desired for some time.
"We really wanted to try out something else, and with Kobalt, we have such a good deal. We're doing something right. It's better. They have label services, but it's a publishing company extending to try different things. We can decide who we want to work with as far as publicity, producers and distribution for the record. And they keep everything tied together. So it's kind of a new way of doing things."
Barragán marks the second time in a row they've worked with Drew Brown (Radiohead, Beck). After engineering their previous album, 2010's Penny Sparkle, they promoted him to producer for the new LP. Brown's influence is both immediate and substantial, as Barragán marks a significant shift towards minimalism.
"The producer Drew was adamant in keeping things minimal, because we've made records that had so much layering, like [2004's] Misery Is a Butterfly, which had so much going on," Pace says. "He thought we should do something new, but also make the record sound timeless. It's a pretty vulnerable-sounding record as well, but everything stands out, nothing gets cluttered. There is plenty of space, which was great. With this record, there was a much better balance working with Drew, much better than making [2010's] Penny Sparkle."
As for how long we should expect to wait for Barragán's successor, Pace notes that 21 years into their career, Blonde Redhead require a significant amount of time to make an album.
"I don't think we could do records any faster," he admits. "The first record you have your whole life to write. The second record came easily because we didn't tour that much. When we tour it's very hard to write, so we really have to make time. Things get harder when you get older and making records. Especially with us, it's not like we're going to put out [2007's] 23 and then make another record that sounds like it just because 23 did well. We did Penny Sparkle. We sort of reinvent ourselves and that takes time. We always take a different approach."
Blonde Redhead will also hit the road on a North American tour starting in November. The month-long jaunt includes three Canadian dates in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto. Find them below.
Barragán arrives today (September 2) via Kobalt.
09/12 Milan, Italy - Mito Festival
09/13 Copenhagen, Denmark - Vega
09/14 Aarhus, Denmark - Voxhall
09/16 Cologne, Germany - Gebaude 9
09/17 Berlin, Germany - Frannz Club
09/19 Groningen, Holland - Vera
09/20 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Tolhuistuin
09/21 Brussels, Belgium - Botanique
09/22 Paris, France - Trianon
09/23 Rouen, France - 106
09/26 Istanbul, Turkey - Hayal Kahvesi
09/27 Turkey - Istanbul - Hayal Kahvesi
09/29 London, UK - Islington Assembly Hall
10/02 Toulouse, France - Bikini
10/03 Lyon, France - Epicerie Moderne
10/04 Friboug, Switzerland - Fri-Son
10/05 Luzern, Switzerland - Club Le Schuur
11/01 Pittsburgh, PA - Mr. Smalls
11/03 Chicago, IL - Bottom Lounge
11/04 Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theatre
11/07 Vancouver, BC - Vogue
11/08 Seattle, WA - Neumos
11/09 Portland, OR - Doug Fit
11/11 San Francisco, CA - Regency Ballroom
11/12 Los Angeles, CA - Fonda Theatre
11/13 Pomona, CA - Glasshouse
11/15 San Diego, CA - House of Blues
11/17 Austin, TX - Mohawk
11/18 Dallas, TX - Granada
11/20 Atlanta, GA - Terminal West
11/21 Carrboro, NC - Cats Cradle
11/22 Washington, DC - Howard Theatre
11/24 Philadelphia, PA - Union Transfer
11/26 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
11/28 Montreal, QC - Club Soda
11/29 Toronto, ON - Mod Club
12/01 Boston, MA - Sinclair
12/02 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg