ABOVE: SOLID GOLD. IMAGE COURTESY OF JOHN CARLUCCI
Between the Mississippi River and the 20-odd lakes surrounding city limits, Minneapolis is lapped by waves on all sides. Given the surplus of musical talent making its way out of the Twin Cities, Solid Gold is the latest band to prove that, apparently, there’s something in the water.
Solid Gold—a.k.a. Zach Coulter, Adam Hurlbut and Matt Locher—moved from Madison, WI to Minneapolis before recording its first full-length album, 2008’s Bodies of Water. Though they formed in 2002, Solid Gold counts Bodies of Water and Eat Your Young, out today, as the only LPs to its name. “We trashed two records that were almost finished because they just didn’t work out,” says Coulter. Laughs Hurlbut, “We were recording when we celebrated our 10th anniversary as a band, and it made us feel really old and bad—like, we should really get this record done! Two records in 10 years, that’s kind of a slow work ethic.”
Thankfully, Eat Your Young wasn’t another shelved pursuit, and the years between Bodies of Water and Eat Your Young were spent in good company: tracks off the record were recorded at April Base, Justin Vernon‘s woodland retreat of a studio where he recorded For Emma, Forever Ago, and the album’s out on Totally Gross National Product, the Minneapolis-based label run by Ryan Olson of Gayngs. Below, Solid Gold gets into it about creative process and why Eat Your Young is their most hands-on pursuit yet.
HILARY HUGHES: Since Bodies of Water dropped in the fall of 2008, you’ve been touring extensively and putting out singles and EPs here and there. What’s the most drastic change between the Solid Gold of four years ago and the band you are today?
ADAM HURLBUT: I think we’re older and more mature, and the record sounds a lot different. I’m sure people can tell that the band that made this record is the same band that made Bodies of Water. For us, I don’t think we went out to try to make any certain sound or make it that much different than the last album, but the maturity level shows.
HUGHES: How does Eat Your Young differ from your other releases as a production?
ZACH COULTER: I guess that we took on the role of the producer ourselves with this one. We were extremely happy to be working with Brian Wolcott on the last two records, but we just wanted a change to stay creative and do something different.
MATT LOCHER: It worked out great. We did a lot of the recording on our own before we started with our engineer. Most of the heavy lifting in terms of production was done before we went into the studio, so once we were there, we were kind of experimenting and trying to nail the parts and stuff.
HURLBUT: We haven’t really changed our sound that much in 10 years. There have always been keyboards; there’s always been a drum machine. Thematically, we’re very similar.
HUGHES: What surprised you the most about Eat Your Young? Did any songs catch you off guard once you heard the playback?
COULTER: There were a couple of songs that we wrote at the beginning, songs that we thought would be the flagship songs of the album, that they didn’t necessarily fit once the record was coming to a close. It’s not that we didn’t like them; we wrote the record as a whole, not for certain songs. Even if we like a song, if the vibe isn’t what we were going for, we won’t put it on [the album]. That was surprising for us, that those songs weren’t right for this record.
HUGHES: What was the biggest challenge you set before yourselves with Eat Your Young?
COULTER: Probably just the timeline of it. It took us a long time to do it. I think the challenge was to move not too fast with it—we reached a point where we thought we were done, but the album needed another six months to mature.
HURLBUT: Quality control is also another big thing for us. We never really want to rush something out. We have to make sure we’re happy with it, and sometimes that can add time to the project.
HUGHES: Do you have a favorite moment on the record?
HURLBUT: I think there are a couple of songs on Eat Your Young that are really old. We reworked “Sold God” a couple of times but we never quite got the proper vibe with it, and for this album, we finally got it. To have a song sit in the back of your mind for seven or eight years and then to finally be happy with the recording, it’s a pretty satisfying feeling. One of our favorite tracks on the record, “Pendulum,” we wrote way, way after everything on Eat Your Young was already tracked. It was the last song that we recorded for the album and it came together really quickly. Whether it’s a song that’s eight years old or a song that’s a week old, there cool things about both of them.
HUGHES: Between Bon Iver, Gayngs, Poliça, Field Report and the other bands of the region raking in the accolades for their efforts, Minneapolis and the cities around it are garnering a bit of a sterling reputation in indie music. Do you feel pressure to do the Minneapolis music scene justice when you’re putting yourself and your music out there?
COULTER: Not really. Although we work together on a lot of projects and hang out together, it’s not really a pressure to sound any particular way. It’s more just about doing what feels good and being proud of the other people. There may be friendly competition, but that’s about it; it’s not necessarily a, “This doesn’t sound like Minneapolis!” thing at all.
LOCHER: If anything, there’s pressure to sound the way you sound. You have guys like Ryan Olson, who hand-picks the people he works with because they sound how they sound. Our friends all want to hear a Solid Gold record because they want to hear what we’re doing and what we have to say musically. It’s a heavy scene of encouragement to be who you are, which is pretty cool and really adds to the diversity of sound in the area.
HUGHES: When it comes to touring behind Eat Your Young, what are your expectations for taking this album out on the road?
COULTER: We’ve filled out our lineup for the live show with Jeremy Hanson of Tapes ‘n Tapes and his brother, Jake, has played with a lot of different folks. They’re extremely talented. We’ll have them to back the new songs and sound of this record. The goal for touring behind this album is to play for as many people as many times as possible, really.
SOLID GOLD’S EAT YOUR YOUNG IS OUT TODAY. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, VISIT ITS WEBSITE.