A Shoreline Dream’s Ryan Policky
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A Shoreline Dream’s been laying low in the two years since it released its album, but it’s been anything but shiftless. The act headed to London to collaborate with Ulrich Schnauss; broke in a new bassist, Adam Edwards, while tweaking songwriting dynamics; and managed to wrap up its third full-length, Losing Them All To This Time. And its members still had enough time to keep their own label, Latenight Weeknight Records, rolling as well. With the act emerging from creative hibernation with an album-release show Thursday, Sept. 29 at Hi-Dive, The A.V. Club spoke with singer-guitarist Ryan Policky about keeping a low profile and maintaining the mystery.
The A.V. Club: Your songs seem as much about manipulating sounds as about traditional songwriting. Does it take longer to write a song because of the attention to soundscapes?
Ryan Policky: Yeah. You know, some of those songs, they were written really fast. Then, once again, you go into producing them, adding those soundscapes, adding those layers, all those things that we like to do. You end up spending months just fine-tuning that. That’s what happened with this again. Although, “Losing Them All To This Time,” that song happened and got produced in a week and a half, so I don’t know.
AVC: These days, independent bands seem to be focused on releasing as much material as possible and staying on the radar. Is it tough to go so long between releases for an act like A Shoreline Dream?
RP: There’s so many bands out there always releasing stuff, every month it seems. Some of these bands are constantly releasing, releasing, releasing. We’re like, “That could get a little crazy. Let’s just step back and do what we really love to do and not really worry about the marketing of us as a band.” Let people discover us on their own, while we’re taking this time to work on this. Overall, I think it worked, because there were still people getting in touch with us or people still wanting to know when we were releasing something. It seemed like we were getting more and more of these kind of e-mails and people on Facebook telling us, “We can’t wait for this to come out.” I think it benefitted [us] that we waited. Even though we don’t have millions of dollars behind us, taking the time to make sure those songs are awesome and exactly what we want to hear was worth it not being marketed constantly.
AVC: It seems a lot of bands get caught up in the idea that they should release a lot of material and forget that once they release an album, it’s out there forever.
RP: Exactly! It’s totally that. A lot of people get into this competition mindset, when there is no competition to begin with. It’s not like you’re competing against other artists. There’s going to be artists always, millions of bands doing things. What do you want your art to be, and how refined do you want it to be? That’s kind of where we were. We were like, “Let’s give the songs what they need.” It’s going to be a permanent fixture.
AVC: The cutthroat, competitive side a lot of bands have seems to be an almost universally ignored part of music, with bands attempting to play it down. Is it difficult to avoid getting caught up in that mentality?
RP: It’s just like everything in business, or whatever. There are going to be people out there that are going crazy with that kind of stuff. I try not to let it affect me too much, because it isn’t really a competition. Whenever I see someone competing, I’m like, “What are you competing for? What is the goal? Do you have a goal? Do you just want to be famous? What are trying to get out of that? What are you going to be better than another band at?” There’s nothing that you’ll be better at. Is your music good or is it not? That’s really what it comes down to.
Another thing I’ve noticed is bands who are competing for innovating something. You’re not really going to do that anymore. Almost every kind of music that you can possibly ever think of has possibly been done.
AVC: How much do you think the nature of the blogosphere affects that? Music bloggers seem to be obsessed with the notion of discovering new sounds as much as good sounds.
RP: It is definitely the nature of the Internet kind of forcing people to stand out by doing something that’s never been done before. Then they come out with it kind of in a pretentious way, and you’re like, “Uh, that’s been done, like 10 years ago.” It’s pretty funny. I don’t even know what they’re competing for. It blows my mind. The Internet kind of ruined the music industry.
AVC: At the same time, having a dream-pop or shoegaze sound, you’re making music for a pretty small niche audience. The Internet’s also helped to unify those widespread sounds.
RP: In the same light that I’m saying the Internet kind of ruined the music industry because it took away the mystery of everything, it’s also helpful for people like us, who started our own record label and can find those groups—even if they’re in a different country—easier.
AVC: A Shoreline Dream hasn’t been Tweeting seven times a day, posting new blog updates all the time. Is that part of maintaining the mystery about your band?
RP: That was part of it. What are we going to talk about? We could sit here and bullshit about all these things we are doing on the side, but you’ve got to let that mystery grow a little bit. I think unless you want to kill people and make people just annoyed by you, it’s like, “You made the music; give them the music, and quit.” When it comes to business stuff, I tend to like the label to do that. The label should be doing all that shit, not the band. The band doesn’t need to brag about shit.