Smile Politely

Headlights swing through town en route to Austin

Local stalwarts Headlights are playing at the Canopy Club (with Pomegranates and World’s First Flying Machine) tomorrow night before they head to South by Southwest next week. It’s a 10 p.m. show, and tickets are $7 in advance.

Singer and keyboardist Erin Fein spoke to us by phone yesterday, as the band traveled from Milwaukee to Chicago.

Smile Politely: You guys are going to be at South by Southwest next week, right?

Erin Fein: Yeah, we’re going to be there for three days.

SP: Is this your first time down there?

EF: This will be number four.

SP: What’s that like, as a band?

EF: It’s pretty busy. I think it’s probably more fun to go there as a fan, because it’s kind of a clusterfuck. But we really enjoy playing. We like playing the Polyvinyl showcase because it’s a really good show, and there’s usually a lot of drinking, all day and all night, and barbeque, so you really can’t go wrong.

SP: Do you play multiple sets, or how does it work?

EF: Bands usually get booked to play different showcases, and for parties for different magazines that support and promote music, so we usually just ride around from one show to the next, sweating the whole experience.

SP: Sounds like fun.

EF: Yeah, it’s fun. Hot, dirty fun.

SP: Can’t have that kind of fun at this time of year up here.

EF: No, it’s strange, we were in Milwaukee last night and it was so, so bitterly cold and it’s hard to imagine that I’ll be in Austin and I’ll be wearing a skirt and a t-shirt and I’ll still be hot.

SP: Are you guys at the tail end of a long tour, or just a short jaunt?

EF: This is just a 10-day tour, and then we have five days off, when we’ll actually be wrapping up our record that we’ve been working on for three months. Then after those five days are up, we’re heading out for three weeks. We’re going to do the west coast and the east coast. So it’s the beginning of a month-long jump.

SP: What’s it like to come back to C-U for just a day? Does that happen often, that you’d tour through here without staying any extra time?

EF: Sometimes. It’s definitely happened before because we’ll get some shows in the area and then swing home to play a show. It’s a little weird to be home for just one night when you’re already in tour mode. But I guess it’s kind of nice to get to sleep in your own bed.

SP: What’s different about playing in your hometown, compared to playing in nearby cities?

EF: I think when you play in your hometown, it’s tense because every person you know is there, and you want to talk to everybody, and you also have to try to focus and play well. So, it’s kind of an intense social experience when you have a lot of friends around. But it’s really great to play for people you care about.

SP: Do you have a release date for the new album?

EF: It’ll be out August 18th of this year. We’re excited about it.

SP: Does it have a title yet?

EF: It doesn’t have a title yet. We’re bouncing some ideas around right now, but nothing solid yet. We’re trying to think of something that means something and fits. It’s a tricky thing to come up with. Hopefully we’ll come up with something good. It’s an interesting way to sum up what your songs mean and where you’re at as a band. We always try to take a long time and make a choice that reflects where we’re at at the time.

SP: How would you describe the batch of new songs? Is it a departure from what you’ve done in the past?

EF: I think it’s darker, perhaps. It’s definitely got a lot of highs and lows; it’s a pretty dynamic record. We tried to capture more of our live energy. We did a lot of live recordings to get some of that live feel that we hadn’t got in some of our recordings. So hopefully that will come across, because it was something that we were really wanting. I think we’re the kind of band where the songs and the band are always evolving. We definitely try not to put out the same album every time. It’s so hard to have perspective on your own music, though.

SP: I would think that would be hard to describe.

EF: I think it’s a departure, but who knows?

SP: I was just listening to the folk song that you guys recorded that was on your website (“Come All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies“), and it’s really cool.

EF: Thanks, we really enjoyed that. Again, something different that we enjoyed doing.

SP: I’m sure it’s hard to come up with something new and different all the time.

EF: I think you just kind of write and see what comes out. You may have some idea of what you want, but inevitably you don’t get exactly that, and that’s the beauty of recording, I guess.

SP: Are you recording it in your house again?

EF: Yeah, we don’t live in the farmhouse any more, but we recorded most of the record in our house, and we did some “magic keyboard day” in Pogo Studio. That’s what we like to call it, “magic keyboard day.”

SP: That’s about all the questions I had. Anything you wanted to say to the folks in Champaign-Urbana?

EF: We love you!

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