The members of Detroit's The High Strung are creatures of habit: The band's first three records are consistently great and often fuzzy, characterized by a frantic rhythm section and the character-sketching lyrics of singer-guitarist Josh Malerman; this will be its fifth summer of filling the time between gigs by playing daytime shows in libraries, plugged-in and full-volume. But when it came to recording The High Strung's fourth record, Malerman, drummer Derek Berk, and bassist Chad Stocker were looking for a change, so Malerman began writing songs about himself, and Dave Newfeld (Broken Social Scene, Los Campesinos!) was brought in to produce. The record, Ode To The Inverse Of The Dude ("We're in our bad title phase," Malerman says), was released in April, and the band is currently touring behind it, stopping The Black Cat tonight. Malerman spoke to The A.V. Club about getting inside his own head, working with the enigmatic Newfeld, and the band's upcoming show at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
The A.V. Club: What makes Ode To The Inverse Of The Dude a "personal" record?
Josh Malerman: I wish there was another word for that other than "personal." I feel like personal implies it's your "breakup album." Or it implies that this is a "dark" abum. But it's not. It's like a celebratory self-examination. It's like, "Wow, I can't believe all these crazy things about myself."
AVC: So it's more about examining your own psyche?
JM: The two of us couldn't sound more pretentious than we sound right now, but I think that's exactly what it is. I'm as fascinated as anyone by the human mind. The writer looks into himself, and some of it's freaky, and some of it's fun, and I would say it's more of Rorschach test than a deep album.
AVC: What were some of the elements of yourself that you wanted to explore?
AVC: Is that how the song "Guilt Is How I'm Built" started?