See Through Dresses are bringing new life to the grungy, shoegazy sound that The Cure and My Bloody Valentine have made popular. Their new song, “Haircut,” off their new LP End of Days, is a dreamy, crunchy new single that takes everything you love about shoegaze and makes it even better. Ahead of their LP debut, we talked to the Nebraska band's primary songwriters Mathew Carroll about touring, growing up in the Midwest, and their favorite things about this record. Read the interview below while you listen to the new single on repeat. End of Days is out this fall from Tiny Engines. Pre-order it here.
Noisey: Your new album is strong, definitely a serious competitor to your first album. What did you do differently to create this album than the previous one?
Mathew Carroll: We approached the new EP with the intention of creating a more raw sound with plenty of ugliness and dirt. We wanted it to feel a little bit more like a band playing live and so we were more willing to leave in elements that make us sound more human. For example, on "Everyman" there's a moment where you can clearly hear Sara cough before the second verse. We felt that little touches like that represent the band in a more "natural" light on this release, whereas some of the sounds on the self-titled LP can be difficult to accomplish live.
How did you start writing music?
Sara Bertuldo: Growing up, I always thought I would just play guitar in a band. I had trouble finding people to play with when I was younger so I started writing songs out of necessity.
Carroll: I started playing guitar when I was nine or ten years old because my dad played guitar. I didn't really start playing in bands until I was in my early 20s and also had no experience as a vocalist before. I started writing songs for the same reasons Sara did. I was really uninspired by things that my early bands wrote and needed an outlet that was more fun and interesting, so I became a singer by default.
Every song on this album sound different, so it's difficult to pin down exactly how to describe your sound. Was that on purpose?
Bertuldo: Matt and I had written a lot more straightforward rock songs that just didn't fit in with what we wanted our next full-length to be.
Carroll: We also approached the EP as an opportunity to try different things. The title track "End of Days" is an acoustic song, which we've never done in this band. It's fun to try on a few different hats when releasing a smaller batch of songs. Helps us to prepare a more distinct vision for the next LP.
What have you taken away from touring, and have you tried to include any of that in your latest music?
Carroll: On tour you meet incredible people. You also meet very inspiring bands. The Midwest can sometimes feel extremely isolated from the rest of the country, especially if you live in a smaller town or mid-sized city. Of course, we have access to so much culture on the internet and it's easy to keep oneself updated on what's happening in music on a national level, but on a DIY level there are so many unbelievable bands that show us interesting things and make us want to be better. Whenever we get home from tour, it's easy to get back to writing because of that inspiration; our sense of purpose is recharged.
How do you think being from the Midwest shaped your sound?
Carroll: It's hard to say how the Midwest shapes our sound. Often on the road people identify Omaha as the sound of Saddle Creek Records, and it's not uncommon for people to ask us about Conor Oberst and Tim Kasher, or for them to expect See Through Dresses to sound like Bright Eyes. This of course is amusing to us because Saddle Creek Records has had such a diverse roster over the years, and in no way has pigeonholed its artists into sounding like one particular thing, so really the "sound of Saddle Creek" doesn't register in my mind as a real thing, and in the same way I don't hear any particular "Midwestern" touch when I listen to bands like Digital Leather, Staffers, or Noah's Ark Was a Spaceship. However, it's hard to escape the expectation that when someone finds out we're from Omaha we might perform a folk set. So I suppose on some level we are constantly reacting against those expectations, both because we don't want to rip off our local heroes and because we are inspired by lots of other styles of music that was made in different parts of the world. More loosely, I can say that things like the desolation of the plains can inspire us, or the loneliness of holding liberal values in a red state. I suppose when other people hear our stuff they can probably perceive better than we can how the Midwest shapes our sound.
Annalise Domenighini wishes it was the 90s. Follow her on Twitter.