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Artist to Artist Interviews
Demon Lung Vs. Ancestors

I know that you guys have written in a lot of different ways (sole writers vs collaborative vs in the studio), but what is your preferred method?

I think that the most fun we ever had writing was when we wrote/recorded Invisible Whitealmost entirely in the studio. It really gave us a chance to try things we might not have otherwise tried. Unfortunately, who knows if we’ll ever have the budget to pull that off again, so the next best is definitely writing as a group in the rehearsal space. It’s what we’ve done for all but our first record and Invisible White.

How much of your material is written with a conceptual idea in mind first? Do you just let the music go wherever it wants, or are you aiming for something specific when you start?

We usually write first and then attack the concept (if there is one) a bit later. The stuff we’re working on now is actually the first time we’ve even really discussed a direction. We usually just write and let the music come out however it’s going to come out. This time around we’re hoping to shape it a little bit. We never want our music to become stale.

When you’re writing for a concept, are you tailoring the music to fit a certain subject/mood based on what the song is about?

I don’t think we’ve done that yet. It’s usually the other way around. We tailor the lyrics and/or concept to fit the music. Our music often feels to us like it tells a story without lyrics, so we sometimes try to figure out what that story is.



Are there any roles for certain members when it comes to song construction? Like “this person is the primary arranger,” “this one does the bulk of the lyrics,” etc?

I would say that at this point Jason (organ, piano, vocals, etc) writes the vast majority of the lyrics. They usually go through the grinder of the whole band and often come out different on the other end, but he definitely brings in most of them. Jason and I (Justin — guitar & vocals) usually bring in the initial musical ideas, which the rest of the band proceeds to build on. Strangely, we often write songs backwards, so someone will bring in an idea and we’ll build the song off that idea, but that idea ends up being the end of the song. That being said, a chunk of our music is still written by jamming at the start of practice and letting the jam take shape. We get a lot of great ideas from improvisation and impromptu jams. A number of songs from our records have started that way. In the end, everyone plays an important role in the shape of our music.

What bands would you call your musical peers at this point?

That’s a good question. We would love to know the answer. We haven’t been playing many shows lately and we actually feel a bit out of the loop. We’re looking forward to playing more shows and meeting new bands. It seems like all of the bands we used to play with are gone or on an indefinite hiatus, so we are eager to meet some new ones.

Do you ever see Ancestors becoming your primary jobs? Is there a “magic number” of [x] amount of shows a year totalling [y] amount of money that you have thought about in order to make that happen?

That would be incredible, but I don’t think that any of us ever see that happening. The way our music unfolds really requires our songs to be rather lengthy, and I don’t see that ever getting us much mass appeal. We’ve found that our music appeals to a lot of people we would never have expected, but I think that the kind of mainstream appeal we would need to make Ancestors our primary jobs will probably always elude us.


When demoing new ideas, what do you use? Do you go full-out with a DAW like Pro Tools or more simple and old-school with a 4-track or dictaphone, etc.

Honestly, we use whatever is handy. Often ideas are quickly recorded on cell phones (I’ll even sing ideas into my phone while I’m driving or in the middle of the night or in the middle of taking a shower). We demoed most of Of Sound Mind in a studio several months before the real thing. The fragments of Invisible White that were written prior to entering the studio were recorded with the internal mic on a laptop directly into GarageBand. We demoed In Dreams and Time by putting a few mics in the room and recording it in GarageBand. Right now we’re working on a song for a split 7” that we’re writing and recording in Logic and we haven’t even played it as a band yet. And now that Daniel (drums) is in the band, he has a handheld digital recorder that sounds awesome (I think it’s a Tascam DR-40) and we’ve been demoing the stuff for the next LP with that. So we’ve really used just about everything except the old school blue Tascam 4-track. I’d like to think that my days with that thing are long gone.

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