In the Studio \

Speedy Ortiz Quit Their Day Jobs for New Album ‘Foil Deer’

The Northampton band's follow-up to 'Major Arcana' is due out in April

Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis has more free time these days than usual. Spending the last three years teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, the 26-year-old frontwoman recently ended her tenure due to her band’s hectic touring schedule. “I can just sit around and read all day,” she says over the phone. “I’m not accustomed to it. I’m used to having a million things to do every day. I’m like, ‘Oh what am I gonna read today? What three movies can I watch?’ I have every day off now.”

Despite the boredom, the upside to putting in her two weeks’ notice is that the New York City native and her Northampton bandmates — bassist Darl Ferm, drummer Mike Falcone, and guitarist Devin McKnight — have had more time to focus their forthcoming, 12-track sophomore LP, Foil Deer, which will be released in April. “I believe it’s April 21,” Dupuis says. “It might be April 28. But I think it’s April 21.” The title, she says, comes from “a sculpture I saw in a museum a while ago. I wrote it in a notebook. I liked the image of it, and it wound up in a lyric of a song.” 

And with a new album comes a new Speedy member: After former guitarist Matt Robidoux went on an indefinite hiatus from the band last May (“We haven’t really talked to him since then,” Dupuis says. “But he’s doing his own thing in a couple of projects”), McKnight met Dupuis when her old band Quilty played with Grass is Green, his Boston-based troupe of post-punk experimentalists. “I went up to him after the show and was like, ‘I bet you like Chavez and Polvo,’ and he was like, ‘Why yes, I do,'” the singer recalls. “There are certain songs that I can point to in Speedy Ortiz where I’ll say to him, ‘Dude, I was just trying to rip off your guitar playing on this part. So, in like a weird way, the songs sound more like they were supposed to now that he’s playing on them. It’s because I was trying to rip on his style.”

Dupuis and Co. had only four days to record their 2013 debut, Major Arcana (home to such crooked orchestrations as “Tiger Tank” and “Hitch”), and half that time to work on their 2014 EP, the sludgily melodic Real Hair; to craft their 2015 follow-up, the band took “a full three weeks.” The result, Dupuis says, “doesn’t sound like our previous stuff,” which has drawn comparisons to indie-rock pillars like Archers of Loaf and Silkworm for its blend of emotionally naked songwriting and nostalgia-inducing distortion.

“The previous records are very much live records in the sense that we’re all playing together in a room, and there are very few overdubs and even our vocals are buried under tumbling guitars,” Dupuis explains. “This time there was a lot of going into each song and tweaking it… Putting in little things that you might not notice the first time around. We did a lot of intense keyboards, which is a big change for us.”

The newer material moves away from the sorts of angsty ruminations that were aimed at the opposite sex and which dominated earlier efforts. Cliche though it may be, Speedy Ortiz’s second full-length reflects a newfound maturity. “A lot of those previous songs were written four years ago. Now, if someone’s really shitty in my life, I just kick them out and don’t give them a second thought,” Dupuis says. “Instead of just being mad, like, ‘Ugh, this one bro was shitty to me,’ it’ll be like, ‘All bros are shitty to these kinds of people.'” 

Having a bigger recording budget also played a significant part in the making of Foil Deer, which they recorded with Nicolas Vernhes at Rare Book Room in Brooklyn. “We didn’t have any money to record Major Arcana,” she says. “We were all working full-time jobs. I was teaching a UMass, and Matt was teaching at his school, and Darl was like delivering pizzas, and had his radio show and was in grad school.” 

Perhaps the greatest benefit to tossing aside their W-2s, however, is achieving a greater sense of control. “We initiated a record of what we wanted to make, more so than the previous ones,” Dupuis says, “because we had time to make it correct, and not just a live approximation.”