Spencer Krug keeps busy. In the past few years, he's split his time juggling duties in no less than four bands. He's responsible for the half of Wolf Parade's songs that do not resemble Bruce Springsteen's. He occasionally contributes keyboards to Frog Eyes' visceral live shows and albums. Last year, he collaborated with Frog Eyes' Carey Mercer and Destroyer's Dan Bejar for Swan Lake, a bizarre collision of voices originally conceived under the humble moniker "Modern Songwriters." And then there's Sunset Rubdown, the catchall for Krug's own recording and the most unfiltered version of his music. After a home-recorded debut and EP, Sunset Rubdown evolved into a four-piece, releasing the amazing Shut Up, I Am Dreaming last year. Teeming with circuitous arrangements and glam rock's pomp and stomp, Shut Up showed Sunset Rubdown's transition into a full band, taking the lo-fi production values of its previous output into a new stratosphere of majestic, Technicolor pop.
With a new, as-yet-untitled album in the can and plans to release another EP this summer in the works, Sunset Rubdown is heading out on tour with Xiu Xiu. Recently, the band contributed its version of "Apistat Commander" to the Xiu Xiu: Remixed and Covered compilation. Full of marimba, whip-crack snare, and snippets of synth that bubble up and disappear, it was the highlight of the collection. Before heading out on tour, I talked to Krug about Xiu Xiu, and whether fans can expect a set-closing jam session.
Do you think there are many similarities between the music Sunset Rubdown and Xiu Xiu are making?
Maybe, but mostly in broad, conceptual ways. I'd say that both bands like to play around in that foggy area that lies between sincerity and melodrama, sometimes taking it all the way to drama. That said, I think that Sunset Rubdown is more melodramatic than Xiu Xiu, for better or for worse, and, musically, I think they are pushing the envelope more than we are.
Xiu Xiu's music can be incredibly difficult, even scary. I'm curious to know what draws you to it.
The things I mentioned: A mangling of pop sentiments and aesthetics, and an incredibly effective use of space within the music. They use silence well, and often, which I think is very difficult and something that most bands can't manage. Definitely not any band that I've been a part of.
Both you and Jamie Stewart [of Xiu Xiu] have done a lot of collaborating. Is there any chance you guys will make some music together? Or can we expect any joint encore versions of "Apistat Commander"?
You can probably expect neither of those things. I don't actually know Jamie or any member of Xiu Xiu, and the idea of playing on one another's stage also seems unlikely. I'm sure some fans would like it, but I don't think [Xiu Xiu] want us up there screwing around on their work.