With a dense sonic layer comes layers upon layers to unravel in the newest Lume release. Wrung Out — out today via Equal Vision Records — finds the group sounding their finest; with the opening self-titled track setting the stage early. A tasteful amount of dissonance lines the track’s pounding progression. Immediately into “Keep Me Under” the piercing trudge continues with a confident tremble, sounding like a foundation beginning to crumble. Each segment of the track finds a new umbrella of melodies to unearth, keeping the booming presence rich with decadence.
Lume’s strengths are the slow burning hazy atmospheres with swirling dynamics mixed in. At times the track’s shape into a hypnotic wave, much like “Gaze.” The drums begin to syncopate into a thematically driving pace, keeping the head and song moving in a steady nod. The poise of Wrung Out stands tall in tracks like “Loss Leader” and “Unending.” The latter track is an emotional closer to the behemoth that is this record. The song’s motif of not being able to feel or hear is delicately placed in a track that expands the group’s sound with such grace. New Noise Magazine is beyond happy to bring forth the explorative track by track of Wrung Out by Dan Butler of Chicago’s Lume.
Purchase Wrung Out here
“Wrung Out” is actually a pretty old song. I think we’ve been playing some form of it for a few years now. We’ve always loved it as a live song because it opens with this huge fuzzed-out half step, and then tightens-up. It always seems to grab people’s attention, and it’s just really fun to play. We recorded it during our first session for what would become this record, and at first we weren’t really feeling it as a recorded song. I think it’s just because we’d gotten so used to playing it live and were having a hard time capturing the vibe. But, after some tweaking and persuasion from our producer and others that were listening in on the session, we came around and put it on the record, and made it the title track. I’m glad we did because I feel like it pulls you right in, no-nonsense style and just introduces you to what we’re doing.
Keep Me Under
For a while, when we were really burying ourselves in the writing of this record, we were trying all kinds of different writing techniques, just to get ourselves into slightly different headspaces. We’re inherently a pretty loud band, so one of the things we tried was to just barely turn our amps up and see what type of sonic space we could create with as little as possible. The base of “Keep Me Under” is that 6/8 rim click drum beat overlaid with pretty sparse guitar and bass. Obviously it gets more intense as we go, but we wanted to play more with the rhythm and the empty spaces than anything else. Lyrically, although the music is fairly dark sounding, the idea revolves around trying to maintain positivity and not look at things in a negative light. Sometimes being a pessimist can be a coping mechanism, and it feels good and right in the moment, but in the long run, it doesn’t do much for your quality of life.
“Gaze” is another track that’s really centered around the rhythm, particularly the drum beat and how it plays with that churning, almost mechanical-sounding guitar riff. Small things, like how Austin doesn’t flip his snare on until halfway through the first verse, have a pretty big effect on the overall sound. Although constantly changing, we wanted this song to have an inherent beat, that even if it’s not actually playing, you feel like you can hear it throughout the whole song.
I wrote the base idea of “Loss Leader” on an acoustic guitar in the back of our van somewhere on the west coast before our second recording session for Wrung Out. When we got home, we fleshed it out into basically what it is today. Once we took it to the studio, it really became it’s own beast with some additional slide guitar parts by our friend Johnny Dang and some great production by Mike Watts. The lyrical content of the song deals mainly with the social climate we’re currently in. Communication is at an all-time high with social media, yet it feels like no one is really understanding eachother. It becomes really easy to close yourself into a feedback loop where you’re only surrounded with the ideas of likeminded people.
“Unglued” is collectively our favorite song on the record, and possibly our favorite Lume song in general. I really feel like this song truly represents the “sound in our head” and is the ideal example of us in our most natural form. Musically, things like the shuffle beat and kind of floating, yet dark guitar parts instantly put me in a certain mood, and when we play this song live, it really lends itself to improvisation, whereas a lot of our other songs rely on us hitting hard and true to a certain version. We don’t play this song wildly different from the recording live, but we never play it the same way twice. I think that also stems from the strong emotional connection we have to this song. It’s all about a good friend of ours who committed suicide in late 2016, and specifically the feelings I was engulfed in that night as I made the drive from Chicago to our hometown in Michigan for the funeral.
When we first wrote this song, our intention was to have it be the first song on the record. The way the guitar riff opens, then the drums come in is kind of an homage to the opening track of our last record, basically saying “it’s still us” but this new, evolved version. Once we started sequencing the record, we ended up deciding to put it in the middle, but if you listen on vinyl, it’s the opening track to Side B. “Shudder” also primarily deals with the stages of grief that surrounded that same friend’s suicide in 2016. I just remember the feeling I got when another good friend called me to tell me what happened, and the heavy silence that followed while we both just tried to process what was going on, then the months of anger and guilt that followed.
We went into the recording of “31st Street” knowing that we wanted it to sound different than everything else on the record. I played pretty much the whole song on a Strat through a Twin Reverb, which is just about the opposite of our normal sound. We just wanted to really lean into how different of a song it is for us. The contrast of how sometimes upbeat this song sounds against the really heavy lyrics has always been interesting to me. The song references another friend we lost to suicide around the same time in 2016 and deals with the impossibility of coping with your loved one taking their own life and the anger and confusion that you’re left with.
The idea for “Lean” basically stemmed from of us having a baritone guitar in our practice space for the first time. We wrote the really angular, down-tuned opening riff and loved it, and then that unfolded into the heavy, bending chorus. All-around it’s definitely a more fast, aggressive song than people are probably used to from us. The music definitely matches the idea behind the song, which is essentially about “burning the candle from both ends” and how there’s kind of a fine line between blazing your own path and careening out of control.
I think we had the idea for the end of “Already Low” before we had the beginning. We tend to free jam a lot while we’re writing, and we ended up with this really cool repetitive, droning riff that felt like it could go on forever. We combined it with some other ideas we had, and ended up with “Already Low.” Once we got to the studio, we really filled it out and had fun. Johnny threw down some really cool atmospheric guitar parts, Spencer from Big Jesus added a lot of really great harmonies and I think at one point Austin was just hitting a 2×4 which we EQ’d and turned into the churning, machine-like sound you hear weaving in and out toward the end.
From the beginning, we pretty much knew that we wanted “Unending” to close the record. This is another emotionally heavy song for us, as it’s basically written from the point of view (or what I imagine to be the point of view)of one of the close friends we lost to suicide in 2016. I tried wrapping my head around what he must have been going through, and the best way I knew how to do that was to try to put myself in his shoes. Being a pretty somber song, it really only existed as a solo piece, with just me singing and playing guitar. We tried various times to arrange it in a full band setting, and nothing was making sense. It all just seemed to take away from the intense, intimate vibe. So, we went to the studio with just the shell of a song. We rehearsed the song in the studio and let Mike Watts listen in, and he instantly vibed with the song and worked with us to tastefully bring in drums and bass in certain sections, and tweak the melody here and there. Our friend Johnny from O’Brother also added some airy, dreamy sounding guitar that really helps heighten the overall feeling right before everything drops into the dark, heavy ending.