Words by David C. Obenour
Time has a funny way of tricking your memory when playing the game of, “this reminds me of…” For weeks it stuck in my head as a mystery while more obvious touching points came and went – The Strokes, The Cars, Pavement – sure. But there’s another… and it wasn’t until listening to a single riff for the 29th time that it clicked. The sophomore album from The Tyde! A triumphant revelation, vocalized alone in the car, quickly turned moot upon realizing it was actually just one part of one song… and nothing more than that.
But good rock and roll is like that. It’s unknowingly and without out purpose built one familiar part at a time. A string of good feelings riding out the crest of a nonsensical shout-along choruses and fist pumping guitar parts. It’s a universal language -and Kiwi Jr are more than proficient.
Off Shelf: The new album has been released by Sub Pop, can you talk about how that relationship began? Did you have any personal history with the label?
Jeremy Gaudet: They heard Football Money and liked it enough to reach out to us. It was pretty surreal to get an email out of the blue from them, but yeah, it’s been so great to work with them.
OS: I’m always kind of intrigued by album’s with title tracks. What prompted picking Cooler Returns as the album name? Do you think it sounds like a nice culmination of where you’re at for the album? Was it just a name that stuck with you?
JG: We had the song “Cooler Returns” first, and just thought it was a cool title. The two words together sounded interesting and unique enough to us that we picked it for the album. Somebody recently thought it was a Dragon Ball Z thing? Which none of us know anything about, so I can confirm that it isn’t. There were few other titles we considered, but none of them stuck around long.
OS: There’s a really great flow to the songs throughout – can you talk at all about the sequencing process for Cooler Returns?
Brian Murphy: We knew we wanted to have “Tyler” as track one. I think it was even written with that in mind. We also knew “Undecided Voters” was going to be a single so we figured it should be on side A. To me, “Waiting in Line” is a great last song to end a record. Thankfully, the other guys agreed. A lot of mundane things get considered when sequencing, too. You don’t want four songs in a row all in A major, or 120BPM for example. Unless you’re The Jesus and Mary Chain, I guess.
OS: Sophomore albums can be a tricky proposition, is it a double down on the sound of your debut or do you venture out to new territory. Did you think at all about Cooler Returns as your second impression for people to base their opinions off of?
JG: We didn’t want to abandon the sound of our first album because people liked it. We even referenced the sound of it when mixing this one. Naturally, we knew it would end up sounding a little different with the instrumentation being different. Also though, I think bands should be given enough slack to make two albums with sorta similar sounds before you feel the need to switch it up. Our first album was only like 26 minutes long or something, so I thought we could get away with a bit more of it.
OS: There seems to be a lot of acoustic-y jangliness on the new album. What prompted that move from Football Money?
JG: I think the music that Brian and I were listening to while we recorded the guitars, played a part. In particular, lot’s of 70s singer-songwriter stuff: Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot, people like that. Also, I read that the Rolling Stones’ “Street Fighting’ Man” was all acoustic guitars, and that was something we wanted to try out – a mostly acoustic approach.
OS: There also seems to be some wider instrumentation, harmonica and more piano, almost folky feeling at points. Listening back to the album, what appeals to you about broadening your sound this way?
JG: I get embarrassed about being really loud and feedback-heavy. That seems like somebody else’s game to me now. I don’t have the energy to have more than like three guitar pedals on the go anymore. So in the studio, instead of a noisey guitar solo, we just decided let’s try keys or harmonica instead, and see if it works.
OS: There’s always a bit of a mental space from creation to realization, but I have to imagine that the world is a different place than it was when you wrote and recorded Cooler Returns. Has that affected how you hear these songs?
BM: When I hear them, I mostly think about how much fun it was to finally get to play and record music with the other guys after a long lockdown. It was a great way to not look at the news, and just be in a studio or rehearsal room all day working on the songs, going for walks and not doom-scrolling at home.
OS: How does not having been able to perform them live affected your relationship to hearing them now?
BM: There’s a few songs we’ve gotten the chance to play live – “Undecided Voters”, “Guilty Party”, “Domino” and a few others. I find myself wondering how we’re going to pull off some of the other, newer songs live. We may need some help.
OS: Thinking of a day getting in the van, getting to the next city, from load in to load out, is there a part of touring you find yourself particularly missing?
BM: I definitely miss the people. When we played a handful of shows in the UK in January we met a lot of great locals, had a lot of laughs and several heated games of billiards and foosball. That, and obviously getting to play music with your friends. Van loading and driving all day… not so much!