The Core: STS9
Photo by Paul Addotta
David Murphy on STS9’s new studio album, his move to Colorado and the importance of instrumental music
We waited three and a half years after Artifact to release 2008’s Peaceblaster and then released [2009’s] Ad Explorata not even a year and a half after Peaceblaster. Some of these ideas began during the Peaceblaster recording sessions, and we started working on Ad Explorata in April and May of 2009. We just worked on it nonstop—even while we were on tour—and mastered it when we got off the road in November. So this album happened fairly quickly by our standards. The band is all on the same page and when everyone’s clicking and sharing that similar vision, it’s easier to move things along. Plus, we don’t go out on the road as much, which frees up a lot of time to get into the studio and create.
Our Own Clock
The recording approach to Ad Explorata was similar to Peaceblaster. We own and work out of our own studio, so we have all of our gear at our disposal and we can work on our own clock. It’s been a real benefit to be able to develop a formula for how we write music in the studio, so Ad Explorata was definitely a progression from where we left off on Peaceblaster. The beauty of being an instrumental band is that we have the ability to cut between writing prettier songs like we did in ‘03 or ‘04 and more dance or rock-oriented songs without pigeonholing ourselves in a certain genre of music. It’s all instrumental music. We feel a real freedom there, and I think that’s why we started out instrumental and always stuck to it through the long haul. We could write a country song and it would fit into the set somewhere if we wanted it to.
Big Band Effect
Instrumental music isn’t as popular as it once was a few decades ago, and, the older we get, the more we realize that our position in music is to keep instrumental pop music alive. Whenever we tell people we’re an instrumental band, they talk about us like we play dance music—but we don’t play European club music. Over time we have seen more of a resemblance between our music and [jazz] big band music if anything, but that is a hard thing to convey to mass culture and to media, especially. We don’t really fit in any realm or category, and that’s to our benefit a lot, but at the same time it has its downfalls.
In terms of our musical tastes and styles, everyone’s getting into their own things or has new things they’re enjoying. We’re all best friends still—we definitely haven’t grown apart—but people are in different situations: some people are married with kids, and others of us aren’t, so we’ve all created different lifestyles for ourselves. As far as the band and the music we’re creating, a lot of ideas still come from the experiences we are having together out there on the road—or we’ll take something from our personal life and bring those inspirations back into the band and share those experiences.
Rocky Mountain High
It’s been neat living out in Colorado—mainly because there is such a support for all genres of live music. The people here go see live music and there’s a business here that supports it, so groups that have only been a [around] for barely a year or two like Big Gigantic or Pretty Lights are having tremendous success right now. I feel like the West Coast has died musically since [the members of STS9] moved to the North Bay in ‘99. Bands like Chromeo can still draw well, but the scene is changing. It’s really neat to see places like Denver/Boulder, Milwaukee, St. Louis—all these second big cities—helping our scene progress and grow.
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