Interview: The Sandwitches

The Sandwitches - Photo by Aaron Paul

The Sandwitches - Photo by Aaron Paul

The Sandwitches are something of an aural delight. Channeling a 60s-inspired sound that is equal parts minimalist, melodic and melancholy, the San Francisco-based band – consisting of guitarists and vocalists Heidi Alexander and Grace Cooper and drummer Roxanne Brodeur – performs music that is all at once nostaglia-inducing and refreshingly innovative.

Since forming in 2008, the trio has come out with a debut LP, “How to Make Ambient Sadcake,” three seven-inches, and a 12-inch, and has appeared on compilations as well.

Additionally, a two-song seven-inch record, The Pearl, came out earlier this month, a follow-up to the band’s successful second full-length, Mrs. Jones’ Cookies, also released this year.

Although the track record of releases indicates that putting out songs is a relatively easy process for the three, the members admitted that there are always perfectionist tendencies and moments of insecurity involved.

“Not a day of recording for our albums had passed without the inevitable night of at least a little panic,” they said. “If it’s bad we’ll try to fix things best we can, if we can. We usually end up liking it, usually after the inner agitation [passes].”

However, the natural inclination to worry is merely an extension of songwriting, as writing and recording with any sort of below-the-surface depth involves a certain amount of built-in vulnerability.

“Our songs are pretty much always personal material,” they said, pointing to love in particular as a regular inspiration. “[And] sometimes it’s us just trying to paint a picture of our most unpleasant feelings, and where they may have come from.”

Of course, playing those songs live can change the way the members feel about or toward them, with older songs being more likely to wear on the members.

“Some songs we’ve definitely played to their end,” they said. “There are a few that we just don’t ever play anymore cause we can’t stand it, but most of them we can handle after a bit of a break from them. It helps having new songs; they make the old songs seems less oppressive.”

But just as all things evolve over time, so do the songs, often with new meaning attached to or replacing the old.

“Mostly the sentiment endures, even if it’s changed or if the feeling resolved,” they said. “It doesn’t detract from what was felt previously. Most of these [lyrical] scenarios are pretty enduring.”

Given the constant state of flux, ranging from writing to recording to performing, when asked to name the best and worst aspects of doing what they do, the members are admittedly unable to rank activities or establish a hierarchy.

“Everything’s different every time just on account of changes,” they said. “[But it] feels like maybe all aspects are equal parts enjoyment and frustration.”

But perhaps more than anything, this combination of the various positive and negative experiences have led the three to understand much more about themselves as individuals, as well as how they function in relation to one another.

“Our range of motion has opened up so much. There are things we can do now that we wouldn’t have even considered trying when we started because they we’re physically impossible to us,” the ladies shared. “We understand each other now too, and we love each other in ways more meaningful than we could have anticipated. It’s no simple task getting along and being careful with each other in such emotionally volatile terrain; in doing so we have learned a lot about ourselves and about the nature of partnership.”

The Sandwitches play tonight at Monarch in Berlin. The show begins at 21.00.

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