Topshelf Records signees Us And Us Only take the mundane and make it spectacular; their new album, ‘Full Flower’, is out now.
Hey Kinsey, you guys have been together for a while now, but you’re only just releasing your debut album – what took so long? Has life been getting in the way?
Life is always in the way. Just kidding, but for real.
With this being our first proper full length, we made an effort to take our time with everything. We started this album when we had our old guitarist, and still good friend, Dan Windsor in the band. He helped us find our voice for the album in a lot of ways. Dan went off to film school in the great and vast land of Canada, and John Toohey came in soon after.
This album was the first opportunity we had to work with a bunch of songs and parse down with what we were proud of from there. We’ve gone from some weird bastardised version of folk to where we are now, so it was important for what we were putting out to be cohesive.
Beyond that, I think it can be prohibitive to depend on full-length albums, especially as we’ve spent so much of our time as a band without the support of a label like Topshelf Records. It’s been rewarding to stay playing shows frequently, put out some EP’s or songs here and there, and make an impression that way.
How did you come to decide what ‘Full Flower’ would sound like? Was it an easy process?
In part, it was decided in how Sean produced and arranged some of the songs. There were songs that I had brought to the group as skeletons, but once Sean had worked his actual magic like the “ooo’s” in ‘kno’ or the 808’s in ‘way2loud’, we knew that we had to go deeper with that.
When I write songs, I work in a pretty bare-bones manner. Lucky for me, I’m surrounded by immensely talented and creative people who know when and how to push something into a different territory.
A lot of these songs are recorded into my iPhone as voice memos, I expand on them a little bit through GarageBand, and they make their way to Sean who pulls some maestro shit to give them a voice.
Do you have any favourite moments or songs across the release?
I view the record through two different lenses – the really atmospheric, sort of dramatic quiet songs like ‘Veiled/Forming’ and ‘way2loud’. Then we have the louder, “rock” songs.
I have an immense love for how ‘Veiled/Forming’ came out. It started with me demoing the song on an organ in my dining room; Sean suggested that we bring it to the studio and it sort of bloomed from there. To me, between Suica’s violin and Lindsey’s vocals, I was floored at how lush it all sounded. It’s on some real Disney shit.
What do you most enjoy writing about?
I enjoy writing about relatively mundane things. I tend to quickly identify the horror or wonder in really normal situations, so it’s easy for me to take a situation like going grocery shopping or taking a walk through the woods and blow it out of proportion into this weird pseudo-cinematic life or death experience.
I write frequently about some kind of death. With the exception of some of our earlier songs like ‘Faith Void’, it’s not necessarily dealing with the subject in any grand manner. I certainly don’t have any answers. I’ve been fortunate enough to keep my experiences with death to a minimum, so I won’t pretend to be able to do justice to a lot of the complexities that accompany it. But I’m often applying the idea of a definitive end to everyday things. The death of a feeling, a period of your life, a space you’ve taken up for some time.
How did you come to sign with Topshelf Records?
We were asked to play a CMJ showcase in 2015 by our friend Emmy Feldman. There were a few Topshelf bands on the show as well, Donovan Wolfington and Nai Harvest. I got an e-mail a while later from Kevin at Topshelf who had some really kind things to say about our EP, ‘Bored Crusader’. He asked if we were working on anything and at that point, we had maybe three or four rough demos of songs that would make it onto ‘Full Flower’.
It really has been completely wonderful. They’re entirely supportive of us, and they also haven’t given me shit for all of the stupid jokes that I make when we Skype. They continually work with bands that they back, no matter where they stand on any level of commercial success (even though plenty of folks they’ve worked with have blown up), which is just a part of why we’re proud to be a part of their roster.
What’s the best thing about being in Us And Us Only?
I have a relatively strong distaste for the daily grind or just breathing air in general. There are a few hours a week where I literally leave all of that shit behind. Cheesy as it is, this band and the people in it have been making my life for like, six or seven years now.
We’re around each other more than we’re around our families. There’s something that comes along with that that’s rare to find, but even more difficult to maintain. So to be able to share that with these folks, and the few members who’ve come and gone over a couple of years is such a blessing.
I’m also forever thankful that we get the opportunity to collaborate with our friend, Lindsey Mills. I met her way back in 2007; she invited me to play a show down in Florida at our friend Tommy’s house. She’s my absolute favourite part of ‘Bored Crusader’ and ‘Full Flower’. She’s been touring and recording with Surfer Blood, but one day I’m going to win the lottery and try to pay her enough to join our band for real.
Are you up to anything fun over the summer?
Avoiding sunlight to the best of my ability. We just played a show with Horse Jumper of Love, Spencer Radcliffe & Everyone Else, and Elvis Depressedly – all bands and friends that we really enjoy, so that sort of kicked the summer off right.
We’re currently preparing for our record release show for ‘Full Flower’ which is alongside some of my absolute favorite artists in Baltimore – JPEGMAFIA, who is a total fucking force of nature, Raindeer who we go way back with, and Nina Gala which is my favorite artist I’ve heard in the last year here in Baltimore.
We’re also working on some late summer/fall tours. We’ve toured here and there, relatively sporadically, so we’re ready to do the actual damn thing behind this album.
Taken from the August issue of Upset – order a copy below. Us And Us Only’s album ‘Full Flower’ is out now.