Zimmerman had just crossed the state line into Montana and pulled off for bathroom break when we phoned. "We played Fargo last night," he said, and when we questions how it went he was upbeat. "It was actually really fun. I mean, who knows what you're going to get playing Fargo on a Monday, but it was a good time."
The band's record sounds like a good time, with its ambling passages (the country-tinged "Only Way Out") and barn-stormers ("Livin' Free" and "Don't Hustle For Love") evoking the power of Crazy Horse. Zimmerman's voice occasionally feels like a rustic Billy Corgan, and the band's swirling guitars and stomping drums balance a certain amount of alt-rock heft with deep Texan blues and altered-mind rock.
Up on the Sun: I really liked Voyagers of Legend, but Dub Egg feels more opened up. More expansive. What influenced that shift? Hans Zimmerman: I mean, recording in the wilderness had a lot to do with it. The songs weren't completely written, we just had kind of outlines and some lyrics and a few changes here and there. Being out there really let us focus on arranging and finishing stuff up. But also, we've been playing together longer, and we've gotten tighter at playing with each other. It helped a lot.
Were you guys improvising with these songs, as you fleshed them out? I would say there's less improvisation than Voyagers of Legend. Those were like, open-ended jams that got worked into completed songs in the overdub process. We would just set up somewhere and start playing a riff, and just go. That's why a lot of those songs just sort of fade in and fade out. I took a passage of the jam-thing that was the most useable and crafted a song out of it.
I don't know that I'd use the term laid back to describe the new record, but it feels like there was a lot of looseness; it feels like a very natural record. Yeah, thank you. To tell you the truth, [the openness] of the record has a lot to do with the environment we made it in. It was kind of isolated, just us hanging out. We were feeling pretty loose, and just getting comfortable with the music.
When you're making a record that way, how structured were things? Did you have to focus in sometimes and say, "Okay, now we've got to get something done," or was it all just mellow, "We'll do it when we do it?" It was a little of both. Obviously we were there to work and get stuff done, but if things were moving along and something felt funky we were like, "Okay, one more, and if it doesn't work we'll go outside and throw horseshoes." There was little creek nearby, so we'd go fishing, things like that, you know?
That's the kind of freedom it's hard to get when you're in a commercial studio, just staring at the clock. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. We wanted to keep it in our hands and see what happened with it.