Erik Johnson

Basement Tapes: Local indie band Pompeii talks new album, recording process

Pompeii is an Austin-based band, best known for their detailed ambient rock sound. The band started in 2004 and has been touring for the past five years.
Pompeii is an Austin-based band, best known for their detailed ambient rock sound. The band started in 2004 and has been touring for the past five years.

Editor’s note: Basement Tapes is a multimedia music blog series in which each week the Texan brings in independent artists to perform and interview. Check out Culture Spotlight every Friday for new content.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if the atmospheric melodies of local indie band Pompeii and the gentle tenor of its lead singer Dean Stafford played as the soundtrack to an indie romcom. The fusion of the band’s heartfelt, pensive lyrics and soft-rock sound is made for love-confessing kissing scenes. However, this is not to say it is a sentimental band.

Soon after its debut in 2004, Pompeii gained international attention for its detailed compositions. From every song’s title to each guitar peak, Pompeii humbly prides itself on its meticulousness. And since the European tour of its sophomore album, Nothing Happens For A Reason, released in 2008, the band has started the recording process of its next album, not hurrying to precisely lay out each beat.

The band will perform on the outside stage of Emo’s for Wild Frontier Fest on Saturday, and fans have an opportunity to win a spot on the band’s guest list by following its Twitter account and answering a trivia question on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The Daily Texan interviewed singer-guitarist Stafford, guitarist Erik Johnson, bassist Colin Butler and drummer Rob Davidson during Basement Tapes about taking it slow in recording their third album, their recording process and breaking out of their comfort zone.

The Daily Texan: It’s been about two years since your last album, and that was supposed to come out this spring, correct?
Dean Stafford: No, we thought maybe it would be done by then, but everything has to happen organically ... since our last record, we’ve had 30-plus ideas that we’ve just been jamming over the course. Now we have the gist of most of those ideas that we like, and we’re going to keep continuing to shape those, so we’re still a ways away.

DT: What are some of those ideas?
Erik Johnson: Like Dean said, we just notice that [the songs] weren’t turning out the way that we wanted them to so we keep reinventing them over and over. I guess the idea is trying to get away from what we’ve done before on the previous albums.
Stafford: We’re trying to be less mature on this album. [laughs]
Rob Davidson: It’s also an issue of sinking into a comfort zone of a formula for songwriting, and we’re trying to flip that.
Colin Butler: We’ve all played together for so long that we have a comfort zone established, so we are trying to break out of that. Also, in the past, we had deadlines that we had to meet and this time around, we don’t have that, so we’re kind of free to take our time and to make things exactly how we want it.

DT: I noticed that you guys are very meticulous and detail-oriented, so do you have any set expectations for this next album?
Stafford: My expectations, I think all of our expectations are ... we really want to make songs that aren’t just good but that surprise ourselves and push ourselves further to make really great songs. In terms of making the songs big, all that kind of stuff, I think it is less like that for me personally now. We’ve been a band since like 2004. It had just come to a full circle for me where I don’t really care about the periphery or the expectations in terms of making ourselves looking like badasses. It’s more about us wanting to make great songs, and that can be really frustrating for us because we can be really meticulous at times, and it can get really annoying sometimes. [laughs] But we want this to be the greatest thing we’ve ever done.
Johnson: A lot of times, we just get together and start jamming. We each come up with our own ideas for the songs, and then, after Dead throws in the lyrics, we get a feel to the song and mood to the album. When we first started, I don’t think we had anything in mind. It just came together.

Printed on Friday, September 2, 2011 as: Local indie band to perform at Emo's.

California's Austin Booker, right, is caught stealing second base by Virginia's second baseman Keith Werman, in the third inning of a College World Series game in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. — John Hicks’ RBI single in the seventh inning broke a scoreless tie and Virginia went on to defeat California 4-1 at the College World Series on Sunday.

Virginia ace Danny Hultzen and Tyler Wilson were within an out of combining for the first CWS shutout in five years before Chad Bunting hit a run-scoring single over shortstop with two outs in the ninth inning.

Hicks’ one-out base hit into center ended the longest scoreless CWS game in 24 years, and Steve Proscia followed with a sacrifice fly.

The No. 1 seed Cavaliers (55-10) move to a Bracket 2 winners’ game on Tuesday night, where they will face South Carolina.

Cal (37-22) meets Texas A&M Tuesday.

Hultzen, the No. 2 overall draft pick by the Seattle Mariners, allowed three hits over 6 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out six. Wilson (9-0) got the win and Branden Kline recorded the last out for his 18th save.

Logan Scott (1-2) took the loss in relief of Erik Johnson, who struggled for a third straight start.

Virginia was 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position through six scoreless innings.

The Cavaliers finally broke through after No. 9 hitter Keith Werman singled leading off the seventh and Chris Taylor walked, chasing Scott and bringing on closer Matt Flemer.

After John Barr moved the runners over with a sacrifice, Hicks sent a liner into center to score Werman before Proscia’s sacrifice fly.

Virginia added to the lead in the eighth on Jared King’s RBI triple and Werman’s run-scoring single.

Cal finished sixth in the Pac-10 and was a surprise CWS qualifier after the school administration threatened to drop the program next year. A $9 million fundraising effort saved the program.

Virginia is trying to win the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first national title in baseball since Wake Forest 56 years ago.

The Bears extended their at-bats against Hultzen, with six of their first 15 batters requiring six or more pitches.

Hultzen’s pitch count was deep into the 60s by the third inning, and he was out of the game in the seventh after his 113th pitch.

Wilson, used primarily as a starter this season, kept the shutout going until the ninth.

Cal’s Erik Johnson, tagged for 12 earned runs in 11 1-3 previous innings in the national tournament, struggled with his command and left after issuing his fourth and fifth walks to start the fourth inning.

Virginia threatened early, but couldn’t crack Cal. The Cavaliers had runners at the corners in the third when Cal first baseman Devon Rodriguez fielded a grounder and threw home, and catcher Chadd Krist ran Chris Taylor back down the third-base line and tagged him out.

In the fifth the Cavaliers had runners on first and second with one out, but Proscia and Hultzen flew out to left, with Austin Booker making a great running catch on Hultzen’s drive.

California was just 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position.