Touring new record, The New Pornographers balance original sound with modern ideas

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The New Pornographers

Alec Schwartzman, Print Arcade Editor

Building a band full of superstars is seriously hard work. Keeping them all together can prove even trickier; just ask A.C. Newman, leader of indie rock supergroup, The New Pornographers. He accomplished the feat just under 15 years ago. Since then, Newman has led and directed the band’s release of several records to critical acclaim and toured all over the world. After a four-year reprieve since its last album, with most members focusing on their solo efforts, the group has returned under Newman’s orchestration with “Brill Bruisers,” an album released in August. With members based all over the world, Newman had to overcome several obstacles – including raising a toddler – to make sure the recording process ran smoothly. Newman built a home studio at his house in Woodstock, Ontario, where all of the band members could flock to record at their own leisure. The resulting album reflects a refreshed band ready to re-impress audiences.

“I feel like it takes what we do and turns everything up a little more,” Newman said. “When we made this record we wanted to sound like us but we didn’t want it to sound like us. For me that’s the game of making a record, trying to find that balance of sounding new, but yet sounding like yourself.”

With this album, the band has not departed from its playful guitar-pop roots, but instead provided a backdrop for the classic aspects of its sound with the electronic landscapes permeating the modern music scene. Don’t believe for a second, however, that Newman simply desires to pander to naïve new listeners with the use of synthesizers. The band approached recording the album with only its own intentions in mind.

“We know what kind of record we want to make. We don’t know what we can expect of people’s reaction to it,” Newman said. “We just wanted to make something a little faster, sparklier, shinier, with the Vegas idea of using lots of arpeggiators. [We] wanted to do a record that was a fun, rock and roll record, but also not dumb it down.”

While the music industry has undoubtedly shifted since the band’s inception in 1999, Newman does not concern himself with appropriating passing fads or trends.

“Worrying about being relevant is such a tricky game,” Newman said. “I feel like the moment when you start to worry about being relevant is when you become irrelevant … we just get together and trust each other’s instincts.”

The tour supporting the record’s release will roll through New Orleans on Friday at the Civic Theatre.

“It’s been awesome,” Newman said. “We don’t often tour with everybody. We don’t always have Neko Case and Dan Bejar. We’ve been learning a lot of old songs for this tour, changing the sets up a lot. I really feel like we’re as good as we’ve ever been.”