After three records in five years on venerable indie labels Knitting Factory and Partisan Records, Ages and Ages are now an established touring act—and that includes an endorsement from Obama—yet they're taking a page out of the emerging band playbook.
Rather than working on the full-length follow-up to 2016's Something to Ruin, the Portland six-piece are shifting their focus to singles, with an intent to release a series of them in the coming months. First up, they get in touch with their sometimes overwhelming emotions via a bouncing, harmonious pop song called "How It Feels."
"We recorded most of the song with Sylvia Massy at her place in Ashland, Ore.," lead singer and songwriter Tim Perry tells. (FYI: Massy has worked on records by Tool, Prince, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and many more, often alongside Rick Rubin.) "It is an old church that she has filled with weird, semi-functional instruments, which we had a lot of fun with. In particular, there's an Optigan, which is an obscure organ from the '70s that plays cheesy sounds from these large, floppy optical disks. I had loaded one in upside down and the machine flipped out, giving us some of the tortured background noises that pop up throughout the track. I was really interested in the tension between the sweet vocal delivery and melodic hooks with these more jagged, mysterious elements.
"The day we finished 'How It Feels,' it was raining ashes in Portland from a fire in the Columbia River Gorge just outside of town," he continues. "The sun was blotted out with smoke and at night the moon was red. If you talked to anyone out here, they would have told you it felt like end times. While we were recording this song, Harvey hit Texas and Florida was waiting for Irma. Trump had blamed 'many sides' in Charlottesville and threatened 'fire and fury' against North Korea. It's hard to know what to do with all of this. And amidst what seems like an imploding world, we still have our needs. We still need love. We still need affection. We still need to feel heard. This is a song about what it's like to have these needs in what feels like end times. Our problems may be irrelevant in the scheme of things, but this doesn't make them feel any less real. If you're reading this, I hope you have someone to talk to and I hope you're able to tell them how it feels."