Spencer Krug heats up with Finnish bandmates on second full-length
Before Spencer Krug comes to the United States to tour as Moonface—thus baring his recently broken heart for fans eager to hear his latest indie experiment, With Siinai: Heartbreaking Bravery—he reflects back on the solace he found, while surrounded by his Helsinki-bred backup band, Siinai, in a sauna in Finland.
Krug, associated with a remarkable roster of in-demand indie rock bands from his home country of Canada (Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, Swan Lake), recalls one particularly influential sauna session that inspired the two minutes of instrumental, glitchy fuzz called “10,000 Scorpions.” The song is the sixth track off Heartbreaking Bravery, released in April.
“After we recorded that song, in a studio two hours north of Helsinki, we took a sauna in the basement of the studio—an almost nightly occurrence,” says Krug. “The boys had had a few drinks that night and started singing some old Russian folk song that involved throwing water on the hot rocks after every verse. Within three minutes I ran naked and screaming from the sauna while they laughed and laughed from within in their un-burnable Finn-skin. I later told them it felt like I was covered in 10,000 scorpions.”
Bonding abroad with his resilient bandmates rubbed off on Krug, who had been working through heartache prior to recording the album. The juxtaposition of Siinai’s heavy new age noise and Krug’s heartfelt vocals sounds as tough as it is beautiful. But Heartbreaking Bravery isn’t a pity party soundtrack; it’s the kick in the ass you need to move forward.
“The first lyrics for the album were born out of some recent anger and heartache that I was working through,” explains Krug. “The ‘injured but healing’ tone seemed to work well with Siinai’s dark and luxurious melodrama, and so those lyrics became the genesis of a theme. But I luckily haven’t suffered enough heartache in my life to fill an entire album, so only some of the songs are drawn from my own experience, whereas others are fictional, or inspired by shit that my friends have gone through/ put each other through over the years.”
Heartbreaking Bravery is both rich and warped in terms of music and lyrical content, giving way to feelings of anger and anguish, and paving the way for new ones, such as indifference. Take the lyrics to the drum-thumping, tambourine-bashing tune “I’m Not the Phoenix Yet,” for example: “I know you know that I want/to forgive and forget/but I know you know that I’m not/the phoenix yet.”
The artwork on the front and back of the album—an apparition-like, stark-white arm, amidst a black backdrop—by New York photographer Dusdin Condren, literally goes hand-in-hand with the underlying themes present in Heartbreaking Bravery.
“Those hand photos we chose for the album art—clutching, stretching—they seemed to convey a sense of creepy, desperate hope; a fantastical sickness; a simple and dark beauty, that we all thought reflected the music well.”
The album is unlike any of Krug’s previous solo efforts—such as the epic percussive tale Dreamland EP: Marimba and Shit-Drums (2010), and the more demonic and dancy, Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped (2011)—in that this is the first time the singer doesn’t take on all instrumental responsibilities, which he couldn’t be more psyched about.
“With this particular record—these tours—I’m really digging being a singer,” says Krug. “With Siinai, I hardly play a thing—a bit of keyboard or guitar here and there; some tambourine—but mostly I’m free to just wander around and really enjoy singing. It’s totally new to me; I’ve never not been chained to an instrument on stage. I love it.”
On Thursday, Sept. 13, Krug will commandeer the mic at The Crepe Place, while Siinai lays down the groove.
Asked about his moniker, Moonface, Krug said, “It refers only to the fact that I have a very round face. Me singing ‘I am the moonfaced flower child’ [on the Dreamland EP] was probably me making fun of the fact that I’m a bit of a secret hippy, which I am.”
It’s safe to say that Krug will fit right in here.
Moonface (with Siinai) plays at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at The Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12. For more information, call 429-6994.
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