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Here We Go Magic gets a second start with a new album

Forthcoming "Pigeons" features a full band

Peter Mongillo

Spacey indie pop band Here We Go Magic, which played several sets during South by Southwest, is set to release "Pigeons," its follow-up to last year's self-titled album, in June. The band, which began as frontman Luke Temple's solo project, combines flowing layers of sound with well-crafted harmonies and subtleties such as xylophones to create a unique sound that it's developed well in a live setting. We caught up with Temple, Peter Hale, Michael Bloch, Kristina Lieberson and Jennifer Turner when they were in town last month. They return for a show Wednesday with White Rabbits at the Independent.

You were here at SXSW in 2009 and then toured for a year. What has changed for the band?

Temple: We've been around for a little longer, and people are excited to see us. Maybe they've already seen us and now they're excited to see us again. Last year, people didn't know what to expect from us as a live band, and we didn't know what to expect from us either, to some degree. We've really grown into ourselves as a band. I don't even feel like this is the same thing as the first record. That just happened to be called "Here We Go Magic." This feels like our first record.

What is different about the new album?

Temple: For one, it has a full-band treatment; it's not all just me. Not just in terms of playing the instruments, either — it's a democracy, we're all giving an equal amount of creativity to this project. It's bigger, a lot of it we recorded live. I feel like there are more songs. The first record was kind of like a glorified EP, and that's how I intended it. This is a full, fleshed-out album.

Does the album still have a lo-fi feel?

Temple: Relative to the first record, it's pretty hi-fi, but in the big picture it's pretty lo-fi. It kind of has a '70s vibe about it. To me, it sounds sort of like a Buzzcocks record or something. Really dry drums, thin, piercing guitars sounds.

Turner: We still recorded it to tape.

You toured with Grizzly Bear and the Walkmen last year.

Temple: I think just playing as much as we did out the gates with Grizzly Bear influenced our music. I don't think their music influenced our music per se — we love their music, and it was really good playing with them because their audience was really responsive to us. It gave us a sense that we were doing something right.

Lieberson: It was also good to watch how those bands play together because they've been together a lot longer than us, so I think that was a good learning experience to watch how they understood each other. They were professional.

Did you work out the new songs live first?

Temple: Some of it we had already been playing on the Grizzly Bear tour, so we kind of had songs worked out ahead of time.

Turner: Which ironically were the hardest songs to record. We tried to record them first because we knew them, and we had to kind of let go of everything we knew. We all lived in a space together in a house upstate (New York). Luke would write a song in the morning and we would flesh it out for half and hour and then we'd start recording it.

Kind of like the Band's 'Music From Big Pink'?

Temple: Yeah, it was a different part of the Catskills. They didn't actually record that in their house, they were up there demoing.

Hale: A lot of our favorite music is recorded that way. It's not urban, where there is a lot to get distracted by. Going out to be by yourself is really key.

Temple: The next one we want to record in the Caribbean, in a real hot, sticky, mosquito-infested place.

pmongillo@statesman.com; 445-3696