Jeremy Wrenn has made music as Airiel for twenty years now, crafting songs that are dense, intense and blissful, with electronic and live drums, synths, plenty of textured guitars and his yearning and comforting vocals. Along with several EP’s and singles, they released The Battle of Sealand, their debut full-length in 2007 on Highwheel Records, followed by the perfection of the Kid Games EP in 2012. With new full-length Molten Young Lovers Wrenn once again takes the band route, this time with a rawer sound, evolving the Airiel mystique while still keeping things wistful yet uplifting and often very romantic.
Hi Jeremy. First off, great album! Why did it take ten years for a new full-length album? Kid Games was perfect by the way, but that was five years ago…
We went through several lineup changes after The Battle of Sealand was released. The songs for Molten Young Lovers needed time to cook. We went into the studio a bit too early at first. The songs just weren’t ready and collectively as a band, it wasn’t the right time to record them. I think we recorded this album three times.
Who performs on MYL and what did they contribute in their talent and personalities to the Airiel sound?
Andrew (Marrah, guitars, synthesizers) and I played everything but the drum kit, really. Spencer (Kiss, drums, synthesizers) added a bunch of great synth tracks – too many, actually. We had to scale them back. They were really beautiful but we just couldn’t make them all fit. This was my first time playing Bass VI since RI, from the Winks & Kisses: Dizzy EP. I had a hell of a time getting that solo right after playing guitar so much. My hands don’t get used to playing bass well. Not sure what my favorite song is. Maybe You Sweet Talker. We were lucky to have our friend DUVV swing by and record a vocal track while she was in Chicago to record her own stuff. It’s a nice little moment to have her voice show up. She interviewed us when were in NY on tour for Kid Games.
Your first full length The Battle of Sealand was also a group effort. What have you learned about yourself and working with others that led you to do it again for Molten Young Lovers?
The most important thing since then is that I’ve learned not to compromise so much with the song writing. I surrendered too much control and I regret doing that. I absolutely love every song on MYL and I can’t say that about Sealand at all. I don’t care that this album took a long time to come out. It just wasn’t ready until now. Andrew has been in the band now since 2009 or so and it’s been a better band because of that. We’ve had lots of lineup changes over the years, to the point where I’m used to it, but I think the core sound has managed to stay consistent without getting boring. Some bands evolve and play none of the instruments that they did when they started out, and some just stick to a formula that works. Lyrics are still the hardest thing for me to write, and that has almost always been the case. It takes me forever to be happy with what I’m singing and I had a very hard time finishing the lyrics on a lot of these songs. Despite that, I love (every) song on this album.
What new technologies have you used for the new songs and how does it help or improve the Airiel sound?
There wasn’t anything crazy about how we recorded this. I haven’t changed my pedal board much over the last few years, so really we were just doing the same old thing, just with new songs.
Who produced, mixed and mastered the album? What did they do to make Airiel sound that much better?
Adam Stilson recorded every version of this album, which started years ago. I think we recorded in five different studios, some of which were his and some where he was working as an in-house engineer. Three of those five studios are now gone, sadly. Adam and Andrew did all of the mixing. I have to stay away during that phase until it’s my turn to listen. I have no knack for isolating frequencies or getting the perfect reverb on a drum mic, so I just end up getting on people’s nerves. Mastering was done by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering.
What is it about the Airiel sound that reflects your personality? I’m an introvert and your music makes me feel like the world is a better place for having you in it, doing what you do.
That’s nice of you to say so. I’ve been doing Airiel for 20 years now and it’s just what I do.
Airiel‘s Molten Young Lovers is out October 13, 2017 on limited edition white vinyl and digital download via Shelflife Records. Every song is amazing and well worth the wait.
(by Bret Miller)