Home Video are Collin Ruffino and David Gross, transplants from the misunderstood landscape of New Orleans, now living in the brooding brownstones of Brooklyn, New York. Here they revel in a self-created world of references to Edward Gorey, Massive Attack, The Brothers Quay, Smashing Pumpkins, and a dusting of Chopin, references that they have been collecting for nearly ten years. When we interviewed them in 2009, we were in no way prepared for the majesty of the new album they released this week. The Automatic Process is certain to end up on our Top 10 albums of 2010 and it’s a must-listen for TDOA readers. We checked in with the band to talk about their new masterpiece.
TDOA: It’s been 18 months since we last interviewed you. Can you talk about the things and events that have occurred and inspired your new album, The Automatic Process?
HV: We were inspired by events happening in the world and our personal relationships. Lots of big things have happened in the last 18 months. The last two songs written and recorded for the album “The Smoke” and “The Automatic Process” speak to that the most.
“The Automatic Process” is this long epic struggle of a song. It runs the full gamut of emotion from bitter darkness, to brittle despair, to confident strength. I think all of the turmoil happening in the world crept it’s way into that song in particular. There has been a generally anxious, fevered feel in the world this past year.
“The Smoke” is more of a personal reflection on what it means to be in a relationship. It’s about facing the creeping hard truths that build up between two people.
TDOA: Fans know that “I Can Make You Feel It” has been around for a while, but what about the other songs on the record? How many of these were written in the past year and how do you think they differ from your “older” work?
HV: “I Can Make You Feel It” was started as an instrumental 4 years ago, and other songs have been around for a few years as rough sketches. It took songs like “The Smoke” and “The Automatic Process” for the rest of the track-listing to fall into place.
The one thing all of the songs on this album have in common is that they are a lot thicker than the songs on the first album. There’s more of everything – piano, guitars, percussion, and live drums. This represents a departure from the minimalist style of the first record.
TDOA: During our last interview, you mentioned your love of making videos. What plans do you have for the songs on the new album?
HV: We’ve already released videos for 2 of the songs on the new album (which were also on the EP), “I Can Make You Feel It” and “You Will Know What To Do”, and have several more in various stages of production. We’re really excited about the video for “Every Love That Ever Was”, which is pretty much ready for release. And while we do still love making videos, we were actually just actors (and executive producers) for this one – our first time working with a director and a proper crew. We’re working with other directors on videos for “The Smoke” and “An Accident” as well.
TDOA: Let’s talk a bit about the songwriting process for this record. What I love about Home Video songs is the layers of melody and rhythm, stacked cohesively on top of each other. How do your songs generally start? Vocal melody, a rhythm track, a keyboard melody…..?
HV: Most of our songs will start with either a beat or a chord progression – usually a combination of both. Then, if we’re both really into it, we build it out as much as we can. When it’s good, the flow is effortless – we both have instincts about what should get added and where. Once there’s enough of an instrumental track in place, Collin will spend some time with it to get some rough vocals down. A lot of the time the instrumental informs where he goes lyrically based on the mood of the track. After the rough vocals are there, we’ll go back and add more and restructure. We repeat that several times, tweaking whatever we think needs tweaking.
TDOA: The album reminds me a bit of Power, Corruption and Lies-era New Order in its beauty and depth. Were they any bands, albums or songs that were in heavy rotation in your minds as you wrote the new album?
HV: Thanks! We’ve been listening to as much music as we always have, but there are definitely some bands who have been really inspiring to us over the past few years: LCD Soundsystem, Blonde Redhead, and The Knife. For example, we love the live drum sounds on a lot of the DFA stuff, the harmonies and general lushness of Blonde Redhead, and the jagged synths and electronics of The Knife. And you can probably hear some of those elements in some of our songs.
TDOA: Frankly, I’d rather spend all of our time talking about music and none about the business of music. But I think it’s valuable for our readers to hear your take on the challenges of gaining an audience. In a perfect world, Pitchfork and all the cool kids would join us by having this album on their year-end top tens. How do aim to get your album into the ears of people around the world?
HV: We just have to do our best about getting our music out there. We’re hoping that there’s a tipping point that we can reach with enough hard work, but really it will probably be hard work all the way – and that’s OK. We appreciate how far we’ve come, and we’re really excited to get this new volume of work out there into the world.
TDOA: Lastly, let’s talk about touring. Tell us about your plans for playing live in the new year, please.
HV: We just got back earlier this week from a mini-tour on the west coast. No set plans as of yet, but we’re hoping to tour more early next year. We’re also really excited to be releasing this record on labels in Japan and South America, and hopefully will be visiting those countries soon.
To purchase the new album via iTunes click here:
In the U.S.
The Automatic Process – Home Video