School of Seven Bells
As one third of alt-rock dream trio School of Seven Bells, former Secret Machines guitarist Benjamin Curtis shares the stage with crystalline-voiced identical twins Alejandra and Claudia Deheza. The band’s second album, Disconnect From Desire, is an avalanche of sublime shoegazer pop infused with dizzying, ethereal harmonies. Curtis chatted by phone from his stomping grounds of Brooklyn, New York.
All three of you now have large tattoos of the sigil from the cover of the new album. Did you get them done at the same time?
I think I got mine on a Friday, Claudia got hers on a Saturday, and Ali got hers on a Sunday. I brought it up a little while ago and said I was gonna get one. Of course, then we all had to do it. It pretty much encapsulated one of the craziest years we’ve had in our lives so far, so it was kind of perfect.
The lyrics on the new album are more personal than your debut, Alpinisms. And yet the music is a lot poppier.
Alpinisms was a broad stroke from a broad brush, so we thought it would be interesting to shift the perspective a little bit and make more of a human record.
You recorded Desire at home. Some musicians find this a difficult process, because you have the opportunity to tinker with the record 24/7. How was the experience for you?
It’s a great way to work, and it’s a horrible way to work. We focus on a lot of certain details. At home you don’t need to feel guilty for making someone suffer through trying to make a backing vocal sound exactly the same as it does in our heads. Sometimes little things like that take a week. But you have to know when to quit. We’re pretty frank when it comes to ideas. We don’t spare each other’s feelings.
You’ve finally added a drummer to your live setup. Why the wait?
At first we didn’t want the audience to be distracted by too much movement on stage. A lot of people seemed to have a problem with that. It’s okay if you’re an electronic musician, but not if you’re a rock band. It was almost enough to make me never want to play with a drummer! The dynamic on this record is more ecstatic and powerful. It’s so much fun to play with someone bashing away next to you. Once you start playing with a live drummer you can never really go back.
School of Seven Bells visits Lincoln Hall on Friday 17.