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But what of the Earlies' logistics? The problem with having only two musicians in the band was quickly solved, since Madden convinced the seven studio players to join the quartet for touring, as the symphonic songs--full of horns and synthesizers and the kitchen sink--would be impossible to recreate on stage otherwise. In fact, Madden and Carr, as the main instrumentalists of the Earlies, got their chance to take Lapham's and Giles' ringleading status away by having control of the band's live show, which has brought more balance to the band and contributed organic, structured sounds to the engineers' unorthodox approach. But Carr's distance proved to be a bigger hurdle. After signing with Names, he and his wife moved to Manchester for six months, only to have their work visa--and money--run out.
Strangely, their prompt return to Dallas worked out in the Earlies' favor.
"It's not a sacrifice or burden at all," Lapham says. "We all kind of like the fact that we make music the way we do. It lends itself to uniqueness to the music. It's never been an option of 'should we find someone else,' because everything's worked out really well. We're all pretty happy that we have an unorthodox technique of recording a song."
Carr agrees, and he also likes the infrequent touring because of the distance between them: "We're gonna be one of those bands that tours smart, where each show is an event." But when pressed with questions about the distance, Carr, between jokes about racking up frequent flyer miles, admits to more than a little frustration, particularly because of festival schedules in England this summer that left Carr twiddling his thumbs for weeks between gigs.
"Even though it was kind of a beating, it's something we needed to do," Carr says. "We don't have to worry about the U.K. for a while. Now we can focus on America, which I'm excited about."
Really, the American tour that begins in less than a month is Carr's chance to catch up to the rest of the band. Only when he talks about driving across the country with his bandmates does he become focused and stop treating the band as a laid-back experiment, a perspective Lapham clearly counters when he says, "We always set out from the beginning to go as far as we possibly could."
In comparison, Carr's detachment makes sense for the only member of the Earlies with a Texas drawl, and his repeated statements about the band's sound being a personal departure are his subliminal way of saying what he really means: that the label contract, the album sales and the festivals still seem surreal, still seem thousands of miles away. But when he lights up near the end of the conversation, it's obvious that the reality is finally somewhere he can relate to--his hometown.
"I keep telling my family--no, look, really, I'm in this band, really, really," Carr says. "The Guardian, a national newspaper over there, gives us a four-out-of-four rating, two-page spread, and the English are like, 'Oh God, I can't believe this, amazing.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, that's cool.' But man, I haven't seen anything in the Dallas Observer! That's what I've read since I was 10."
The distance between Carr and the Earlies will shorten even more next year when Lapham moves back to Texas for six months--it's already time to begin work on the next album, and this time, Lapham wants to complete it in the States.
"I'll hopefully be able to work with Brandon more. Whether he wants it or not, I dunno," Lapham jokes, but he and Carr know it means one more chance to stare out of a Texas studio window together.