It’s tough work doing everything yourself.
Living in Altus, the post-pop-punkers known as The Typist do a lot of music-related things themselves (read on for more about that), and that includes purchasing and operating their own recording equipment. Turns out, they did that quite well.
There’s a lot of enthusiasm in “Midwestern High Life”’s 10 tracks — specifically, the big-rock keyboard melodies, but also in the earnest, aggressively sung and shouted lyrics that mourn busted-up relationships and reconcile the future against the prospect of leaving where you grew up and fell in love (see: “Midwest”).
Singer Matt Moran was nice enough to answer a few questions about the birth of his band and what it’s like recording music in a place like Altus. Read on, and be sure to give “Midwestern High Life” a listen, below.
The Typist plays The Conservatory tomorrow night with Frank Smith
and O Fidelis.OKS:
How did you guys set up this show with Frank Smith and O Fidelis?Matt Moran:
We’ve got a little bit of a history playing The Conservatory with old bands. I was also in a band that played with O Fidelis at the benefit for the UCO Jazz Lab a little while back. That’s how we got that going.OKS:
What other bands have you guys played in?Moran:
Our bassist, Patrick [Bellamy], and I were in You’d Prefer an Astronaut, which was a post-rock band that was in the vein of This Will Destroy You-type music. I’ve been in a few older punk bands from a waaaaay
that played Conservatory. It was a pretty youth-punk-type deal. How did The Typist come to be?
Moran: I’d been in and out of bands, and I started doing stuff on my own. I’d been doing it for a while and I decided, "Y’know, I should probably start recording and playing new songs for people." So I recorded a short little EP — five songs, acoustic — but I realized that I was just meant to do the band thing. I got help from my friends Justin [Strickland, drummer] and Patrick, we started playing the songs and then decided we needed to write songs as a band, and get everybody involved. We came up with an album’s worth of material, so we decided to record it.
We were like, “Well, we can go to a studio and lay this down,” but we decided that we wanted to take the time we wanted to take and not be limited by studio money. So we threw all our money together, bought some recording gear and spent the last two and a half months recording it, day in and day out.
We didn’t even actually add our keyboard player — who’s my brother, Daniel [Moran] — until last month. He came in and laid down a lot of keyboard parts, and as soon as he was finished, we just looked at him and said, “You’ve got no option; you have to be in this band. You just completed it. You made everything sound twice as good.”
OKS: What did Daniel bring with his keyboard? Was he playing a lot of riff-type stuff, or what?
Moran: He was doing a lot of Hammond organ stuff. I happen to be a religious follower of Charles Gillingham of the Counting Crows, and my brother came in and did that type of thing. He nailed it.
OKS: Do you guys all live in Altus?
Moran: Yes, except for Daniel. He lives an hour north, in Elk City.
OKS: What are some of the challenges of living and recording down in the southwest? Moran: I guess the biggest challenge is just playing as much as you can. Down here — most people don’t know this — we actually have a pretty good music scene. It has a very DIY aesthetic about it. Everything we do, living in Altus, we have to do everything ourselves. If we want to get a show together, it’s the old DIY thing of finding a place, renting it out, getting a sound system, getting everything together yourself, promoting it as much as you can, and trying to do all that.
We like to come up and play in the city as much as we can, because we feel like it’s one of the really good places to be. For so many reasons, we remain here, but we try to make the best of what we got. I think it instills a good work ethic into us.
OKS: What sorts of venues do you guys play in for shows in Altus?
Moran: We’ve done all sorts of shit. We usually rent empty halls out and put it on, but we’ve done house shows. I’ve done a show in a storage shed, which was actually a pretty fun time. We packed about 50 people into it.
OKS: That’s impressive. Do you guys have something like a record store down there?
Moran: We don’t have a record store, but we have a really awesome music store that’s actually helped us out a bunch. Our drummer works there, and they’ve really helped us out and backed us up.
OKS: How do you stay up with new music?
Moran: Largely the Internet. We’ve got friends who are way more into that than we are. I go to Size Records every time I’m in the city, but otherwise, we’ve got to keep up with it online.
OKS: Through the Internet, you’ve got just as much access as me at my desk or somebody in New York or whatever. Do you feel it’s a big enabler for you guys, like you have the same opportunity as anybody else?
Moran: Yes, definitely. That hits the nail on the head. It’s kind of an equalizer for us. It’s not like we can go up and socialize with people as much as we want to, or go to the places we want to go on a regular basis. We have to socialize and keep up with music online, then make the trip when we can. OKS: What are the biggest limitations in being physically removed from the music scene in OKC, where you’d like to be more involved?
Moran: Mainly, it puts a limit on the camaraderie you can have. It’s a small social network that we have, and you don’t get to connect with people as much as you like to. When you can’t have that regular connection, it makes it difficult.
OKS: How does that frustration factor into you guys’ music?
Moran: Because of the tighter circle, we all know each other — musically — really well. You’ve got limited resources and limited people to make things happen with, so you really get to know each other. You grow to be a family.
Our drummer, he’s an incredible drummer. When he tells me something, I know exactly where he’s coming from, what he’s talking about. There’s nothing that ever gets lost in translation from instrument to instrument, player to player, or whatever.
OKS: If you had to sit down and talk it out as a band, what band would you say informed your music directly?
Moran: Like our biggest influence? I’d have to say probably a band like Manchester Orchestra. Very direct rock ’n’ roll with Southern sound and a distinct keyboard.
OKS: Who wrote the lyrics? You?
Moran: Yeah, that was me. It was an interesting feeling to write all the lyrics for a record.
OKS: Had you never done that before?
Moran: I had, just mostly for my personal music before. Never with a band.
OKS: So were you apprehensive going into it?
Moran: It honestly did, because these other guys are really great musicians. I didn’t want to do them a disservice. I didn’t want them to walk away thinking, “This should change, that should change.”
OKS: Did anybody else in the band try to offer advice on the lyric-writing, or do they understand it to be your thing?
Moran: They leave it to me, but they’re very free with the advice on the vocal melodies.
Listen to The Typist’s first album, “Midwestern High Life,” below. You can download it for $5.