INTERVIEW BY JOE FITZPATRICK
PHOTOS PROVIDED BY JACK HUBBELL AND JOHN MCCAULEY
Not many musicians can transport their listeners to a trance-like state of peace and harmony like the Alexandria, Va. group LENCLAIR achieves with each track on both their debut self-titled LP and sophomore EP Serocybis, which they just released in February 2015. The project takes on many forms for vocalist, guitarist, percussionist, and occasionally bassist Jack Hubbell, whom is the driving-force behind the band, with support from longtime friends vocalist and guitarist Hannah Andres, as well as Jason Tyler, who also contributed vocals and guitar parts to the latest album. Though you don’t have to be high on a substance to enjoy this record, the band says it may improve your experience. We connected with Hubbell to discuss the themes of Serocybis and his personal, and at times obsessive, relations to their new songs, as well as how the dynamics of their band are changing.
Can you tell me what Serocybis means, and why you decided to call it that?
I feel like there’s a lot of personal meaning within each of these songs, but the album title just sounded cool — there isn’t much depth there. No cool secret meaning or anything. I needed a name for the title track that wasn’t “The Dream” or “Henri Rousseau.” I wrote and mixed most of Serocybis with a giant picture book open on my desk. I was obsessed with Le Douanier for a couple weeks; the whole intention was to capture the mood of his paintings with music. I liked the sound of serotonin, and the jelly fish resemble mushrooms, you know, psilocybin; it just fit. I have a problem with obsessing and over-analyzing things to the point where nothing gets done, so whenever Hannah or Jason approve of something, I roll with it.
How do your performances translate to your recordings, and how do you make it work?
Our original lineup was Jason, Hannah and I. The debut album is very true to our live performance at the time. Jason moved to Richmond, Va. shortly after the release, and it became more of an obsessive solo project for me. When we did our first east coast tour, we had this extremely confusing system where I would play tracks off my phone through a stereo splitter into a small mixer. We would wear these big goofy headphones, and each track had a metronome panned hard left and a mono mix of the additional instruments panned hard right. This way, we could have a metronome in our headphones and play the backing tracks through the venue’s P.A. Confusing, right? That’s why we eventually got lazy and ditched it.
Have you considered expanding to a more full lineup of four or five members?
Actually, yes. I’ve been teaching a full band all of the new songs and some old things. We’re playing our first show with the new lineup on March 28. It’s some rooftop radio session for [the University of Maryland].
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This record was produced, recorded, and mixed by Jack at Telescope Studio from January to February 2015. Why did you decide to work with him?
Jack Hubbell, that’s me. Telescope Studio is just what a few friends call my pathetic little basement studio (The Hubble telescope? Get it?) Serocybis was all recorded at home in about two weeks; it took another two weeks for Hannah to show up and record her parts. By the time she learned the songs and sang about 95 percent of the album, [it] was already finished. Then, for some reason, we asked Jason to record a song, and that took another two weeks. Jason recorded “Atë (the Buildings)” in his dorm and sent me something like 400 tracks via Google Drive. Hannah wrote “She Ran the Tide” last spring; both of those tracks were finished last.
One of my personal favorite tracks on the album is your cover “Memory No. 7” by LOWTIDE. Can you tell me what that song is about?
”Memory No. 7″ always meant a lot to Hannah, Jason, and I; we heard it for the first time on our way back from this studio in Maryland where we mastered the self-titled album. We listened to it nonstop on tour. I think covering it was this sort of unspoken mutual agreement. But you know, it’s funny, I have no clue what the song is actually about. We don’t even know the lyrics. We had to listen to it and guess what they were saying.
Can you tell me about the jellyfish on the album art and why you chose to go with this design?
Our friend Adrie drew that. We didn’t specify what we wanted. We just sent her a few tracks, so she did the picture while listening to “Thief!” and “Serocybis.” It’s beautiful, but I honestly had no part in creating it. I definitely want her to artwork for our future albums. She’s a talented artist and a wonderful person.
Are there any other dream pop bands from Virginia or Washington, D.C. more people need to hear?
As far as dream pop goes, I’m not sure what else there is, or at least what people “need” to hear. I’m not very hip; I don’t listen to a lot of recent music. KID CLAWS is awesome; I don’t think they have any recordings though, sadly. I’m in this band, A MARC TRAIN HOME; we’re dream pop but a little more hi-fi and commercial. I love THE DUSKWHALES; they’re like vanilla fudge with clinical depression…like THE MONKEES fronted by Robert Smith. I had the honor of recording demos for them; hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to produce or at least work on their next album.
For more updates on LENCLAIR, be sure to “like” their Facebook page, and check out Serocybis on Bandcamp.