Monday, February 09, 2015

The Inquisition: 039.The Union Trade

1. How did you come up with the name of the band?

Well, we made a huge list, and then kept whittling it down as we were writing our first few songs. One of the tentative names was “The Tuesday Rumor” We for sure were not sold on it; I [Don] went to SXSW just as a fan in 2006. One drunken night at 2am I met a few guys from Band Of Horses and we were talking about bands names, “The Tuesday Rumor” was quickly called a pussy name, they recommended “The Gift” and we were all surprised that it was actually available. That name was added to the running. We later narrowed to The Union Trade. The name itself is actually from a song by Early Day Miners. The reason we settled on it was we felt it embodied the way we wanted to be as a band and how we wanted to make music. The Union Trade really is a collective effort. Everyone has roles, but there's no official band leader, no single songwriter.

2. Do you have a standard procedure of creating a song? Do you just jam around or is there a main riff and the track is build up on it?

For the most part our songs start as a guitar or keyboard idea. Whoever has it just starts playing and the rest of us work out our part. Sometimes the same person has a second part, and we work to connect them. Other times, we realize it fits with some other idea we've had sitting around for a while.We also start every practice by just jamming. As soon as a couple of us are in the band room, we pick up our instruments, usually with out saying much. There's no more magical moment in our band than being the last person to arrive and before you even open the door you hear some exciting new song in the works. You just walk in, pick up your instrument and join in. A few songs have come from ideas we came up with and latched onto during those jams at the beginning of practice.A very few songs have come in with the chord changes mostly done. But everything is put through our collective process and arranged in the band room. Parts and arrangements always evolve and everyone has input in the final product.Except for those few lightening strike moments, we have a pretty slow process that involves coming up with the initial arrangement, recording a one mic demo, listening, sitting on it and revising it over time until we're happy with it.

3. What are your influences and what kind of music do you hear when you are at home?

Influences vary quite a bit between band members, part of what makes our sound a little different from most bands in our genre. Overall the vision is to create musical landscapes that mean something to all of us.Our tastes are broad and these different influences, from shoegaze, and post punk, to early Emo, grunge and indie rock all play their part in making what we hope is our own unique take on instrumental post rock. But we've really all come together over a few instrumental post rock bands we admire and respect, in particular, Mogwai, Explosions In the Sky, This Will Destroy You and Caspian to name a few.

4. Which is the one album you can't live without?

Don: Neil Young “Desire”Nate- For a while now it's been The National's High Violet

5. What's the first record you've ever bought?

Don: It was a tape; NWA “Straight Outta Compton” My first actual record would have been Michael Jackson “Thriller”
Nate: Guns N Roses. Appetite For Destruction. On tape.

6. Name a band that you would like to share the stage or tour with?

Explosions In The Sky, Yann Tiersen

7. Did the Internet and specially the blogs helped to spread your music around the world? Name a place (country) that you were surprised to know your music has reached to?

Absolutely. Most surprising country, Estonia.

8. Do you support the idea of Bandcamp where fans can decide the price or services like Spotify?

This is one of the toughest questions in the industry today. We listen to Spotify and Pandora a lot. As a band, we really appreciate how much streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have helped us get exposure around the world. The royalties are minimal, as Thom Yorke has called attention to, but we appreciate the beer and pizza money I guess. It's also better than someone pirating our music.We're new to Bandcamp. As the founding band of Tricycle Records we went the indie label route before Bandcamp existed - we wanted to control songwriter and publishing rights. But we recently put our entire catalog up on Bandcamp because it is a great community, they let you set your price, and it's another great channel for music fans to discover new music. We use set prices on Bandcamp, I think for some bands letting fans name the price is great, but Bandcamp is just one outlet that we sell music and making vinyl is expensive. We are still waiting for people to pay more than our asking price. Bandcamp even jokes about it putting (your mom) every time they mention name your price in the band dashboard.

9. Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

Five years from now will have been 14 years since we founded The Union Trade. Crazy to even imagine that. But hopefully we'll be looking back at some amazing place that this album and our music enabled us to travel and play. Hopefully more new music. But I know that we'll be most happy that we got to spend time every week, playing and creating with each other. If that wasn't the best part about it, The Union Trade would have ended a long time ago.

10. Is the artwork of an album important nowadays in the digital era?

Yes. Absolutely. In addition to being the guitarist in The Union Trade, Don also happens to be an incredible visual designer and photographer. Physical music still sells, and we want that experience of holding our art in your hands to make an impact. Thanks to Don, every album by The Union Trade has done that. Even in digital formats, the artwork that goes along with the music can help convey a feeling or add meaning. That is the first album where we included a digital booklet with the iTunes download. There's always been an important connection between album art and music. There's something visceral in seeing an artists interpretation of an audio work. Even in the digital era.

11. What is you favorite album cover?

Don: That would be Yo La Tengo “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.” Gregory Crewdson’s photograph was used on the cover and he is my absolute favorite photographer. Conveying that much of a story and surreal, evocative emotion in 1/100th of a second.

Nate: Electric Ladyland - It was the first album I stole from my parent's collection.

12. It seems that a lot of people are turning on vinyl again. Why do you think that is and which is your preferable media format?

Listening to vinyl is an entirely different experience than digital music players, or even a CD. Vinyl is just so much more conducive to full album listening. It's just so easy to hit next on an iPhone. When I select a record, put it on the turntable and drop the needle, I'm going to listen until the flip. I even appreciate and enjoy the songs I might skip on a digital player more on vinyl.I would definitely say vinyl is my favorite format for The Union Trade music. Because we try to craft and album, not singles, and because we love creating album art for our music and vinyl is the classic visual format for album art.

13. What's the most vivid story or moment as a band?

Playing actually goes by so fast, and it’s almost out of body. So, the most vivid memories for me (Nate) are not when we're playing. For me the most vivid are walking around with the band at SXSW in Austin when we were just being music fans and friends in between our shows there.

The Union Trade released their new album "A Place of Long Years" on February 3rd 2015 on Tricycle Records. Personally I think it's a killer album and their best yet.

More info:

1 Engineers:

Nate said...

I had the U.S. release of Electric Ladyland, but I would have stolen the UK version too :)

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