The Spill Canvas
are proving that some hiatuses have a happy ending. After spending over a year outside of the music scene, the quartet have reunited to make a record on their own terms, and with the sound that they'd striven for years to make. On May 22, they'll release the culmination of that work -- Gestalt
-- and to give you a taste of what's in store, they're premiering the new tune "From: San Francisco". They've also taken the time to catch up with us about making music independently, enjoying a closer relationship with their fans, and learning to trust their own ear when making music. Spin the song, read the PV Q&A, and get ready to be blown away by Gestalt
PureVolume: After going through that year-long, indefinite break, how would you describe the first moment you were all back in the studio together?
Nick Thomas: Well, there definitely wasn't a lack of emotion, that's for sure. But the feelings that did outshine all the rest were the sense of home and excitement. We'd been waiting for what seemed like an eternity to begin work on an album that came entirely from the collective heart of the band.
PV: Can you talk about what it was that drove you back to not only the music, but to making music as The Spill Canvas?
Landon Heil: Several months into the band's hiatus we all ended up back in South Dakota, and we realized that we owed it to ourselves and to the fans to record and release another album -- an album of songs that we had 100 percent creative control in writing. We had some songs written and really felt strongly about getting them recorded. The main driving force was definitely the fans. We felt like the way things went down with the hiatus left some fans [very confused]. We also quickly realized how much we missed playing music together. It was an amazing experience writing and recording Gestalt, and we are definitely proud of how it turned it. Our fans have been so wonderful to us and we felt like they deserved another album. We are excited for everyone to hear it.
PV: You chose to do things independently for this new album. How do you think your experience with a label related to that decision, if at all?
Joe Beck: Our experience with labels had everything to do with this decision. I think every band is a bit naive going into a record label situation. We learned the hard way that labels don’t always have your best interest in mind. You become a small fish in an enormous pond.
PV: Having been on a label for a while, though, did you feel like you had learned anything you could take with you when putting this album out independently?
Dan Ludeman: Yes, I would say we learned a few things. We learned that it was going to take a lot more than simply going into the studio, recording some songs, and calling it a day. There are things that need to take place before we even consider writing an album -- budget, producer, studio, pre-production, mixing, mastering, marketing, etc. A label taught us the details and the importance of these things. A label also taught us what NOT to do. We've learned to trust our own ear rather than someone else's. After all, we are the musicians.
PV: What has been the greatest joy of working as an independent band?
DL: My greatest joy would have to be the fact that we have pretty much absolute freedom to do what we want musically. It makes for a much more intimate relationship with our fans. It makes this band feel like it belongs to us much more than it did before.
PV: Your Kickstarter
campaign went remarkably well! You raised double what you had set out to do! Can you talk about one of the most important things you learned from using Kickstarter as a platform?
DL: I would have to say that it showed us that people really do care a lot more than we’d thought. It has given us a new way to interact with our fans. It has given our band a huge boost in self-esteem. We love the fact that this amazing tool has allowed our fans to affect us DIRECTLY, rather than through a third party. We look forward to using Kickstarter again.
PV: Do you think platforms like this allow artists to develop more of a relationship with fans than they might have if a label was backing the album?
LH: I definitely think being independent makes it much more imperative to be in constant communication with the fans. We always tried to do this anyway, but now, especially with Kickstarter, the fan interaction becomes your only way to survive and, subsequently, thrive. To continue to make music, we want to know what the fans are looking for, so it is a vital part of the process -- not only with the little details of gathering all the Kickstarter backer information and incentives, but also being engaged with the fans on their reaction to different songs and merchandise items.
PV: It’s so interesting how your career has come full-circle, but still has so much life and so much more to go. Does that idea share any relation to your decision to name this album Gestalt?
JB: Gestalt was the perfect title for this record because it completely embodied everything about us as a group, about this record as a whole, and, in more general terms, about us as people. We all go through things in life that may cast a negative shadow, but we feel that over the course of time, the body of work and how you respond to your mistakes will define you. Similarly with the band, we don’t feel like we put out our best work with the last record, and we were left wishing we had taken a different approach. This record gives us a chance to right the ship so to speak and release the record we wanted to release in the first place. Hopefully our fans will be able to understand that.
PV: In comparison to your past albums, what do you think fans can expect from Gestalt?
NT: These types of questions are always tough to answer, being so close to the construction of each song -- it's hard to remove far enough away to truly observe. But I, personally, have never felt as connected to the music and content as I do with Gestalt. I feel we pushed new boundaries to what we are as a band, while making sure we paid respect to the roots from which we grew.
PV: On Gestalt, is there any song in particular that holds meaning to you and the journey you’ve gone through as a band?
NT: There are three that illustrate the peaks and valleys [myself and] the band have endured over the last nine years -- "To:Chicago", "Sabotage Internal", and "Off a Cliff".
PV: What’s next for you guys once this album drops?
JB: We are taking it very slow at this point in our lives. We all have a lot going on personally and we want to make sure we focus on self before focusing on our careers. We will play a few shows here and there, continue to write music, and see where that takes us.