Mates of State

Seattle Weekly: What brand of eyeliner are you wearing for the cover shot of Bring It Back?

Jason Hammel (drums, vocals, husband): I actually don't know. A friend of ours did the styling. We obviously have makeup on, but she took the Polaroid and painted it, so the makeup is definitely embellished.

"Like U Crazy" sounds like a dreamy make-out ballad from Back to the Future. Was this a conscious attempt to capture a more classic sound?

Yeah, Kori [Gardner; keyboards, vocals, wife] just started playing it, and we were like, whoa, that's pretty good. We demoed it ourselves, and it sounded like an old '50s song, so we wanted to put doo-wops in it when we got in the studio for real.

What did Barsuk have to offer you that other labels didn't?

We've kind of been friends with them for a long time. We started to talk to them and liked their ideas about how they'd help us on tour and with distributors. They just had some really creative ideas about stuff we hadn't concerned ourselves too much with in the past.

People have often observed that Seattle and San Francisco are mirror images of one another. Do you agree with that analogy?

Yeah, we've always just had a kinship with Seattle bands. We always really hit it off and felt like we were on the same wavelength in terms of how we tour and the type of music we make. So I would definitely agree with that. In fact, we've contemplated moving to Seattle on several occasions. It's a little cheaper than San Francisco.

The piano is more prominent on this record than others. Is that because Kori has gotten more confident with more pure keyboard sounds, or is it something else?

Lately we've been more into the sound of piano. Also, we can easily plug this piano thing into our computer without waking up [our baby daughter] Magnolia.

One of the charms of your sound is that, while the instrumentation can be very intricate, your vocals can sound like a couple little kids shout-singing at the top of their lungs. Do you guys tend to go with your first or second vocal track on each album?

On our first record, it was like, "Yeah, first takeā€”done." But on Team Boo, it was 15 or 20. We felt like that was too much, so we did four or five takes on our latest. We also just love to sing, and singing is not always about controlling the voice.

Does it surprise you that supermodel Heidi Klum's husband, the singer-songwriter Seal, was not featured as a guest judge on Project Runway?

No, that doesn't surprise me. I'm sure she wants to have her own career and not have him outshine her all the time.

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