Effervescent echoes and spectral instrumentation waft through the air, creating, what some might call, a symphony of lo-fi harmonization and hauntingly desperate ambiance. Here We Go Magic’s self-titled debut album has, in the last few months, gained a lot of notoriety with music critics. Pitchfork named the work an honorable mention for their best album list of 2009, while, according to Spin and Under the Radar magazines, Here We Go Magic was also on their tongue of favorable releases. Luke Temple’s falsetto cry accentuates the breathy instrumentation, especially on songs like “Fangala” and “Tunnelvision”, where his high-pitched howls sound like, when listening carefully, to Bon Iver or Pinback. Originally recorded on a 4-track player, Temple, in tinkering with minimalist guitar work and repetitious choruses, chiseled a buoyant and moody record. Now, with a full band behind Temple, Here We Go Magic has been touring with everyone from Grizzly Bear to The Walkmen. Cinema Spartan caught up with Michael Bloch, guitarist for the band, to talk about the band’s switch to the Secretly Canadian record label; their upcoming record; and Bloch’s personal favorite films.
Robert Patrick: First, you’ve been receiving a lot of positive media attention this year. Pitchfork, to my knowledge, named your record as an honorable mention for their “Best Albums List” of 2009. What has the band’s reaction been to all of this acclaim?
Michael Bloch: We’re getting excited about it. Anytime someone talks about us, it makes me realize how much the music is getting around. There wasn’t a lot of push behind our debut record – there was a lot of inertia – so the feeling of it being well received is by so many people is amazing.
Here We Go Magic is such an appropriate name for a sound that’s so atmospheric. What’s the story behind the band’s name?
That came from [lead singer] Luke Temple’s mind. I’m not sure exactly how it became. I think he just kind of came up with it one day. Words came together in a conversation and then, from what I remember, he liked them so much that they became stuck in his head. I think he was thinking of so much imagery, stuff that would be best fit to describe the sound of his music, and he thought Here We Go Magic would work.
You guys just moved to Secretly Canadian, another record company. What was the deciding factor in moving labels?
Secretly Canadian saw a show of ours, and they really loved us. They understand our music, so that was the biggest thing for us moving labels. They’re being great to us, so it’s hard for the band not to feel excited about the whole thing. The new record is going to come out this spring, and we’re enthusiastic about it coming out with their support.
If you were to introduce someone to your music, and you could only select one song from your debut album, which track would you recommend?
Without a doubt, I’d choose “Tunnelvision”. That was a song that we really threw around; we tried a lot of things with it. There was a lot of experimentation, for the most part, on trying to get the instrumentation right at shows. Luke first recorded it on a four track, and I remember when he first played it for me, I felt that it was special. The song is such a magical creation. I think its definitely one of the best things that he has recorded. I don’t know if we thought it would be a single, because when Here We Go Magic first recorded that, I’m not sure Luke thought there would be a record to sell in general. “Tunnelvision” is really curiosity driven; he found all of these interesting sounds and created a fantastic world. I could listen to that song forever.
What can we look forward to on the next album, now that Luke has a band behind him?
We wrote the album in a lot of isolation. Because of how much emotion went into it, I really think there is an indiscernible kind of heart to the record. Now that Luke has a full band, the dimensions have changed.
Having had toured with Grizzly Bear, what were your fondest memories with them?
I think it was playing with them in San Francisco. That was the last night of the tour, so it was bittersweet for us. We really got to know those guys well. I think, during that point in time, we really knew that everything came together for us. Playing music with those guys, seeing these hippie fans in San Francisco, jamming out all night – the experience was amazing.
Somewhere I read that you guys were listening to the soundtrack for Werner Herzog’s remake of “Nasferatu” while you were recording some of your music, is that true?
Again, most of the last record was Luke’s doing. I know that, from what I can remember, he was enchanted with Krautrock and that sort of thing. But I cant say specifically if that influenced the recordings or not.
More and more bands, such as Daft Punk or Yo La Tengo, have been hired to score films recently. Would Here We Go Magic ever be interested in doing something similar for a film?
Definitely. I love film – and that’d be something that I’d be into. I also think that it would be something that the band would do really well. Actually, Luke already composed a score for our friend Matt Johnson, who is a director, a little while ago. Most certainly if we had a chance to score a film, we would definitely do it. If given the opportunity it would be great to do the music for a sci-fi film.
What is one of your favorite movies that you would recommend?
I really like “Lilja 4-ever”, by a Swedish director named Lukas Moodysson. And I also really like a film that my friend showed me, several years ago, called “Come and See”. Both of those movies are films that really stuck with me. I’ll leave you with those two, even though they are also my friend’s favorite movies, so I feel a little cheap (laughs). Actually, I have one more, which might be sort of strange, but it’s a documentary called “The Battle of Chile”. It’s one of the most powerful films that I’ve ever seen. It has all of these really electric scenes that evoke so much emotion.
Since we’re on the subject of visuals, tell me about the cover of your last album. The imagery is very indicative of the band’s sound.
Luke painted that by hand. It’s a sort of an abstract spaceship. It’s what he painted when he thought of what Here We Go Magic might look like. There is a cohesiveness to that whole record. I think the next record will have that, too, where the imagery and sound will blend together.
Are you guys looking forward to playing at a venue like Coachella in the future?
I think we’re going to play a couple of festivals. They haven’t announced it officially, so I shouldn’t say. But I think we’ll probably play Bonnaroo. We definitely want to experience a festival. We played Austin City Limits, which was really fun. But those type of large venues aren’t where we really shine. We like to play in locations where we can hear ourselves bouncing off the walls. As a band I don’t think the idea of a huge stadium excites us as much as a small basement. We feel better when we have people look into our eyes when we play, rather than just a horde of people watching us play on the grass. But it’s definitely exciting to get a sense of what playing such a massive venue is like.
What can you say about your overall experience with Here We Go Magic?
For me, I’ve been playing with Lucas for the past three years. I’ve been playing with him since before there was Here We Go Magic, so I’ve known him for a long time. But before I joined the band I was playing totally different styles of music. But Lucas was the only person in music that I connected with. His music is more song based and reflective. To me, every step has been exciting. So much has been created, in my mind, this last ten or eleven months, that the material has surpassed even what I did in the last few years combined.
For more information on Here We Go Magic, visit: www.myspace.com/herewegomagic, www.herewegomagic.com, and www.secretlycanadian.com.