Hear that sound? Well, that was likely the sound of your inner voice reading that line in your head, but it’s also the name of the latest single from Altered By Mom. An amazing alternative rock escape by way of Gina Kennedy and Devon Lougheed. The latter talked to us not only about the single you’re most definitely checking out right now, but also crying alongside his speakers, the beauty our old MP3s hold, and their new album that’ll be out before the year’s up!
Kendra: With Body Feels Weird being your introduction to the world, how did you go about approaching the followup, Trapped in an MP3? Did you approach writing and recording any differently this time around?
Devon Lougheed: Since the first record, we’ve reconfigured as a duo and I couldn’t be more inspired! Body Feels Weird was a solo record written as an excuse for me to work with some of my favourite musicians, and our new tunes are all about collaboration and back-and-forth with Gina (vocals and bass). We’re also taking a much more multi-instrumental approach to the songs. Whereas at the beginning the notion was a sort of tribute to the best parts of the 90’s grunge sound, we’ve opened up to a world of whatever sounds are at our disposal. We’re less concerned with “how will we play this live” at the recording stage, which has been very freeing.
Kendra: Three years doesn’t seem like a long time but a lot can happen in over 1,000 days. Were there any moments in your own lives that took Trapped in an MP3 in a direction that wasn’t necessarily part of the plan at first?
Devon Lougheed: We unexpectedly moved three times in those 1,000 days – from Toronto to Montreal, Montreal to Halifax, and Halifax back to Toronto. It feels like we learned ten years of life lessons in those three years, but they were also very artistically-inspiring times. Now that I think about it, I moved to Toronto from Vancouver right after finishing Body Feels Weird, so I guess the big moves shouldn’t have come as a surprise. We’ve always been a band on the run, but now we’ve made Toronto our home base for good.
Kendra: Your single, “Hear That Sound,” is about making someone cry but we want to know what is a song that without a doubt always has the ability to make you tear up?
Devon Lougheed: “Poke” by Frightened Rabbit never fails…nobody does pain and heartbreak like the Scots, and this tune is no exception. It’s a truly timeless breakup song made even sadder by singer Scott Hutchinson’s passing. I’m a sucker for a sad moment and this one seems so genuine through and through. A very close runner-up is “Midnight” by our pal Skye Wallace. It’s a happier song than “Poke” because it’s about overcoming an overwhelming sadness. Gina and I play in her band as well as ABM, and I’ve had to blink away tears on multiple occasions doing this one.
Kendra: More about “Hear That Sound.” I liked the lyric about people asking questions but not wanting truthful answers. That’s probably one of the most annoying things about human interaction. Do you think it’s because we like to just hear what we want, or our need to be coddled?
Devon Lougheed: In a way, I think it is about not even caring what the answer is at all – in the song, we wanted to tie that image to the questions a couple might ask in a fight, questions that are more about proving a point or causing hurt than requesting information or clarification. It is easy to blame technology for the trend in communication becoming more one-sided, self-interested, less-genuine, so it could also be a nod to the type of questions that perpetuate across social media.
Kendra: We’re about to hear “Hear That Sound” and more on Trapped in an MP3 which is out later this year. It’s crazy to think the idea of an MP3 is now sort of vintage with streaming haven taken over. Is that what this album is about? Vintage nostalgia in some ways?
Devon Lougheed: Ha! I like that – I have a collection of old MP3s on old hard drives that are oddly priceless to me now because they are from smaller local bands that I was obsessed with in high school that aren’t (and never will be) on streaming. MP3s to me represent this really interesting intersection of music, art, technology, and capitalism.
The music that we’ve made we have literally trapped in an MP3… it’s possible that the only artistic legacy I’ll leave is a folder of files on a server for a big streaming site. MP3s and file-sharing have complicated the ways that artists can make an income, but they’ve also opened up the reach of independent artists. MP3s are, technically-speaking, low-resolution, but we all kinda get used to it and can barely notice the difference, which I think is an apt metaphor for life in modernity, anyhow. I guess we’re also hoping that the album will be immersive enough to draw the listener in, and we’ll trap YOU in our MP3s. So look out!
Kendra: With the year quickly coming to an end, what do you guys have planned as we say adios to 2019 and hello to 2020? The album’s dropping, so will there be a fall/winter run of shows?
Devon Lougheed: We’ve got a busy fall playing with Skye all over the world, so we’ll be playing Altered By Mom shows in earnest in winter 2020. We’re looking forward to visiting all our old stomping grounds from Toronto to Halifax and everywhere in between. Maybe we’ll even get out to the west coast! We’ve also started recording new material already. I guess we’re never going to stop making MP3s.