Last summer, indie-pop band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin announced the release date of new album, “Fly By Wire,” followed by news that the group’s bassist, John Robert Cardwell, was leaving the band.
However, the group’s reaction to the situation is not what some would expect. While the split was on good terms, it also left an immediate and noticeable void–one that was quickly filled by the arrival of former bassist Tom Hembree and keyboard player Roni Dickey. As a result, the core of the band–which consists of Philip Dickey, Will Knauer, and Jonathan James–was able to move on without suffering substantial setbacks.
“It’s been really fun, I think. We thought it would be a lot different, losing a member, but we’ve gained two members and the transition was really smooth, and everything was amicable,” Knauer said, while backstage before the band’s recent show at Privatclub. “Honestly, like, when I’m on stage, at first I was worried, like, it would feel empty or like, I’d feel awkward, but I just, it seems so normal to me.”
Now, with a full lineup, the band is on its first European tour since 2010.
“So far, we’ve just been playing in, like, the coolest clubs in town,” Dickey said. “They just seem like they’re the destination spots.”
Not only that, but the shows themselves have been good, with audiences consisting of long-term fans, as well as people who have only just heard about the band via word of mouth.
Of course, it’s difficult for anyone to resist the catchy pop sensibilities that SSLYBY have become known for over the past decade, since the release of 2005’s “Broom.” That album was recorded in the attic of a member’s house, which was a contributing factor toward the warm, fuzzy, lo-fi quality of the release.
For “Fly By Wire,” the band returned to that same attic. On the group’s third album, 2010’s “Let It Sway,” SSLYBY worked with producer Chris Walla. While it was a positive experience, this time around, the band felt the need to go back to its roots.
“I think it was good to do it one way and then go back. It’s just a good balance,” Knauer shared. “It’s nice to have the extra incentive [while recording], but also nice to be in control sometimes.”
One downfall he mentioned was that doing it on your own means being responsible for pushing the progress along. And in the case of SSLYBY, the band entered the recording process without much of an agenda or purpose.
“We didn’t really know what the songs we’re going to be like by the end, because we were still writing some of them, like, as we were recording them,” Knauer said.
Yet it worked out, largely due to the fact that the music was written and recorded within a comfortable space, one where the members felt like they could be themselves and simply trust the process. But it also had something to do with being together for all these years.
“We all know each other so well now that we learned to, like, respect [one another],” Knauer said, speaking to an idea that carries over to both the music making and the personal aspects of being in a band.
Dickey agreed, nothing that the band’s relationship “has been a marriage [of sorts],” though in a matter of days, the group will be back home in Springfield, Missouri, and have the much-needed break after a tour.
“I know usually when we get back it feels so nice to be home,” Knauer said, speaking to this idea.
At the same time, he said that traveling to new places is the best part of being in a band.
“I used to never want to travel, but now I appreciate it so much, and just love being in really bizarre situations. For instance, last night we were doing a conga line in the Czech Republic at three in the morning…it’s just like everybody’s hanging out together…and I think that’s so neat,” he said. “I wish it happened more often to people. I go back home and, like, I wish I could share these…stories and experiences.”
Dickey agreed, saying he would love if everyone could experience traveling, if only just to see how alike we all really are.
“I don’t think we’re, like, any more deserving or more skilled…we’re just really in the right place at the right time,” he said. “It makes me just wish so bad, like that, you know, everyone could do this…the connection is so strong when meeting people through music or art or books or anything. It just makes me so sad about politics and money and bad things that happen in the world.”