UUVVWWZ's confident, intentional musical moves take firm hold on the trusted language, their just-released sophomore album.
The chance to make a second album gave the band the chance to be self reflective and move forward from there, singer Teal Gardner says.
"As the project progressed, we learned more about what we wanted to hear," she says.
Gardner says the first album is a document of UUVVWWZ learning what the band was about.
"Saddle Creek wanted to put out the first nine songs we had ever written," she says.
The first time UUVVWWZ wrote and recorded music was such an experiment, so just being beyond that stage has changed the process for the group.
Now the band's work can be more intentional and the members; Teal Gardner, Jim Schroeder, Dustin Wilbourn, and David Ozinga; make more conscience decisions about the music they make and how they make music together.
Ozinga says the new album, also out on Saddle Creek, contains more dark, looming songs, which are accompanied by a bigger, more fleshed out sound, as compared to the first album.
"It wouldn't sound right if it was recorded in the style of that first record," Ozinga says.
The band's current album started taking form when drummer David Ozinga replaced Tom Ambrose, who relocated to Australia. Gardner says the band's dynamic shifted with new drummer.
"For me, it was joining this band that I love," Ozinga says.
Despite the band being established before Ozinga joining, UUVVWWZ took its time unveiling its new chapter. The band essentially worked on writing new songs for two years.
The process became about finding as many different new ways of creating music as possible. Ozinga says writing songs for the trusted language really got started in the summer of 2010.
The band worked on writing an album instead of an anthology of songs, Ozinga says. The goal was to make the record have a sense of place and time to tie all the songs together.
For UUVVWWZ, Schroeder begins the process of writing songs on his guitar, often during jam sessions with Gardner. Roughly, the two will freely improvise for 30 to 45 minutes, recording their output and then listen back to the results.
"It's a different process every time but it kind of starts with Teal and I," Schroeder says.
Ozinga says the process is not static, but typically Schroeder leads the way, working on a sketch or structure and shaping it until he and Teal bring it to the band. From there, the band works on roughing up or smoothing out the compositions, based on the song's needs.
Gardner is the lyrical force of the band and she sometimes writes on the spot and sometimes will draw from material she previously wrote.
Some songs have lines culled from Gardner's poems. Others are written while guitarist Jim Schroeder plays guitar next to Gardner.
Sometimes the writing is really intentional, such as on "Broad Sky Blues". Gardner and Schroeder sat down on several occasions to work through the intentions in the song.
There is no set process or technique. Sometimes the words come first, sometimes they develop at the same time that Gardner creates the singing style and cadence for a song.
"I'm coming at it from as many angles as i can right now," Gardner says.
Gardner says she sometimes looks to sing lyrics that make her vocal parts sound more instrumental.
"I really hope there's a synergy between what I'm saying and how I'm saying it," Gardner says.
Ozinga says the band usually is able to match the music and lyrics together when they are discussing and rehearsing new material. Ozinga says he focuses on capturing the scenes that are in Gardner's head to help guide how he plays on a given song.
For the trusted language, Ozinga says he was drawn to the ethereal lyrical themes and being rooted in open space.
"Thinking about those concepts really changed how I played on this record," Ozinga says.
Its not about deciphering lyrics line-by-line as much as "it's more about feeling or environment that she's crafting," Ozinga says.
Gardner definitely sees a challenge to maximize her role as a vocalist, finding interesting ways to use lyrics and her vocals as an integral part of the band.
"I only sing in the band so I feel like I have the right and responsibility to take that as far as I can," Gardner says.
As the band continued to work on new songs and evolve, they also kept pushing plans to record in a studio back. There was no rush to get a second album done and released.
"Eventually we had nine or ten songs that seemed to mesh pretty well together," Ozinga says.
By summer 2012, the band booked time at ARC Studios here in Omaha and brought on Conduits' JJ Idt to produce the sessions. Ben Brodin helped engineer the sessions.
Those sessions centered on the band's live performances, capturing bass and drums to serve as the album's foundation.
The band then worked at Little Machine, a home studio in North Omaha, where Idt and studio owner Matthew Carroll assisted the band's more experimental guitar and vocal takes. Ozinga says the band took full advantage of the time they worked there.
"We had a lot more freedom there," Ozinga says.
The band then mixed the album at Fuse Studios in Lincoln. During mixing, they used the space as a reverb chamber on songs, in order to take advantage of the studio's unique sound, Ozinga says.
"We were able to use that studio as another instrument," Ozinga says.
UUVVWWZ w/ Touch People and the Renfields play the Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple St., Saturday, February 9th at 9 p.m. The show is $7. For more information, visit onepercentproductions.com.