Making a grand return after a 14-year hiatus is the genre-bending group with “Hey, Come On!”
A lot has happened in the past 14 years: Brexit, COVID, the rise of social media. And in the midst of turmoil and progression, new music has been cooking from one of the most critically-acclaimed bands from the noughties – Thee More Shallows. Having disbanded and gone their separate ways years back, three of the members decided the time was right to reunite, and the trio are back with their first offering in over a decade: Dad Jams.
Set to give us a retrospective look on their lives over the years, the group’s album will further show their sonic and lyrical growth – and their latest teaser “Hey, Come On!” is proving just that. Laced with twinkling synths and soothing echoing vocals, the single bursts at the seems with melancholia; from the distant yet warming drumbeat, to the heartfelt lyricism that bounces over vintage guitar strings.
“I suppose it’s more direct emotionally,” lead singer Dee Kesler revealed. “Tonally it’s probably a bit less bristling than Book of Bad Breaks. But it’s hard for me to say. In the past, as a product of collaborations with trusted friends, or limitations of craft and resources, or influences, there’s been a tone dictated or planned or pursued. This time there was no tone, no expectation, and no deadline – just the aspiration to finish something. And I finished. Congratulations! Glad to be throwing another log on the digital pyre – it was about to go out.”
Due for release May 28, Dee further teased that the album is “probably the coolest album anyone’s ever written about fatherhood” and we can expect more “perfect pop moments.”
Check out the group’s latest single below and the interview…
Thee More Shallows are releasing your first album in 14 years which is huge – where did the name Dad Jams come from?
Thee More Shallows’ previous two records (“Book of Bad Breaks” and “More Deep Cuts”) are life events masquerading as the title of a Spotify lifestyle playlist. Dad Jams continues in that vein: I’m sure there are 10,000 playlists with that title… but I am also … a dad … and I’ve both made some jams … and gotten myself in some. See what I did there? So good. It’s important to please yourself. If the next album title is ‘Latin Dance Cardio’ it will mean I’ve moved to the Dominican Republic and had a coronary.
“Hey, Come On” is the third single from the album – what inspired it?
This song. If using a dating app you should be required to 1) answer, in full, 100 questions posed by a bot designed to ferret out and list all the ways your personality will metastasise within the context of a relationship, and 2) display your results as the entirety of your profile. I’d support legislation enacting the above mainly because I met my wife before dating apps. She got honey-potted into a lifelong partnership based off of “has a sense of humour, smells ok.”
You took a long break from music – what felt right about now to make a comeback?
I don’t feel like I’ve ever arrived, so I can’t come back to anywhere! But lately I just happen to have time and energy for the immersive process of songwriting and lyrics. When my kids were born, I needed to focus on earning a living. And so for over a decade I primarily worked as a composer of music for commercials. In that mindset, a self-referential or even self-directed creativity takes a backseat, and eventually some spiritual sickness ensues. It’s been nice to prioritise expression again.
How does this album tonally and emotionally feel different from your last record?
I suppose it’s more direct emotionally. And tonally it’s probably a bit less bristling than Book of Bad Breaks. But it’s hard for me to say. In the past, as a product of collaborations with trusted friends, or limitations of craft and resources, or influences, there’s been a tone dictated or planned or pursued. This time there was no tone, no expectation, and no deadline – just the aspiration to finish something. And I finished. Congratulations! Glad to be throwing another log on the digital pyre – it was about to go out.
You formed back in 2001 in California – how do you think your songwriting process has changed since then?
My songwriting skills, my voice, my musicianship – you name it – have all improved year-over-year, decade-over-decade. Every single time I sit down to write I learn something. And I also feel like I have more meaningful experiences to draw from and a better understanding of how to turn them into art. That said, writing songs hasn’t gotten any easier. For one, no matter how serious it is, music is play, and accessing a playful state of mind is effortful in the version of mid-life I’m experiencing. Also I’m not part of a zeitgeist or group of people making music, as I was when I was younger – I miss that collective energy.
And how has it been navigating the new landscape of music and the internet?
Certainly, it’s a challenge. I have to wait for ages for my modem to connect, and then I miss important calls while I’m in my favourite chatrooms. But seriously, my idea of interacting with listeners is ancient: I craft and work and iterate and iterate and iterate and finally, after eons, I carefully share the product of my mostly solitary process. Instagram, YouTube, Patreon etc. put a premium on another type of process: an ongoing, almost real-time presentation of ideas. Artists starting out these days are born into that style of constant production and swim in it so naturally. I respect that manner of being an artist, but I can’t even approximate it.
How does it feel to be releasing music at such an uncertain time, and what do you hope it brings your fans?
Times have never felt certain to me, so things feel the same. As to what I hope – it’s what I always hope: that hearing me convey my life experience as honestly and completely as I know how to will help listeners feel a little bit less alone.
What’s next for you? What are you excited for in 2021?
Other than general excitement to get back out of the house, I’m excited to keep writing! The demos I started making on my phone, covering other artists have led me to a more fun and off-the-cuff recording process for my latest round of songs. Though truthfully when I put “fun” and “latest round of songs” in the same sentence, the prediction never seems to bear out. Let’s just say I have a goal of finger-tapping on at least two new songs. Baby steps.