Earlier this month, Lifted Bells released their latest EP and first for Run for Cover Records, titled Overreactor. We spoke with singer Bob Nanna and talked about how these songs were written and where they were recorded. We also discussed the style of the songs and what some of them are about. Additionally, we conversed about how this project compares to some of Nanna’s more recognized bands like Braid and Hey Mercedes, as well as what Lifted Bells has planned for the remainder of the year. Be sure to check out a video after the interview of the band performing their song “Kingston Vale” at Live! from The Rock Room.
Bill – When did you begin writing songs for the Overreactor EP and what was that process like?
Bob – One song, “Harm,” was musically one of the first songs written by Lifted Bells in 2012 and with a different lineup, (only two original members). The other three were written over the course of 2015 with the present, stable lineup. Generally Matt Frank or Matt Jordan will bring parts or progressions of parts to practice and then we all add our own touches and help with the eventual direction. A lot happens at practice, spur of the moment.
Bill – Where did you record Overreactor and how would you describe your time in the studio?
Bob – We recorded at Matt Frank’s home studio so that gave us freedom to come in and do work on our own schedules and one-by-one knock out parts and overdubs. Very efficient! The next record we plan on recording on location, out of town.
Bill – Given that this is Lifted Bells’ third release, how do you feel it compares to the band’s previous material?
Bob – I feel like it’s a logical progression of figuring out what works and how to function as a band. They are all just precursors and introductions for the eventual full-length.
Bill – How did you end up partnering with Run for Cover Records for the release of the EP? What are you looking forward to about working with them?
Bob – We got in contact with Run for Cover through friends of friends. That’s sort of how it always works. We were excited when they said they wanted to do the record and for us, it helped knowing that we’d have an established label ready to back us and have the records from the get go.
Bill – “Prodigal” is a uniquely crafted song that is somewhat built around an intricate, distinctive guitar lead. What inspired this song’s creation?
Bob – That guitar lead was a part that Matt Jordan brought to practice. Because it has this backbone of short bursts, I decided to begin the song with question fragments. Like any Lifted Bells song, we like intricacy but it can’t just be complex for complexity’s sake. It still has to have some pop sensibility, so that’s where I try to step in.
Bill – “Kingston Vale” is a powerful and immediate song that kind of deals with getting over past mistakes. How did this particular song come together?
Bob – This one was Matt Frank. Lyrically, it’s more about learning to not repeat past mistakes or realizing that sometimes when things don’t go your way, it’s a good thing. We all make odd decisions, so since we’re all the same, let’s talk about it.
Bill – When you go back and listen to Overreactor now, what do you like best about how it turned out?
Bob – I like the cohesion of it and also its no-nonsense attitude. I’ve always been a fan of getting to the point, musically speaking.
Bill – Compared to some of your more established bands like Braid or Hey Mercedes, how would you describe Lifted Bells to someone who has yet to hear this project?
Bob – It’s very different musically because everyone other than myself in Lifted Bells is crazy talented at their instruments. I can’t play guitar or drums like that. But one thing I can do is try to make sense of complex song structures, and give the song some form and melody that I hope most people can understand and enjoy.
Bill – You guys recently played the Do Division Street Fest. What were some of the highlights from that show?
Bob – I love going to all of the Chicago street fests, so it was a blast to be able to play one of them. I love that people can see the band for free and eat a deep-fried Oreo if they so choose, while they do it.
Bill – Tell me about the band’s recent session at Live! from The Rock Room.
Bob – It was super fun! Mike Felumlee is an old friend so when he told us about his new podcast/project, we were 100% onboard. It’s a great setup down in his basement. Great camera angles, great sound. He’s got something special there.
Bill – What else does Lifted Bells have planned for 2016?
Bob – We have almost two thirds of the album written, so we’re going to finish it up. We’ll do a few shows here and there, but nothing major until next year. Thanks!