A Sound-Check Chat With Eternal Summers

Though they’ve been favoring the road for the past year in support of Correct Behavior, that ballet of beautifully choreographed noise of a sophomore record they put out in the middle of 2012, Eternal Summers are looking forward to keeping that up for the foreseeable future—and it’s because they’ve got a brand new record that they haven’t even named yet and that they’re dying to share with you live and in the flesh.

Currently on tour with The Presidents of the United States of America (of “Lump” and “Peaches” fame) and previous show mates to Nada Surf, Eternal Summers have been perfecting the art of the uplifting rock song in good company as they hit some major milestones in between records. With Correct Behavior, Nicole Yun and Daniel Cundiff expanded their endeavor to include bassist Jonathan Woods, and they enlisted the help of Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes when it came to mixing the final product. Now, they’re putting the final touches on its to-be-titled follow-up with Doug Gillard of Guided by Voices, making this the first time they’ve ever worked with a producer.

I feel like Correct Behavior hadn’t been out too long when we were like, let’s start thinking about our next record,” says Yun. “Honestly, we waited nine months for Correct Behavior to come out. It was like a literal baby; there was a gestation period. There was some overlap time there. It’s not that soon for us to put out another album, even though release date-wise it looks like that. I feel like we’re always thinking about the next record.” Before taking the stage at Irving Plaza last night, Eternal Summers brought us up to speed on big changes afoot for the Roanoke, Virginia-based indie power trio—and bigger, bolder moves we’ll get to hear long before this album’s got a title.

Welcome back to New York, guys! You’re no strangers to the road. When you’re opening for someone like this with such an established fan base, how is that for you? Does this feel like rock school every night?
Nicole Yun:
With The Presidents of the United States of America, they play their self-titled album front-to-back, which has “Lump” and “Peaches” on it. The second the first chord drops, people just go insane and jump around. Late 30-year-old people moshing … it’s awesome. (laughs)
Daniel Cundiff: No matter who you’re playing with, hopefully you’ll learn something from them that you can benefit from and understand how to perform. They’re definitely a different band than us—and at the same time, they’re great performers and great musicians, too. We did a tour with Nada Surf not long ago, and it was the same thing where we were with a band that’s been around for twenty years. It’s really inspiring that they’re not just doing the same set every night. They’re all great, and great musicians.

NY: I think also, it’s clear that these are both bands—Nada Surf and The Presidents of the United States of America—that are so involved with the fans. It’s like, they’re always doing special stuff to meet their fans and do something above and beyond. There’s so much energy! They don’t just play a show and that’s it; they do meet-and-greets and play special acoustic songs after the show is over for whoever’s left. It’s definitely inspiring to see people who work so hard in every aspect. It’s definitely like going to rock school, for sure.

I think the timeless nature of Correct Behavior—especially considering it’s barreling chord progressions in 4/4 time and the hooks that go along with them—makes a lot of sense on a bill with The Presidents of the United States of America and Nada Surf. Y’all love guitars! (laughs) How has this leg of the tour in particular breathed new life into these songs?
For me, it’s about being as tight with it as we can be. We’re playing so many new songs off of what will be our third album on this tour.
NY: It’s a bit of a transitional tour for us. We’re trying to play what we consider the most memorable songs on Correct Behavior, but we’re trying out new material. I think it’s uncomfortable to do that on this tour, as opposed to a small tour by ourselves. I think it’s really fun to test it out on random people. As far as the older stuff, it changes because it’s definitely more dynamic. When you play a song so much, the nuances come out, as far as how to make it more gentle or driving at certain parts. It’s definitely more fun to play now because we know it so well, so we can just let the chemistry of the three of us take control and read each other and just play it how we want.

What’s an aspect of Correct Behavior that you’re looking to embrace or replicate on future releases?
I don’t think we ever think about direction; it just kind of happens organically. What happened on Correct Behavior, the songs that are rock songs, we’re still doing those rock songs but they’re even more defined as rock songs. The really pretty, soft delicate songs are even more soft and delicate. Everything is just becoming more defined I guess. It’s dreamier; it’s more rocking.
Jonathan Woods: I think we were more confident in doing those things than we were on that record. Some of the new songs, there’s one called “Windows” that’s been really good live—that and “Never Enough.”
NY: The last record was the scariest jump. We went from a two-piece to a three-piece, and we went from a homespun production to having outsiders involved. This next record, I’m excited to be like, “Okay, we’ve made all the jumps we’ve wanted to make. Let’s feel comfortable enough to express what we want and not feel like anything’s holding us back.” I think this next record is going to rock.

Do you have a name for the new record yet?
We’ll unleash the beast soon, I guess. Unleash the Beast! There’s a name!
JW: What was the one we came up with the other day? Savage? Savage? But in French?
NY: We met up with the guy who was going to mix our album, and he was like, “What are the themes of the album?” and I said, “Well, savageness, but, like, struggle that’s … good?” “Say all that in French and you’ve got a record.” I was like, “I don’t know man! I don’t know if we’re that band.”

I know that you worked with Sune Rose from The Raveonettes on Correct Behavior, and you mentioned the transition you made between working on your music entirely on your own and bringing other people into your creative process. What did you take away from that experience? What was it like, bringing people in on your creative endeavor? 
As hard as it is to give up control, you just have to trust yourself. No matter what, this is a record that I know we did a good job on. I’m not going to let this album come out if I’m not proud of it. Therefore, when we work with other people, we can be like, “Cool! They’ve got talents and the cumulative product is going to be awesome!” it’s just using everyone’s talents in the best way. I felt like we were a lot more open with this next record. 

The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner on Batali, Beatrice, & Bono

Sune Rose Wagner, the raven-haired member of Danish rock duo The Raveonettes, was without his blonde songbird Sharon Foo when he called the BlackBook offices for a chat. Having released their last LP Lust, Lust, Lust, over a year ago, Wagner didn’t have much to promote save for a slew of upcoming performances including a show this Friday at Webster Hall. Instead we talked about Jack Kerouac tattoos and Helena Christensen dinner parties. You know, the usual.

When you were in elementary school, what did you want to be when you grow up? A tennis player. I was a semi-professional tennis player for awhile.

Do you have any tattoos? Yea, I have two. I have a picture of Jack Kerouac, and then I have a small little anchor.

Why did you get Jack Kerouac? I used to enjoy his books tremendously, and there was a certain restlessness and energy in his books that I liked when I was younger, and that’s when I decided to travel a lot.

Are you superstitious? I am, yeah.

Can you give me an example? Every time I fly, I have to do this certain motion with my hand, like a cross, otherwise I think the plane is going to fall down.

Have you ever been arrested? No I haven’t been arrested, but I have been interrogated once in connection with some graffiti stuff that we got caught for in Denmark.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Teleportation. It would make traveling so much easier. I hate traveling … I can’t stand it. Well, I like driving, I don’t mind taking trips, but I hate flying. I hate going to the airport, I hate everything about it.

Have you ever been starstruck before? I’ve been starstruck many times with many different people. When I met Jay-Z I was pretty starstruck. With Q Tip I was starstruck because I love him … Bono from U2, I was pretty starstruck right there, Julianne Moore, Gwyneth Paltrow.

Where do you tend to meet these people? I met most of them at this little Christmas dinner party that Helena Christensen was throwing. Sharon and I, we went there and it was basically a lot of these people, and it was a pretty surreal experience at first, but after a while it’s not a big deal. You’re just standing in the kitchen with Bono drinking a glass of wine, and he’s just a guy.

What would you always watch that’s on TV if you’re channel surfing and you come across it? I actually don’t have TV. When we’re in hotels and stuff, I’ll watch it, but I decided not to watch it at home because I know that it’s such an easy thing to fall into, especially over here with all these channels. I mean, I miss it sometimes because I like to watch documentaries a lot, and it’s nice to have the news on, but when you have the Internet, you can pretty much do everything online anyway.

So do you spend a lot of time online? Yeah, I probably spend too much time online, like most people do. I should go out a little bit more I think, because I tend to think that the Internet is sort of my eye into the outside world, but I should just go for more walks.

Do you spend a lot of time on Facebook? No, I don’t, and I’m lucky in that way because I know other people spend way too much time on there. I don’t really use it that much, mostly for checking out events. Because there will always be friends DJing. Sometimes I use it for just catching up with people in Denmark, or anywhere else in the world, friends I don’t see that often, all of a sudden they’re online and you just chat with them.

What are some of the places in New York that you like to go out to either party or eat? I have a lot of favorite restaurants here. This town is so good for food. I like Mario Batali’s restaurants a lot, I go there all the time, to Lupa or Casa Mono or Babbo, and I like the French bistro style of eating, so I’ll go to Balthazar. And sometimes I’ll go to a place called Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar in the East Village; it’s a very nice little place to sit and eat … they make the food right in front of you. There’s a little Spanish place on the corner of where I live called Tía Pol, which is a little tapas bar. They have good wine there.

What is it about Batali’s food that you like? I like the simplicity of it. It’s just really a simple, almost rustic kind of food, and it’s incredibly tasty.

What kind of nightlife do you have in New York? I don’t have that much of a nightlife. I like to go restaurants a lot, and we’re party smokers, so if we go out, we need to find places where we can smoke, and unfortunately there are not a lot of those places left. So we’ll go to a bar called Motor City for instance … they’ll let you smoke there usually. Yesterday we went to Lit. I was DJing at the Glasvegas after party.

And what about the Beatrice Inn? You can smoke in there too. The Beatrice Inn … I go there a lot and you’re right, it’s good for smoking. So I mean, there’s some places you can find, but I don’t really explore a lot of new places, and I don’t go to clubs or anything like that.