"You can't control people's reactions to art. That's a fool's errand," says Annie Fredrickson, one of the new additions to Ben Daniels' ever-evolving dream-pop outfit A Sunny Day In Glasgow. Fredrickson, a classically trained cellist and pianist, makes only a handful of comments during an interview primarily handled by Daniels—the band's axis and sole original member—and Josh Meakim, the group's percussionist and recording engineer. Still, whenever she chimes in, Fredrickson seems to hit a nail on its head, a la Silent Bob dropping wisdom in the last five minutes of a Kevin Smith flick.
"I wouldn't want to be anywhere that's oversaturated, even if it's oversaturated with really good things," she says, referring to A Sunny Day In Glasgow's decision to stay put in its native Philadelphia (Scotland is just a red herring), rather than following the hipster herds to nearby Brooklyn.
Daniels concurs, paraphrasing Woody Allen via Groucho Marx in noting, "I couldn't be a part of any scene that would have me as a member."
This may partially explain why ASDIG's second album, Ashes Grammar, has side-stepped the blogospheric hype machine a bit, despite a decidedly positive critical response. The densely produced 22-track album-- an almost about-face from the band's bedroom-recorded 2007 debut Scribble Mural Comic Journal— introduces both Fredrickson and Meakim as prime contributors, with former key members Brice Hickey and Robin and Lauren Daniels (Ben's twin sisters) having departed the band amicably before its completion.
"We're super pleased that everyone seems happy with the record," says Meakim, "because we were afraid of the whole sophomore slump thing to a degree. You know, we were thinking, 'This is nothing like the last record. Nobody's going to like this.' But everyone I've talked to so far is pretty into it. So, we're happy and proud."
While Meakim and Fredrickson were initially recruited solely for their instrumental talents, the sudden departure of the Daniels sisters (one to grad school, the other to her injured boyfriend's bedside) left A Sunny Day In Glasgow without the two vocalists that had helped make Scribble Mural so memorable. Fortunately, both Fredrickson and Meakim admirably filled that vacancy, giving Ben Daniels the ghostly voices he needed to tie together his latest batch of heavily layered, trippy, but surprisingly catchy tunes.
"I always feel like pop music is the only kind of music I really actually understand," Daniels says. "But at the same time, my biggest fear is writing a boring song. So, they do tend to get a little weird. It's kind of like photography. When you study photography, you learn to focus on every possible way to convey information— how you develop it, how you print it, how you frame it. Everything is conveying information. In that way, I don't like to be lazy about anything when it comes to songwriting, either."
The only thing Daniels and his new bandmates (ASDIG is now a sextet on the road) are intentionally lazy about is explaining the mysteries behind their cryptic lyrics and ethereal soundscapes.
For now, A Sunny Day in Glasgow's time is far better spent looking forward, as the group seems to have finally solidified into a full, stable lineup for the first time in its four year existence.
"I definitely hope this is it," Daniels says. "I think I always wanted it to be a solid lineup, but people were always just living their lives and not doing the band thing."
"But now we're not living our lives," chimes Fredrickson, on cue.
Meakim chuckles. "Exactly! Now [the music] is what we're doing."
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