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Wetlands is awfully grown up, Babies Teeth and all

From its dada-esque lyrics to its soaring, scintillating rock epics, Wetlands shows a great deal of artistic maturity for a band that has only formally been together since October 2007. Its new album, Babies Teeth, is a marvel of intricate rhythms, sonic textures and expansive moods. Though there is a good deal of space rock's shimmer and headiness to the material, the songwriting is grounded in solid pop craftsmanship. We caught up with the guys at their home studio, Opponent Processor, with a few questions.

Westword: Are there any themes, musical or lyrical, that you explore on this new record?

Andy Bell: One song I couldn't think of lyrics for, so I just took a Kurt Vonnegut poem where it's an interpretation of the blue-footed booby's dance. I thought, if we're going to have lyrics that don't mean anything, we may as well make them as absurd as we can. But the fun thing about that is, I kind of misquoted it.

Cole Rudy: We use lyrics sparingly. It makes it more epic that way, and it leaves more room for rocking.

AB: I figured that if I didn't have a whole lot to say, if I said anything, I wanted to say something good.

How would you describe your music to someone who wasn't familiar with the type of music you do?

Mike Marchant: It's really aggressive. It's over the top sometimes, in a good way — bombastic. It's non-repetitive, which separates it from a lot of hard rock. There's very little repetition in these songs.

Did you record at Opponent Processor? Have you recorded elsewhere?

CR: The only other place that Wetlands recorded was in a garage on a laptop with two SM57s. We did it in one day live. At Opponent Processor, having Corey Brown and Mike Marchant was huge.

AB: At the time we started the recording, Mike was just doing vocal harmonies and synth parts, and he wasn't in the band. Having those fresh ears and a new perspective on the music was essential. I never told Mike this, but before Cole joined the band, the whole idea was to get someone who could do samples and play keys.

MM: Corey's always the one doing the bare-bones stuff; he's really good at that, like recording drums. I'm bad at that. He did all of that and sent it down here for me to mess around with, because that's what I really like to do — craft sound and things around the song that exists already that are mostly in the background. A lot of it is taken from sampling other elements of the song, like sampling a tiny piece of guitar and fucking it up until it's not a guitar anymore, and making intros to a song where there's a quiet part that could use some atmosphere. I started doing that as soon as the basic tracks were down, and that's how I got to play the synths in this band.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.

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