Interview: King Ropes Shares Inspirations and Motivations in Creating Fifth Studio Album Super Natural

Super Natural, King Ropes’ fifth album, is full of open spaces and jagged edges. At once, it is the band’s most ambitious and intimate work, expanding the parameters of King Ropes’ eclectic desert rock and ragged Americana sound. Like Montana, the band’s home, nothing is too refined. At the center of it all is singer and frontman Dave Hollier, a gifted songwriter at the top of his game, surveying a land haunted by doomed relationships and hypocrite ideologues in his odd, quivering voice…

Couples with Dave Hollier’s unique storytelling and a genre-bending psychosis that King Ropes has mastered, Super Natural conveys a world that is remarkably gorgeous but also transparently harsh and unforgiving.

Congratulations on the release of Super Natural. Being the band’s 5th album release, does it feel any different releasing this as opposed to your others?

Thanks! It feels great having this one out there in the world. This one does feel a little different. It’s as if we stripped away some of the peripheral stuff and just zeroed in on the core of what we’ve been working toward for a while. 

What was it like recording in the warehouse? Is this the first time you’ve recorded in somewhere other than a studio space?

We’ve recorded in a bunch of different types of places. The real difference with this one that Ben (Roth), who plays in the band, did the recording and mixing. He drove out from Seattle with his gear and we set up in our spot here in Bozeman. It’s in a warehouse building but it’s a super comfortable vibey spot to spend a lot of time. I put a little kitchen in, and some couches, and it backs up to some woods with a little creek. We blocked out ten days or so where none of us really had anything else to think about. So we could work out the songs at whatever pace felt right, and just organically transition back and forth between working out the arrangements, and recording. The intense focus that happens, that you need, when you’re recording is such a great part of the process, but it can be pretty intense and exhausting. So to have that intense focus in this super relaxed easygoing environment, with very little time pressure was pretty sweet.  

How did the pandemic affect the writing process for the band?

Well, you know, we got shut down just like everyone else.  We had quite a bit of touring lined up for 2020 but suddenly that wasn’t happening. I’m always working on new songs, but I have a hard time doing it in a vacuum. So once it became clear that this thing was really going to last a while, Jeff and I started getting together once a week or so. Ben lives in Seattle so we didn’t see him for a while. But Jeff and I would hang out, listen to stuff we’d come across, and start bouncing around song ideas I was having. It wasn’t very goal oriented, but after a few months it started to feel like we had an album’s worth of songs to record.  

What was the last song to be added to the album? The first?

I’m not sure I could tell you. I tend be working on several songs at once, bouncing back and forth between them. And there’s no telling when one will feel like it’s finished. I definitely don’t finish them in the order I start them, you know? I could be wrong about this, but I think that we probably added “Heart Shaped Garden” after the rest of the songs were written. That’s a song I wrote ten or fifteen years ago, and recorded on the first EP we recorded with my previous band, Home for Wayward Drummers. We gave it a pretty different feel in this recording, but the lyrics are the same. It just had some stuff about it that made it feel like it belonged with these other songs, and in a way helped tie them together. The photo on the album cover is of the heart shaped garden in the song. 

Who do you, as a band, take musical inspiration from?

Man, any place we can get it! 

What was the smoothest part of writing and recording this LP?

Actually the whole thing went pretty smoothly. We didn’t have any time pressure at all, because the whole world was pretty shut down, you know?  We’d put in long days and nights working on stuff, but we didn’t have to hurry up and get done. It felt luxurious having all that time!

You touch on topics that not many artists in this genre cover, such as animal reincarnation and metaphorical disabilities. What gave you the confidence as songwriters to do so?

That’s a good question! I’m not really sure what the answer is. I guess there’s some amount of control I have over what kind of songs I write, but not really that much. Ideas pop into my head all the time, and I’m interested in digging into the ones that seem more off the wall, or weird I guess. I mean, I’m writing about stuff that means something to me, that interests me, and just being true to myself or whatever. Does that make sense?

What message do you want to leave with your listeners?

Hmm. Be true to yourself. Try to figure out how to make a life that matters to you rather than trying to make a life that “they”, (whoever “they” are), tell you that you should. Try to be kind to yourself. Try to be kind to other people. Try hard. Laugh it off. Get up and try again. Keep a sense of humor.
Damn. Sounding like a freakin self help manual. I guess I’m done here……

Super Natural, the new album by King Ropes, is out now via Big and Just Little. Pre-order your vinyl copies on the band’s Bandcamp.

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