TVD Recommends: Saintseneca at Johnny Brenda’s, 6/4

In a genre that can contain a host of similar sounding artists, Saintseneca is a breath of fresh air in the folk-rock realm. With a new album, Dark Arc released earlier this year on a new record label, Saintseneca have hit the road again to show off their new songs to cities across the country. Tonight they make their way to Fishtown for a headlining show at Johnny Brenda’s.

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Saintseneca have made a name for themselves for their relentless touring throughout the DIY scene, mirroring the paths of many punk and hardcore bands. The kind of genre-blending lineups that this has allowed reflect the way Saintseneca pull from a number of different sounds to create their own mix of rootsy and rambling folk rock. Dark Arc reveals this evolution more vividly than ever before.

Returning to the circuits that began the buzz, Saintseneca comes to the intersection of Girard Avenue and Frankford Avenue to play the local indie music staple. Countless bands who have played the small Fishtown venue have graduated to bigger stages, and it would not surprise us if Saintseneca followed in these well traveled footsteps.

As their tour begins, we chatted with multi-instrumentalist and bandleader Zac Little to discuss Dark Arc, where Saintseneca stands now, and just exactly how he feels about vinyl.

How does Saintseneca’s ever-changing lineup affect your songwriting?

For Dark Arc in particular, it created the opportunity to bring in a lot of different people I really admire to contribute to the record. The line-up was so nebulous that it was kinda like—why not have 3 drummers? Add some flute or lap steel, synth, or whatever? It was exciting to have something pushing that kind of open-mindedness.

Has the lineup changed since the recording of Dark Arc? Who is playing in the band now?

Right now we’re pretty much a mixture of Maryn Jones, Matt O’Conke, Jon Meador, Steve Ciolek, Steva Jacobs, and me. It depends on the particular tour/show.

What was it like working with Mike Mogis? What kind of influence did he have on the record?

Working with Mike was dreamy. It was awesome to take all the hard work we had done with Glenn Davis (who recorded the first complete draft of the record) and bring that to Omaha to work with Mike. I have a lot of respect for Mike’s catalogue, and had even cited his tones for previous recordings, so it was pretty surreal to work with him.

I think he really helped push the sonic spectrum of the record. He also encouraged us to branch out and try other things which made the record even more expansive. Never thought I’d be so stoked for a bass drop on one of our songs.

You’ve mentioned previously that you spent much longer writing and recording Dark Arc, compared to your previous album, Last. What kind of effect does this have in the writing and recording process?

It affords the time to execute your vision in a really complete way. You have time to reflect and then try new things or start a song over if needed. You’re not stuck with something you’re not vibing with from the beginning.

Compared to recording the previous albums, were there ever times when you felt like you were spending too much time on the album?

Not really, even though we spent so much time on this record there is still a lot of stuff that was recorded in one or two takes. The only difference is that when a song wanted to have 50 layers of overdubs, we could do it. Some songs happen in 3 minutes, and some in 3 months.

Upon it’s release Dark Arc was also pressed to vinyl. How important was it to include this as one of the ways to purchase the album?

I like vinyl, and for me there is a nice feeling of closure when you get that final thing. I would have been bummed if it wasn’t on vinyl. But I don’t think you need to have a mountain of physical things to have a meaningful encounter with music.

From an artist’s perspective, where do you see the trend of increasing vinyl sales going in the next year or two?

I don’t know… physical reproduction of sound has only existed for a little over 100 years? Now, making a purchase is no longer the required mechanism to access music. When people buy music its more of this altruistic thing, a gesture of support, not a gateway. Maybe on some metaphysical level, music just wanted to get back into the cloud where it was before? I suppose that doesn’t help Prince pay rent.

Do you personally collect records? What is your most prized possession?

I do collect records, but as someone who’s a little obsessive, I think collections are kinda dangerous for me. My favorites are a bunch of old Beatles records. I got lucky and found a bunch of original pressings at a thrift store. I love stuff, and it’s great stuff, but it’s just stuff. The quantity of things you own is probably a bad measure for what you really value.

After this tour, what’s next for Saintseneca?

Hopefully more tour!

Doors open at 8 PM and music starts at 9 PM. Three Man Cannon and Memory Map open the show. Tickets are $10 and only those 21 and older are allowed in. Sorry kiddies! For more info on the show tonight, head here.

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