Maurice and the Stiff Sisters have taken “a record, release, play shows” approach to their music making since last November. This has allowed the power pop five-piece to drop a song every month or so while also playing accompanying release shows around town.
“You can now listen to seven Maurice and the Stiff Sisters songs online and we couldn’t be more proud of how they turned out,” frontman Maurice Spencer says. “It’s been a real joy recording with Victor Nash at Destination: Universe! and there will be more music on the way soon.”
Well now, how about some instant gratification? Thanks to the Our City, Our Sounds: A #PDXmusic Song A Month series, Vortex was excited to offer the band some free studio with Gene Forte at Blue Heron Studio to knock out a track that’s long needed to be properly documented.
“‘Heart Beats Faster’ has been in the Maurice and the Stiff Sisters repertoire pretty much from the get-go. It was one of the songs that made me want to put together a band that featured a horn section,” Spencer tells. “It reminded me of early Elvis Costello & The Attractions, and that was kind of a huge jumping off point for the general aesthetic of the group.
“Thematically, it’s a song about reserving judgement. I love people watching; sometimes I make up backstories about them—what brought them to this moment, what motivates them, what are they going to do next? It’s usually just a fun mental exercise, something to do when you’re bored, but it got me to thinking about relationships and how we perceive others... when I would see friends and acquaintances and wonder about the hows and whys of their being together... I think it’s really easy to pass judgement on someone without knowing the first thing about them, and there’s a problem there that needs to be addressed. As long as you’re not harming anyone else, you should be left alone to pursue your own desires and devices to their own ends—for better or worse, amen.”
As for the process of creating the song, “Heart Beats Faster” “is just another example of me coming to present the group with the lyrics, melodies and arrangements mostly in order, only for the band to take and expand on those ideas and make the song really come to life,” Spencer says. “It can be a bit like a game of telephone where you start with one idea, and in passing it to the next person the idea warps into something new... to outlandish consequences!”
While the ultimate manifestation of all these songs is still uncertain, the band is still “full steam ahead on the project,” Spencer says. “If and when these songs find a home on a physical release depends on how people continue to resonate and respond to what we’re doing. I am optimistic that a proper vinyl record is in store.”
Next up, the guys will rock, in Spencer's words, the “adventurous venue/bar/record store” Turn! Turn! Turn! with Brother Not Brother on Thursday, May 16, but they’re especially excited to get “out in public during daytime hours,” Spencer says. “There are some street fairs, festivals and events in the works for this summer, one of which is kicking out jams before the Portland Pickles game on Friday, July 5 at Lents Park”—a gig we’re proud to say that we helped curate! “That’s American tradition right there: The barbecue heat of summer, your local baseball team, and five weirdos singing songs about love, excess and metaphysical journeys into the dreamworld. Bring the kids!”