Le Loup's 2007's debut, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, was essentially a Sam Simkoff solo project with some help from Christian Ervin that relied on a fair amount of knob-twiddling and multi-tracking. Over the last two years, Simkoff assembled a band to interpret those songs as well as contribute to new ones that appear on Family, released last month on Hardly Art. Simkoff says about half of the Family songs began as improvisations, while the other half were carefully manipulated. Although there are some similarities between the two albums, Family is a more organic affair, with traces of Yeasayer and Animal Collective. We spoke with Simkoff about how it differs from the act's debut.
Westword: Would you say Family is more organic than The Throne in the way that it came together?
Sam Simkoff: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, you're dealing with a five-person band versus just one or two people, which is how the first one was recorded. The second one is a product of that collective kind of cooperation, obviously, and working together with talented people. It's necessarily more organic because we're playing real instruments all around, whereas the first one, just because of the kind of constraints I was dealing with, I didn't know how to play half of the instruments, and I didn't own half the instruments. On the first album, there was a fair amount sequenced in from a computer.
The second one is going to feel more organic because we're all playing real instruments — real drums, real guitars, real this and that — and beyond that, we made a concerted effort to stay away from too much kind of gleeks and bloops, not knob-twisting type stuff, just because it was a more interesting challenge to kind of take what we had already of these organic instruments and turn them into something that sounds more alien and more kind of unworldly. So that, to us, is more interesting than just taking a preset or taking a synthesized sound.
It's much more intriguing to us or just satisfying to us to just take these warmer sounds — more traditional sounds — and then twist them in ways that kind of bend our ear. Generally, people say it sounds more organic than the first one, and that's very much what we were going for. Just kind of trying to replicate a little more of the live sound that we've become accustomed to in the last year or two.
I read somewhere that Family is a lot more optimistic and that you were trying to shy away from the doom and gloom of The Throne.
I think I was a lot less conscious of that stuff when writing the first album. It was kind of what I was thinking about. I don't think it was particularly pessimistic; it was more just reading a bunch of diatribes and cheesy novels. It was more dealing with fantastical elements and more escapism instead of real-world. On this album, there's less of that air of escapism. We're not trying to escape real-world problems, or build a world around ourselves or deconstruct the world as it is. It's more celebrating what we've got. Just being able to do what we've done for the last two years — it's something to celebrate.