The longtime project of synth pop aficionado Erik Carlson, DoublePlusGood are set to release their third album—You Can Master Life—on September 16 on Carlson's own SoHiTek record label before celebrating at Mississippi Studios two nights later. With a new cast of characters supporting, the latest incarnation of DPG sees Carlson step out from behind his keyboards to wield a bass guitar while supplying vocals as guitarist Jared Anderson and synth player Jason Andersen back him up.
Although You Can Master Life features some fresh faces, Carlson says "the heart of DoublePlusGood has always been pop music, so in that regard, the writing hasn't changed a lot. The production, though, has really leaned into a sort of new wave aesthetic. And the addition of live bass and guitar has really changed the sound."
Working with Jeff Bond (The Dandy Warhols, Aan, Charts, Talkative) at The Odditorium, "it's the first time we did any sort of preproduction for a record," Carlson explains. "He had a lot of insight into the writing and helped to focus a lot of our ideas. My favorite albums always have a cohesion to them, and he really helped us to iron everything out into a cool, consistent record!"
Pop, new wave, indie rock
"We've been playing in and around the Pacific Northwest for about 10 years, and have opened for Black Moth Super Rainbow, Ariel Pink, Wild Ones and Typhoon. Erik has run a record label that has been home to records by Hosannas, Pegasus Dream, Chrome Wings, Fanno Creek and Pocketknife."
"Lately I've been into that new band Beverly, the side project of Frankie Rose [formerly of Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls] and Drew Citron [formerly of Avan Lava]. The record has this really fun, dayglow grunge feel to it. Jason turned me onto the Dum Dum Girls and I can't stop listening to their EP End of Daze. There's also this side project from The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees called The Glove. They only put out one record, but I'm obsessed with this song called 'Like An Animal' on it. It's got this feral energy to it and I just love it!"
INSPIRATIONAL AND INFLUENTIAL:
"Going into this record, I was really into the Chromatics' 'Kill For Love.' That song is just perfect. I love how the pre-chorus builds up and so simply slips into the chorus, and how simply but effectively all the production works together. They are a total inspiration in terms of producers—nothing being MIDI sequenced and everything having so much swagger to it. I really like how that band has such a sound—even among all of Johnny Jewel's other acts, Chromatics still stand out from the rest of them."
EARLY MUSICAL MEMORY:
"I think the first time I heard Björk will always be a very defining moment for me. Even though I have nothing in common with her music, it did send me down a road of more offbeat music. I remember listening to the Homogenic album over and over again trying to make out what the sounds were. Later, I found out that she had used field recordings of volcanoes for some of the beats and my obsession with electronics in music began."
JUST CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT:
"The Smith's 'William, It Was Really Nothing': I can listen to that song over and over. It's got so much musical variety: It's kind of funny and sassy, and also so melodramatic. It's got everything."
"I'm mostly musical guilty pleasures—anything Top 40 I know all the lyrics to. But one that actually counts as an influence is A-ha. I actually think that band is kind of genius. It's all bombast and high notes and shiny synths. Some of their deep cuts too, not just 'Take On Me,' are crazy good. Embarrassing but true!"
God, too many to count. I've been a fan of Wild Ones forever. Newer stuff I've been into is this guy Daniel Rafn—I like his production style. I saw him at an Arthur Russell tribute recently and was really impressed. Our friend Lane also has this amazing project called The Ocean Floor that is brilliant. He's gone through a couple different incarnations, but most recently it's this beautiful, all-analog storytelling style of music that's just incredible.
DOWNLOAD DOUBLEPLUSGOOD: "Never The Same"
"This track was one of the ones we finished towards the end of recording. We all love this one 'cause it showcases each contribution from the band members—really cool synth and guitar tones. We all really love these sort of saturated, aquatic tones that give the song this really washy tone that I think reflects the lyrics. The songs is about being in love with someone who is restless and flighty, and rather than meeting them halfway, I become more stubborn. It's kind of a funny sentiment: 'He's never the same to me / so I dig my heels in the ground.' I'm a total Taurus in respects to being a creature of habit and caution, but I often find myself attracted to people who are more adventurous than me."