Alabama Shakes on Boys & Girls Follow-Up: "The Songs Coming Out Now, They're Different"
It is an interesting time for the Alabama Shakes.
Riding high on the success of a nearly universally lauded debut full-length album, Boys & Girls, the group has undoubtedly earned a rep as one of the most exciting bands dwelling within the increasingly overrun world of roots and Americana music.
For most bands saddled with the success of Grammy nods and massive critical praise, the pressure might be unbearable. However, for the Alabama Shakes, a sophomore release was simply business as usual.
The band recently finished tracking the follow-up to Boys & Girls and will be performing in Miami this week. We here at Crossfade spoke with drummer Steve Johnson about what we might expect from the group's new album, , and authenticity versus originality.
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Crossfade: The band just completed tracking a new album, right?
Steve Johnson: Yeah, we just got home like, just a few days ago!
How was the experience this time around?
It was different. It was a lot different from the other times that we've been in the studio. Certain parts of the recording process were a little different; it was a rewarding experience this time. I think we put in a lot of work in getting some good sounds and everybody was pleased in the end. I think it was a little over our heads when we were in there doing it. But at the end of the day, we had a good final product.
How was the process different exactly?
Well, we were working with a producer this time, and some of the songs we didn't have completely finished. Before, we would kind of have a good idea of what the song was going to be like whenever we were done with it. In this case, it wasn't like that with all the songs. Some of them we would kind of jumble around for hours.
It was grueling, and by the end of the day, you're mentally exhausted. Physical labor, I kind of enjoy more, because there's no thinking involved in it. You just get out there and move stuff around or whatever. But this, you're just thinking about everything and taking it apart until it's nothing, you know? So that's one of the differences.
Without giving away too much, can you tell us what we can expect from the new album?
Umm ... Space odyssey! [Laughs] Futuristic, uh, laser beams!
So it's safe to say that it's a bit of a departure from Boys & Girls, then?
A little bit. Tonally and sonically, I think it's better. We just have a better grasp on what we're doing in the studio now. And as far as the songs go, I think a lot of people want to expect a Boys & Girls, Vol. II almost, more digging into Southern soul or something like that, and the songs that are coming out now, they're different. I feel like we've progressed in growing as songwriters, and while they're different in that respect, it's still not unbelievable that it's the same band. It still sounds like Alabama Shakes, just experimenting with other sounds.