The gentle atmospheric hum of Small Sails has never sounded better than on their latest album, Similar Anniversaries. Using a wide array of both organic and electronic sounds, the band is deliberately subtle and wildly creative, with a live show that incorporates film projections alongside the band's performance. Guitarist/singer Ethan Rose takes a minute to talk about their music and how to silence those loud-talking jerks in the crowd.
MERCURY: Were there ever any plans to stay true to the live show and add a DVD along with Similar Anniversaries?
ROSE: We've talked a lot about doing a DVD release with the band, but we never really considered doing it for this album. We wanted to let the record stand on its own as a musical expression and keep it somewhat separate from what we do live. That said, we couldn't totally keep the film aspect out of our first full-length. Ryan [Jeffery] does such a great job with the films, and we wanted to make sure that was represented in some way. So, we did end up including an enhanced video on the disc.
Since you use "traditional" rock instruments in addition to electronics, is it ever difficult to avoid using everything and going overboard by adding too much to your songs?
I don't really think this is an issue for us, although I see how it could be if we were a different sort of band. We choose to edit ourselves in other ways, for instance, minimizing how much lyrical content there is, or using simpler melodic and harmonic ideas. It is tempting to keep stacking things up, but we try to do this in such a way that each part is clearly defined and in its right place.
As a quiet band who tours often, you must run into unruly crowds from time to time. Is there a method to defeating the jackass in the back of the venue who talks loudly over your set?
We have our methods for dealing with these people. In the past, Ryan has picked up his projector and pointed the light beam so that it illuminates the perpetrator, effectively blasting them with bright light for all to see. Usually these people are sort of not so cleverly drunk, and perhaps because of this, they generally shrink away in confusion, seeking solace in a dark corner of the venue. Even though we aim to make lovely sounds, it doesn't mean that we couldn't mess you up if we had to.
Smalls Sails perform at Holocene on Friday, March 9.