The Problem with Living in the Moment is not only my second favorite album title of 2014 (trailing only Moz’s World Peace is None of Your Business) but the concept resonates in a quite profound and scary way, as an art school graduate trying to balance a life dedicated to the “creative” with actually surviving as an adult at 30. The album is the third LP from Boston’s The Grownup Noise, a band that has also done quite a bit of evolving and adapting. The project began as a duo, with guitarist/songwriter Paul Hansen and bassist Adam Sankowski, but has undergone numerous transformations and is currently officially a five-piece, but with several additional prominent contributors. Their latest album, which was released this October, is their most thoroughly accomplished yet, boasting their blend of indie folk with a knack for grand and uplifting pop sensibilities… They’re actually quite similar to the earliest incarnations of fellow-Bostonians and good friends of PHILTHY, Mean Creak, back when they were churning out epic Americana, as opposed to the punk rock they currently kick out. The Grownup Noise wrapped 2014 with a number of November dates, and while they seem to be most focused on new music, they do have a January 30th date at The Sinclaire in Cambridge with Philly’s own The Lawsuits. I recently got a chance to chat with Paul Hansen about all of this and more.
Izzy Cihak: You recently wrapped a string of November tour dates. What were the highlights of those live performances? Were there any cities that were especially inspiring?
Paul Hansen: Although it was a relatively short tour, pound for pound, it might’ve been one of our best. The most inspiring highlight was, for the first time, we sold out a venue on the road, in Chicago. To pull up to the venue after a full day’s drive and see “sold out” written over our tour poster was amazing.
Izzy: You’ve been a band for a while now and have evolved from a duo into quite a large and dynamic outfit. How would you characterize this evolution as a band?
Paul: Part survival, part falling in love with how different musician friends interpret the music and experimenting with the arrangements. Now we have this insanely talented extended family band, with Adam and I as Mom and Dad.
Izzy: At the end of October you released The Problem with Living in the Moment. How do you feel like the album compares to previous releases, both in terms of the sound and the process of writing and recording it?
Paul: I don’t think it’s a departure from what we’ve been doing the past few years, but maybe just a crystallization of it. The process was the same too: I’d bring a song to Adam and then we’d bring it to the band and we’d all work out the final details.
Izzy: Do you currently have a particular favorite album track, whether one that you’re most proud of, or just one that’s most fun to play live? I dig the whole album, but “Come Sunday” really stands out for me.
Paul: That is the thing that is odd, but fun I guess. That song keeps changing. As soon as we pick a favorite, a fan or one of us will start talking about a different one and then we’ll begin to get into that one. For example, we didn’t even play “A Hill to Die On” live, and then people starting mentioning it moved them, so we reexamined it and now it’s one of our favorites. So it seems to move with whatever someone is feeling at the given time. And, I like to think that speaks to the general strength of all the songs.
Izzy: What would you currently consider to be your most significant influences, both musical and non-musical?
Paul: We love the raw honesty and un-curated sounds of bands like the Wu-tang Clan and Guided by Voices. Even though we realize it’s very different from what we do, it inspires us to try and let down our guard more. Also, horror movies, comedy, Indian food, etc..
Izzy: Since we’re nearing the end of the year, I’ve been asking artists if they’ve had any favorite music to be released or performed throughout the year. Has the year seen any releases or performances that you found to be especially exciting or inspiring?
Paul: This is in the bummer category: classic Guided by Voices broke up… again.
Izzy: Finally, how do you hope and plan to spend 2015?
Paul: Hopefully recording a new album with producer Sam Kassirer!