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Q&A: Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin

By Daniel Kohn on August 13, 2010


Q&A: Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin

Time flies when you are having fun, especially if you are Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin. The band will be releasing its third album, Let It Sway, on August 17 via Polyvinyl Records. For the recording of the LP, the band packed their bags and headed to Madison, Wisconsin to record with Beau Sorenson, the first time the band has worked with a producer. To cap it's busy year, the band is  embarking on a Fall tour of the U.S. and Europe. FILTER recently caught up with drummer/vocalist Phillip Dickey to discuss whether or not the band’s namesake ever heard of the band, how their songwriting differed on this album and what was like to stay at Sorenson’s house during the recording sessions.

With your unique, yet definitive band name, do you think that Boris Yeltsin has got word there is an American band that pays tribute to him?

Phillip Dickey: I hope not...considering he died in 2007 and I don't believe in hell. But maybe his wife or grandkids know about us. I'd also like to know if Putin has ever heard of us. I think we should try to schedule a meeting with the Russian Embassy next time we're in DC and try to answer these questions.

What was it like trekking to Madison and recording in legendary Smart Studios? What was the space like and were you intimidated by the studio's history?

It was like a junior high dream come true. I read about Smart Studios in a Nirvana book when I was in 6th grade. Most studios look the same to me because they never have any windows. Smart was really no different. But I liked the vibe because there were a lot of Nirvana records on the wall. One of the guys from Garbage was always around, so that was weird and kind of cool.

Working with Chris Walla and Beau Sorenson must have been great. What were some of the ideas that they brought to the recording process that really enhanced the album?

I remember Chris and Beau saying they wanted to make each song have a personality and a thing of it's own, rather than just do the same thing to all of them. They wanted to take each one as far as we could in whatever direction they needed to go. It wasn't like Inception or anything. It was just six guys hanging out and trying to make a record in a very short amount of time. Chris had a deck of the Oblique Strategies cards by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. Those are fun to look at when you're at the end of your rope or when you're bored.

How did the experience of working with producers differ from your last album? Was the process smoother?

We love the process of self-recording, but we were pretty burned out. Working with producers made everything exciting again because you're always trying to impress them.The process was smoother and much faster. There was always forward movement. When were recording the last album we would sometimes spend a week on one drum track. Chris and Beau didn't let that happen. They were all about committing to new ideas and not over analyzing everything. We're really good at that.

What is the typical songwriting process for the band? Do you start with lyrics or music?

There are three songwriters in our band and every song comes to together differently. For instance, there are four demos of "Sink/Let It Sway" that sound nothing like the final version. I tried lyrics and a melody for it and completely failed. Then Will tried and it didn't work. Then John took one more stab at in the studio and it came together on the last day of recording in Portland. "In Pairs" was mostly written in the studio. "Animalkind" and "Stuart" have been around for years in different forms, so finally decided to finish them for this album. Other songs, like "Back in The Saddle" "Critical Drain" and "All Hail Dracula" came together when we were practicing together. Sometimes I think, 'If we didn't practice today, we wouldn't have that song.' So basically, we probably missed out on hundreds of songs.

Being that this is your third album, in what ways have you seen your songwriting evolve since you guys first started?

I was still high school when we started. Now I'm 27 and everything in my life has changed. Maybe that answers the question? I don't know. The biggest thing for me has always been the melody, so that hasn't changed too much. When I think about the earliest Yeltsin songs, either one or two things happens. One; I'm kind of impressed and scared that a new song I'm working on isn't as good. Or 2; I'm really embarrassed and I realize that the old song wasn't as good as I once thought it was. I'm sure there has been some evolution, but I'm just concerned about trying to write better songs that can somehow stand the test of time.

What was it like staying at Sorenson's house during the recording of the album? You guys must have some funny stories about staying with both producers?

It was like spending the night at your friends house for 3 weeks. I can't think of anything really funny. We accidentally broke some of their dishes and flower pots, so they were probably relieved when we went home.

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