It’s a mystery
Dressing like a target, splitting the seams …
One year ago today, a band that has already given us so much in the past two decades gave us a gift that was truly incomparable. On October 26, 2018, Louden Swain released their ninth album — Splitting the Seams. The key ingredients that make up this indie rock group are the heavenly voice of Rob Benedict, the killer guitar riffs of Billy Moran, the catchy bass rhythms of Michael Borja, and the steady drum beats of Stephen Norton.
I can still remember the unexpected awe that overcame me as I listened to Splitting the Seams for the very first time. It’s not that I went into it thinking it would be anything less than incredible, but it ended up being so much more than I ever could have imagined. It was a unique feeling — to experience songs that are so achingly familiar to you being transformed into something wonderfully brand new.
One of the most pleasantly surprising and overall impressive things about this record is that it’s not your typical acoustic album. As is the norm in the music industry, an acoustic album would generally consist of stripped down, quieter versions of songs (which is always a great bonus for fans). Louden Swain clearly wasn’t having this, though, as Splitting the Seams ended up being an entirely re-imagined musical ensemble; they went the whole nine yards and kept on going.
We asked Rob Benedict for his thoughts on Splitting the Seams, and this is what he had to say:
That album was so unique for us, to have the freedom in the studio to be working with songs that were already completely written. Our job became not how to complete their composition, but to reimagine them. It was a new and exciting challenge for a group that had been doing it differently for 20 years. I think the new version of “Rock Song” is one of our all time best. So happy people have enjoyed it – especially because it was inspired by fans who had asked for acoustic versions of the songs.
We also had a chance to chat with Billy Moran!
Nerds and Beyond: Splitting the Seams was met with an overwhelmingly positive response from the Louden Swain fanbase, from fans both new and old. How has the response to the album affected you and the rest of the band?
Billy: I was really excited for everyone to hear this album. To date, it was some of our most exciting work we’ve ever done, from chasing down tones and experimenting with different techniques in the studio, we really took a lot of extra time to dial in what we wanted the vibe of the record to be. Even without the responses, the outcome really inspired the guys and I to want to pursue this same approach on the next LS album. Once the responses did start to come in, my excitement surrounding it was validated.
Nerds and Beyond: Splitting the Seams challenged you and the rest of the band to find new and interesting ways to rework existing Louden Swain songs that you’ve been playing for years. Has taking on that exercise changed anything about the way that you approach writing music now, be it for Louden Swain content or music for any other projects?
Billy: Yeah, I’ve always loved messing with existing songs and making them sound completely different than their originals. I did that for Briana Buckmaster’s when she covered our song Wave on her album Begin. When we discussed revamping the songs for Splitting the Seams, that idea really excited me. I think that process has certainly made me more mindful of how to tailor a song and guide it in a certain direction. In the past, we’d get together work on a song and whatever it turned out to be is what we went with. But now, I find myself looking at the writing process in a different way, there are songs that come out that I know right away where they’re gonna land and how they’re gonna sound, while others that leave me scratching my head.
Nerds and Beyond: Were there any songs that you started working on or recorded for Splitting the Seams that didn’t quite make the final cut, and would you ever release them?
Billy: Yes, we laid down a couple of covers during the recording process for STS. Ultimately, we decided to leave them off as we already had so many reimagined original tunes to put on there. We have no plans to release them at this point.
Nerds and Beyond: Is there any chance of more songs from Louden Swain’s discography getting the Splitting the Seams treatment in the future (even if it’s just a one-off rather than an entire album)?
Billy: We haven’t discussed it. I’d say right now we are really focused on writing new music for the next Swain album using some of those same techniques we’ve learned during the STS sessions. All I can say is that I share the same amount of excitement for this next album as I did for the last one. It’s time for some new Swain!
Thank you, Billy! And we couldn’t agree more, we absolutely can’t wait to hear what you guys have been working on!
Splitting the Seams isn’t just another Louden Swain record. It’s a love letter to all the fans. It’s an encapsulation of decades of hard work, the flowing river where streams come to meet. It’s a brightly burning reminder of the true talents of this band and the bond they’ve forged over the years. It’s a familiar walk home down a well-worn path, with some wonderful surprises along the way.
If you find yourself planning to attend a Creation Entertainment Supernatural convention, do yourself a favor and bid on Louden Swain’s Acoustic Jam when the meet and greet auctions go live. This newer convention event gives a group of fans the unique opportunity to witness an intimate acoustic performance by the band, and you never know what songs they might play!
Along with upcoming appearances at Creation Entertainment’s Supernatural conventions and Rockwood Music Festival, Louden Swain has a handful of their own shows scheduled for 2020. They will be at the North Door in Austin, TX on January 18, Subterranean in Chicago, IL on Feb 22, and The Red Room @ Cafe 939 in Boston, MA on March 21.