Nothing To Hide | Mates of State

I don’t think we necessarily wrote the entire record about having a kid or any of that kind of stuff.



Few bands write music as unabashedly joyous as Mates of State. The husband-and-wife duo of singer/organist Kori Gardner and singer/drummer Jason Hammel continues their tradition of gorgeous instrumental melodies and lighthearted vocal harmonies on Bring It Back, their fourth LP and first for indie label Barsuk. This year marks the first time the pair has brought their infamously uplifting live show to SXSW. We discussed the new disc and the duo’s trip to Austin with Hammel.

With the two of you writing songs together, what’s the process like?

It changed a bit. With the capabilities of recording at home, one of us would put a part down on the computer and the other person would sit down and try to come up with something to go with it, and then we kept passing parts back and forth until we had a song. Once we thought we were close and got something we could actually play, then we would hash out how we’d do it live. Another reason why it changed is because we had a kid and, obviously, scheduling around the kid’s schedule, we had a lot less flexibility, rather than being able to sit down in the basement for hours.

Did having a baby change the new album in any unexpected ways, other than scheduling conflicts?

I’m sure it did, but only because our records tend to be personal; the topics are personal and pretty specific to our lives. I don’t think we necessarily wrote the entire record about having a kid or any of that kind of stuff. But right now it’s sort of hard to tell, like it could have changed not necessarily because of the baby but for other reasons…natural change.

Why did you move from Polyvinyl over to Barsuk for this one?

Our contract was up with Polyvinyl, [and] Barsuk is a label that we’ve been friends with for a long time. For us, change, major change, has always been a good thing, whether it is moving from San Francisco to Kansas on a whim, or San Francisco to the East Coast on a whim, you know. A lot of times, we like change because it inspires something within us.

What do you think it is about your band that engenders such a strong connection with your fans?

I would hope it’s because we’re real people; we’re honest. A lot of times, being in the rock ’n’ roll business, you can let your ego sort of get the best of you. You can play up to all that, “I’m the performer, and you’re the audience” kind of thing, and put yourself up on a pedestal. But for us, it’s more about connecting with people through the music; that’s the concept of the title Bring it Back. We just want honesty and truth to be injected back into the way we make music. We just are real people, and we don’t really have anything to hide.

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