Pop. 1280 have returned with their first new album in three years - the icy, pulsing Way Station will be released December 6th on Weyrd Son Records. The album’s first single, “Under Duress,” is bleak and brooding and a perfect snapshot into the apocalyptic sounds that await on Way Station.
The band comments:
"'Under Duress' started out as just a drumbeat that sounded like it had a song inside of it. We layered synthesizers and samples onto it and took it into the studio. There was an
upright piano there, and spontaneously we decided to play that on the intro and throughout the song and it affected the mood incredibly. The swells of analog synth and samples that bounce
off each other like waves after the choruses really affect us and are very satisfying to play live.
Lyrically, this song is very open to interpretation, but it’s about losing people to death, empathy for them and for the other people who were close to them. It’s also about our inability to fully know another person’s experience and the frustration, comfort, guilt, and hopelessness that this can create. This feeling can even extend to how humans seem to look at huge issues that affect all of us. There’s hurting and empathy, but then a feeling of hopelessness and an inability to grasp the vastness of our problems. The car crash in the song was a real event, but stands as a symbol for that moment that changes everything, and we show up on the scene later to try to figure out what happened and how to move forward.”
Way Station’s genesis took Pop. 1280 back to when they were putting the finishing touches on their third LP, Paradise (Sacred Bones, 2016). After they’d finished mixing the record, they
received news that their drummer/friend, Andrew Chugg, was leaving the band. Pop. 1280 continued on their tour cycle promoting Paradise but scrambled with fill-in percussionists across the
globe at the end of 2016.
Returning to New York, hungry to write new songs, the band decided to rethink their musical model. "We spent months taking the band apart and putting it back together using drum machines and samplers. Just as momentum seemed to picking up, we found out that our synth player of five years, Allegra Sauvage, was moving cross country never to return. People get to move on in their lives with no ill will harbored, but we were left suddenly alone on the shore of a stange island."
Their weekly band practice nights became sampling sessions, the exploration of new and disorienting sounds that they could adapt to their new confinement. The simplicity of the duo led to an
aesthetic of minimalism, and they could figure out how to perform the songs live later. Now was about expunging their systems of the creative virus. The door began to creak open when Matthew Hord
(Running, Chicago) moved to New York last year and the band discovered he knew more about analog synth hardware than anyone they'’d worked with before in Pop.1280.
Lyrically, Pop.1280 plumbed the deepest depths of their inner selves and also allowed themselves to translate those painful and fearful themes to new extremes of purpose on Way Station. Themes emerged without coaxing: the idea of transition and the image of people abandoning a cause to go set out and find their own way; the idea of personal space and the need for community; death and the aging of people around us; and both personal loss and the greater threats to people at large. The semi-certain end to the human moment on this planet was on our minds. Water rising, birds, car crashes all ended up in multiple songs without a conversation between them.
'We can’t explain this phenomenon because we don’t know ourselves what happened. We just notice the patterns. With the tools finally at our disposal, we threw the product aside to explore the factory that created it, the origins of human nature that propel us, free of self indulgence.’