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The Interiors back on track after injury delayed debut album
By Lisa Balde | Beep Entertainment Editor

The Interiors: forward-thinking music geeks who unabashedly grew bored of the scene's boxed-up indie sound.

 

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Published: 7/9/2008 12:05 AM

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Last spring, life was good for Chicago's The Interiors. The rock trio had finished recording much of their self-titled album, and they'd just inked a deal with Michigan label 54-40 or fight! to release it. They were looking ahead: planning tours, thinking about release dates. That's when a big metal door slammed onto their plans - or more precisely, guitarist and singer Chase Duncan's left index finger.

Perhaps few worse things can happen to an up-and-coming guitarist than losing part of a strumming finger, but that's what happened to Duncan. Thankfully for him - and the future of The Interiors - this story comes with a happy ending.

After more than six months of recovery on the part of Duncan's left digit, The Interiors began playing music again and slowly but surely, worked themselves back up to where they left off. They recently released their self-titled album to increasingly flattering reviews and for the first time in a while, are looking forward to East Coast and Midwest tours.

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Steeped in big, loud guitars and notes of African-inspired rhythms, The Interiors (Duncan, bassist Collin Jordan and drummer Brian Lubinsky) are best described as forward-thinking music geeks who unabashedly grew bored of the scene's boxed-up indie sound, so they decided to pick it up, toss it around for a while and peek inside to see what happened. The result is upended, harmonious rock that's dipped in politics and buffed out with Duncan's swanky, clear pipes. In the following edited conversation, Lubinsky talks about the new album, the band's recovery after Duncan's accident and their latest sex-associated recordings.

Q. I've read that you and your bandmates listen to and have been inspired by African music. Did that play into the new album at all?

A. I'd say it did a lot. I think you can hear it maybe a little more explicitly on some of the quieter numbers. You know, I hear of bands that are starting to tap dance to African music, and it's real overt, like, "Hey, look; we're playing African music." That's fine, but for us we're not trying to wear it on our sleeves so much as just take some of the principles. - It's just kind of another way to write. We don't want to be this sharp, angular band all the time. We all like music to be limber, too. More tangibly, I think we get some ideas from it, but we try not to beat people over the head with it.

Q. Did everyone discover the genre collectively, or did you start listening to it and introduce it to the rest of the band?

A. I think we all checked it out a little bit. I started playing with Chase for a few years before we found Collin. A month after I'd been playing with Chase, he went up to New York to hang out with family, and he came back and he's like, "I found this African guitar player named Franco, and you've got to check this guy out." So it was kind of independent in a way, but then I'd get a new record, and I'd be like, "Chase, man, you have to listen to this; oh my God!" And then he'd find something, and then Collin came in, and he's a recording engineer so he naturally listens to everything under the sun.

Q. It feels like the new album has been talked about a lot in conjunction with Chase's injury. Give me a rundown of what happened.

A. Basically, Chase was getting up in the morning and leaving for work. The door at his apartment building is this big heavy metal door, and a big gust of wind slammed it. He was just at first like, "Ow," but then he realized what had happened. He couldn't get the door open, and I guess someone was walking by who lived there, and he was just kind of like, "Uh, excuse me, could you please open the door so I can retrieve my chunk of finger?"

Q. How did you hear about it?

A. I was at work and got a call from Collin, who was like, "Chase went to the hospital; he got a big piece of his finger cut off." Everybody was freaked out, but Chase, I'm sure, was most of all, by far. I guess he did the whole pack-it-on-ice thing and take it to the hospital and try to get it sewed back on. They managed to reconstruct some of it, but it's shorter than what it was.

Q. What's the recuperation time for something like that?

A. That happened in March or April (2007) - it happened in the spring - and we started attempting to play again in January. We were pretty much just out of action (for the rest of the year). - Collin's a studio owner; he's actually a mastering engineer, but he has all kinds of experience recording and mixing. One upshot of all that time off was we got to spend a lot of time just getting things right.

Q. I love "Power lines," but I can't get "I'm So Happy" out of my head. Did these songs stick out immediately when you recorded them or started putting them together?

A. We like early rock 'n' roll, punk, and we're into African music too and kind of looking to do something a little different. I felt like when we wrote "Power Lines" - one of the newer songs we'd written for the album - when we got that together, I think we were pretty excited, because we felt like that was the most successful synthesis of all the elements that we'd been talking about.

Q. A lot of the album's reviews start out with things like, "Finally, a really great band from Chicago." What's up with that? What's it like being a band in Chicago these days?

A. We're just getting back to playing out in the city, but there are some really great bands and great venues around here. It's competitive and it's hard, but it's great, too, especially when you go out on the road. You get further east, and they're all like, "Oh man, you're from Chicago!" It helps.

Q. So what's next for you guys?

A. We're doing a few regional weekends and then we're touring out east in late July and early August. We're actually setting up another out-east tour that'll take us down south a little, too. We're writing new songs and getting our stage show really tight. I actually think we're just playing way better than we did at the time we recorded the album. We got some of the limitations taken off of us, instrumentally, and it's kind of opening up some new songwriting avenues.

Q. So besides listening to this current album, we can look forward to something different to come?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Any hints?

A. I think the playing is going to be more sparse; I think there's going to be less of a reliance on big guitars. And I think just in general, we're handling our instruments a lot better these days. - Chase's melodic skills keep growing. Also, I felt like this album was mostly political, as far as content, and so far the newer stuff seems more sexually oriented.

Q. That's hot.

A. Marvin Gaye did it. Went from politics to sex. It seems like we are a little bit, too.

Q. Did it start off with a political theme or was it something that just naturally emerged?

A. I think just over the last few years. I'm going to be blunt. What's been going on in our country is shameful, and we're pretty angry about it. It occupies our minds a lot. Again, getting back to the African music thing, we're not looking to beat anyone over the head with anything, but if you look at the lyrics for "I'm So Happy," I think it's a pretty strong critique of the type of mentality that's allowed the things that have happened (to) happen in the past few years. A lot of the other (references) are maybe more metaphorical or allegorical.