Since the release of their highly-praised second album, Denton's Dreaming, experimental trio Shiny Around the Edges have been working on their third full-length, The Night Is a Disco, which takes the band's bass-heavy sound in a new direction. Two of the three brains behind the outfit are husband and wife Michael and Jenny Seman, who sought the help of many of their friends for the recording process, as well as the shooting of their newest music video for "Seven Knots." The video is actually a short film that captures the essence of the entire album, rather than one single, and was shot in an old, abandoned house on Texas Street, recently purchased by City Council member Kevin Roden.
Describe the writing and recording process for the new album. Jenny: The writing process for this record took place over a long period of time, with Michael doing several tracks on his laptop, myself writing several songs on the piano and [saxophonist] Mike Forbes doing a lot of the arranging in the studio. Justin Lemons and I formed a band about two years ago called The Rayzor Ranch Davidians. It was mostly a recording project based around the piano and our love for old jazz recordings. Justin and I, and eventually Ryan Williams, would meet once a week or so and improvise around some piano parts, and eventually Justin started recording the songs that came out of these sessions on his analog machines. On The Night Is a Disco, the songs "Reading Scripts," "Mexico" and "War Love Song" come from those Rayzor Ranch Davidian Sessions. Michael: Jen wrote most of the songs on this album. I composed the instrumental tracks and contributed "Quicklime," which was written the winter after the release of Denton's Dreaming.
What are some of the differences, musically and conceptually, between your new album and the material you released before it? Michael: Probably the single biggest difference with our new album is that we Denton-magically received a free piano in our home one night after we released Denton's Dreaming. This encouraged Jen to start writing piano-based songs, which ended up being the core of the new collection of songs. In contrast, Denton's Dreaming was more focused on my songwriting. Oddly, they function as companions to some degree, since both albums are Denton-centric, exploring the people, inter-personal relationships, and place of the city, yet each comes at it from a different perspective. Jenny: This album is different from the last one in that it is less heavy, and there is quite a bit of piano. Also, there is saxophone all over this record. Although there are heavy tracks, like "Canyon Song" and "Quicklime," which we have been playing live for a while, Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, two areas that I study, influenced many of the songs I wrote for this record. I also wanted to try to write a more traditional, classic kind of song, which is part of the inspiration for "Summer Waltz."
Why did you decide to release your album at Macaroni Island? Michael: We wanted the show celebrating the album to be a free event and more of a house party atmosphere to reflect the intimacy of the album's material. We were familiar with Macaroni Island, as we filmed the "Quicklime" project there and thought it would be a good space to play an entire set. The fact that Michael Briggs from Gutterth runs it made it very easy for us, logistically. We asked two of our favorite bands to play--Forever Home and Eccotone--so it will be a fun time no matter how many people decide to join us.
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Describe the concept behind the music video you recently shot. Michael: Well, we were originally thinking we would do a video for a song from the album, but then thought, "Pffft, why make a video when we can make a short film that is evocative of the entire album?" The film is entitled Seven Knots. We are fortunate that all of our friends in Denton are also incredibly creative and work professionally in their chosen artistic fields. Once we expressed our idea to people, everyone enthusiastically offered their time and talents to the project, which was incredibly flattering and heartwarming. To me, one of the most outstanding achievements of the project is that we were able to recreate the reckless abandon of a house show in Denton. I've seen some of the rough footage and it is hard to believe that if you were looking in the other direction, you would have seen a plethora of cameras, lights, crew people and a director. I'm not sure when it will be completed but, for the love of God, I hope it takes less time than Shiny does between albums. I'm sure Gutterth will second that desire.
What makes you most excited about this release? Michael: We are excited about The Night Is a Disco, as it is completely different than our last two albums. As an artist, there is always the fear that you will not continue to develop and explore. Jenny: I am interested to learn how other people hear this record. I have no idea what kind of impression or vibe it will give. The songs have really specific meanings to me, but I am always interested in what other people hear, or how they interpret songs.
Do you plan to tour? Michael: We have no specific plans as yet, but the option is always there, as we have fairly flexible schedules. We are interested in supporting a bigger artist again and will pursue that path as well as continue our sporty jaunts across our fine state.
Catch Shiny Around the Edges' album release with Forever Home and Eccotone on Friday, November 16, at Macaroni Island.