If Codebreaker has spent the year since "What Is This Earth Love?" searching the deep chasms of outer space for sonic inspiration, the band -- Sage Schwarm and Steven Hawley -- has finally extracted its landing gear. The cosmic-funk pop duo has recently resurfaced here on Earth and is ready to share the results of its findings: second full-length album, "Exiled!"
The band hosts a CD release party Saturday, March 17 at The Mad Planet with Signaldrift and Bts.Wrkng and we caught up with Hawley to discuss what our ears can expect from the new album and live show.
OMC: I see you've enlisted Old Man Malcolm to your live show repertoire, as well as a guitar player. Is this the first time that you've sought out musicians other than the two of you to contribute to Codebreaker?
SH: Well, Codebreaker is Sage and myself that has had a rotating cast of live/touring members. However, Sage and I knew that we had to recruit the right line up for the direction in which we were going. Sage played Malcolm some of the new stuff that we were doing and he was WAY into it, which works out nicely because we're WAY into having him on board. Sage and Malcolm used to play together in Wild Kingdom and Citizen King so it's great to have this new but familiar energy going on between them.
I recruited our new guitarist, Dan Flynn. He's more out of the jazz scene, really. Jazz trained musicians and I stand a much better chance of getting along -- it's the classically trained ones that are like oil and water for me. Anyway, I was looking for a guitarist that loves sticking a funky rhythm, that doesn't wank or noodle. In other words, someone sharp, funky, no hippie sh*t, anti-guitar clinic -- and that's Dan.
OMC: Does Malcolm contribute to "Exiled!?" He's definitely a known funk man around town -- did that at all influence the added funkiness of the new record? Or was that just a natural progression that you wanted to go in anyway?
SH: Live wise, Malcolm is definitely bringing the heat to our new sound. He's got a natural sense of timing and showmanship that you just can't teach someone. "Exiled!" was all pretty much written by the time Malcolm and Dan came on board so, it was definitely the natural progression of Sage's and my writing style. We really put a lot of thought and effort into honing a new sound that represented the sorts of sounds/music that we love the most.
OMC: Speaking of progression, what can your fans expect from "Exiled!?" How has Codebreaker evolved since "What is This Earth Love?"
SH: Well we've definitely taken a significant step in the funky-based aspects of our previous work. I mean, "Exiled!" is the result of many 16-hour days/nights in our basement studio, in isolation on our own planet, really. We wanted to bring a brand new sound, something that bumps the dance floor as well as a total headphone escape. We were immersing ourselves in a cult of two, really. It's crazy; this past year we've truly lived this album as a lifestyle, everyday, and I think it shows. I feel like I just stepped off of some wild sci-fi movie set for the first time in 12 months. We've taken a lot of gutsy leaps -- it's funky, rebellious, far out, warm, romantic and catchy. It flows very well as a cohesive concept I think.
OMC: Are you guys still feeling tons of international love?
SH: It's not as much as it was after "Earth Love" came out ... because folks are just waiting for the new album now, but yeah, even though a lot of great developments have happened in that regard, I just stay focused, creative and hustling hard as if nothing's happened. I think we got a tough, pragmatic, relentless brand of humble perseverance about the business and publicity end of things.
OMC: Any new interesting videos in the near future?
SH: Yeah, we're just cracking into production on a brand new one right now with director Tate Bunker, who did the "What Is This Earth Love?" video.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”