On Leaping From Texas

The quest for being not-so-secret machines started for Oceanographer in New York City

"I'm afraid I'm gonna get my ears blown out," I say, cramming into the nine-by-nine space as the boys strap on their instruments.

"You forget," says Yocum, "we're one of the quietest bands in the world."

They are, in fact, almost lulling, even at this close range, although songs off their as-yet-unrecorded third album have a thrilling crescendo Yocum says is "three times louder than we've played before." I ask them to play something off On Leaping From Airplanes, but Yocum stalls, saying he needs an acoustic guitar (he has since switched to electric), complaining he can't remember the words. After beer has been replaced by bourbon, he admits the process of making the album was so difficult he kind of resents it.

"I can't stand listening to that album, to be honest," he says.

The songs, not surprisingly, are about the risk and vulnerability required to make a leap of faith. As Yocum sings on the album opener, "It's always hard to let go the first dozen or so times until you realize you'll fly instead of fall."

Kimbrell bristles at Yocum's comment. "I think it's a great album," he says. "I mean, you come here below your means and you scratch your way through it. We had no money and we had no equipment, but we made a time capsule of our experience." They have a lot of conversations like this, inward-looking and deeply critical, like they are trying to excavate some deeper truth about their music. It stems from being in New York, a place where compliments are never handed out like lollipops at the doctor's office, where experience wears you down, hopefully to a sharp, glinty edge.

"Denton is so comfortable," says Brown, playing drums in his socks. "But I could see us being 38 years old and playing Rubber Gloves."

"Denton was so good to us," says Yocum. "But we moved up here and thought, 'Maybe we should be making better music.'" And they are.

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