To get the sound right on his upcoming album The Party, Andy Shauf (@andyshauf) tried recording with a full band but reverted back to his tried-and-true method: doing it all himself, from guitars and drums to horns and strings. This time, at least, he had the luxury of tracking the LP in a proper studio as opposed to the basement of his parents’ Saskatchewan house, like he did with his last album, The Bearer of Bad News. “It would be 5 o’clock, and someone comes home and starts making noise,” he deadpans with the tiniest hint of a Canadian accent. “But this place I could look at the clock, start recording drums at 11 a.m., and continue to record the same drum part until 8 p.m. when I looked up at the clock again and realized how much time I wasted.”
The Party, due out May 20 from Anti-, is Andy’s most upbeat affair yet, driven by a sound that still echoes Elliott Smith but fleshed out with lush, proggy arrangements. “I really wanted to model it after the Steely Dan Aja record, so that was kind of something I was looking for specifically, kind of a ‘70s L.A. thing,” he says. “It morphed a bit after that.”
Thematically, The Party is a loosely connected series of vignettes about the sadder side of social gatherings. “I realized that I was writing a lot about mistakes centered around drinking,” he says. “I started to project myself into the same scenarios of emotional decisions that at a time when you shouldn’t be making decisions, like when you’re at a party.” Without citing particular incidents, Andy says the source material comes from both life as a touring musician and residing in Regina. “Someone put it best to me the other day — ‘A town like that, either you drink or you leave,’” he says of Saskatchewan’s capital city.
While it’s not all sunshine and roses, The Party marks a change for Andy in that there’s more optimism in his lyrics, a conscious choice that mostly comes from his ambition and partially stems from when his grandmother told him to write happier songs. “I kept getting questions like, ‘Your songs are so sad. Are you a sad person?’ No.”
Part of that mood change is due to success — when recording Bearer at home, Andy also worked as a janitor at a local venue, The Exchange, cleaning up beer cups, spit-out gum and other kinds of filth that concertgoers leave behind. “I was more focused on making something that would stick around for me musically,” he says of The Party. “I’m excited to see who will hear it.”
––Dan Reilly for Instagram @music