This past October, Kiwi born, New York based, self-described “twisty, indie, folk” band Streets of Laredo released their second record, entitled Wild. In the midst of its release, I was able to catch singer, guitarist, pretty much a bit of everything, Sarahjane Gibson over the phone to talk about the new album, being on tour and finally getting the chance to go back home.
You’ve just released your second LP. Describe the creative process for this record compared to the last. Did you go into it differently?
This time, we were more purposefully making a record. The first was more that we set out to make a record. And it was set out for a long time. But now, there’s lots of collaboration in between. It was like, some of us would have an idea and then we’d all try and work on it together. It’s more purposeful.
Had you written this record with a New York City mindset, where the environment influenced you now that you’re all a little more adjusted with the city?
Yes, I definitely think so. We’re all lyrically very personal writers and we write about the life we’ve chosen; about not being home, and the choices that we had to make and the risks that we had to take to get here. We write about being good human beings in this environment. [We’re also] influenced by a lot of the music we see living here, too. So, New York itself definitely continues to influence us.
Do you think the record would have sounded differently if you were still in New Zealand?
I think a record organically comes out how it does. I think we would have taken a similar approach, a similar track, if we were still in New Zealand. We have lots of resources at home to draw on and this is what came out. But if we had gone home, I’m not sure what came out of us is what would have been. We would have been more relaxed at home, maybe less productive in making this record.
What’s it like working with two brothers, one of which is your husband? Is there ever a clash of ideas or fights?
I mean, there’s always tension when people want different things, but Dave and Dan always want the same things since they’re similar minded. There’s that family thing where you know how to work things out. You learn how to discuss things well and you come to conclusions better together when it comes to the sound that you want. But now, we feel like we’ve learned how to navigate that area just because we really know each other.
With that said, how do you all share the writing process?
It is very democratic. We had so many songs that we put together in pre-production. They were the ones that rose foward. It just becomes clearer the more you work on it. John [Agnello] helped up with the final cuts when we got down to the wire. He was such a big part of the discussion.
This record is different since you worked with John Agnello [Sonic Youth, Phosphorescent] as a producer. Why did you decide to work with him specifically?
We always had our eye on him as a producer we wanted to work with. We did a practice with him, a little song session early last year. Just one song and we loved it! The whole experience working with him was amazing. He is a real legend and a real musician at heart. He’s really cheeky and the whole process was really painless. John just got what we wanted to do and speaks the language of a musician. He’s such a creative soul.
The Gibson brothers have been working in music for a while, with their work in their past bands. Did you have a similar and extensive musical background growing up?
I used to play solo in New Zealand. It was much more “girl on guitar at dive bars” situation. And I was shy about it all. I always wanted to write songs and make music but I wasn’t so motivated for them to be public. It’s a very safe environment for me. But marrying Dave definitely pulled me out of it a lot. It’s really cool for me now. This was the right band for me.
You’re currently on tour with Nick Valensi’s (of The Strokes) new band, CRX. What has the experience on the road been like with him?
It’s been really great! He’s an amazing musician and the bands we tour with are bands that we love. Listening to the bands you’re in the van with is so cool.
And going on about touring, how do you try to bring the album to the live music setting?
We try to make it sound as much as the album as we can. But there’s a lot of overdone things on a record that can’t be done, but we’re trying. We obviously can’t play all of our material in our set time. We just try to mix it up a bit so we can practice the new songs.
Is there a process that occurs where you visualize what you’re going to do or how you’re going to sing?
Well, since it is a new album [playing the newer songs] really helps us find out what works and what gets people’s attention better. It’s like we’re trying to get the ultimate set out to everyone to enjoy.
What’s your favorite new song to play live?
“Silly Bones”! It’s so fun to play. We bring out our pocket pianos and just have fun with it.
How are the crowds like on tour?
It’s really different all over America and there are such different vibes everywhere in the country. We haven’t really played much in New Zealand. We played one big show and then moved to New York, so we haven’t played that much there. Hopefully, we get to play out there and go home for a while and play.
What are you looking forward to in the New Year, as an individual, but also for the band?
I’m looking forward to going home and having a New Zealand summer while you guys are freezing here in New York, haha. As a band, as soon as you put out a record, you start thinking of what’s coming up next and what the next one is going to sound like. I’m looking forward to seeing what we might want to say on that next record. We write almost as soon as the album is finished and we’re always throwing around some ideas, so that’ll be fun.