Here’s the second part of our band interview roundtable, where all four of us picked our favorite performances by each other player in the band. —Keir

BRYN: Well, Brian just absolutely crushed his part of “Dead Man.” I mean, really the rest of us are there to back him up on that one. That one was fun to see recorded too, since the amps were all on one side of the big, open recording room and the mics were all on the other side. The volume was so loud that even walking into the room was scary—the ambient hiss of the amps cranked up so high, with the potential to just ruin your hearing, was intimidating. But that space and volume definitely come across in the recording. Keir’s bass on “Sweet Oblivion” is perfect for the song. It just kind of rolls back and forth like a ship in light wind. I think it’s one of his simplest but most creative bass lines. I’ve always liked the way that Bill holds everything else together on “Mercy Rule.” It’s a steady but swaggering rhythm and it really provides the framework all the other stuff on the song hangs around. For my parts, I think I’m most happy with my vocals on “Island Fever.” And I can’t even take credit for it. I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but Jon and Keir suggested a different, more mellow approach to the chorus that built over the course of the song (and which, in retrospect, was way better than my own idea). By the time we recorded the last chorus I was pretty pissed about it and basically bellowed the part into the mic. I think how I felt—“I’ma prove these bastards I’m right!”—made it a more intense vocal than it otherwise would have been. (Even though I was, in fact, wrong.)

BRIAN: Bryn’s vocals on Keep Moving are my favorite of his; I love the contrast between the sad, subdued verses and the super-powerful chorus. For both Bryn and I, the guitars on Blacking Out are both great and work really well together. For Keir, I love his bass groove on Blacking Out, and his backing vocals on Island Fever help make the chorus sound pretty epic. It’s hard to pick a favorite track for Bill because he’s so damn rock-solid, but if I had to choose I’d go with Keep Moving, because 6/8. I actually sampled a practice version of his drum beat for a later song by The Neuro Farm (Underground). I also really like the sweet fills and syncopation in Mercy Rule. Oh, and the chorus of Polarity. I love what he did with those simple chords I played.

keir_takeroot

BILL: Keir- Mercy Rule. I always liked the way he swung the bass line on that track and I remember him grooving out and feeling like he looked SO locked in I was just trying to follow along. Bryn- Keep Moving. I love the finger picking guitar part in that song. It really resonates with me for some reason and I remember wanting it to be more in the forefront all the time. The lyrics also lend themselves beautifully to his heavy vibrato and the melody has a melancholy feel that I think exemplifies what I was going through personally during that time. Brian- Island Fever. Brian has had SO many parts that have blown my mind, it’s really hard to pick one. If we are talking about just this album though the reverse delay effect solo he plays blows my mind. It’s so perfect for the piece and really brings the whole vibe together for me. Me- tough. I think Blacking Out is the most exemplary of the tracks as a unit, but for just a single part I really liked Sean Goes to Africa. It’s simple, fun, spontaneous and playful, and I feel like that comes across pretty well in my part.

KEIR: Having said all that about Brian’s “Dead Man” take, and also noting that I love the dueling Brian solos from “Mercy Rule,” I like his sound on “Sweet Oblivion” even better than either. It seems less intense but I think it’s actually more so. The second take we did was the longest—we got lost for a few bars but then came roaring back, led by Brian—and I love how Bryn waited just long enough after we finished before saying “Dude, Brian that was fucking awesome.” Because it really was. My favorite takes from Bill are probably “Mercy Rule” and “Oblivion.” They were a bit older than the other songs, so by that point we’d locked into the rhythm parts so comfortably that it was easy to explore a little and still come back to where we needed to be. The drum parts on these songs are almost the polar opposite of Bill’s heroic, commanding beatdown of “The Lightning Rod” from three years prior, and together that’s a great definition of his range as a player. I always say that Bill made me a better bassist and his work on these songs is much of the reason why—I learned that just because a space is there, it doesn’t need to be filled with a note. For Bryn I’ll second Bill’s opinion on the “Keep Moving” guitar part. After “Blacking Out” I think that’s the song that turned out the best from these sessions, and Bryn’s arpeggiated chiming tone is a big part of that. For vocals I’ll say the first verse of “Famous Last Words.” I know I can’t hold notes like that—let alone high notes like that—without getting really loud, but all that time Bryn spent singing along with Buckley and Yorke definitely paid off!