L.A. duo the Submarines, whose last album, 2008’s Honeysuckle Weeks, boasted two stellar songs that provided the theme music to Apple’s iPhone ad campaign, are back April 5 with their third effort, Love Notes/Letter Bombs. Hear an exclusive stream of “The Sun Shines at Night” here, plus download another album track, “Birds.” Below, check out their full U.S. tour itinerary, which includes a stop at March’s SXSW before its proper kickoff on April 7 in Costa Mesa, CA.
LISTEN: The Submarines, “The Sun Shines at Night”
LISTEN: The Submarines, “Birds” (DOWNLOAD MP3)
The married couple wrote Love Notes/Letter Bombs in their studio, adjacent to their L.A. abode, and tried out more face-to-face collaboration than they’d ever done before.
“We figured out we were going to have to write in a room together, pencil and paper, strumming a guitar, doing it the old fashioned way, which we had never done before,” says singer-keyboardist Blake Hazard. “I think we both in the end liked the collaborative process, but it took a while to get used to.”
“There were lots of boxing matches,” adds guitarist John Dragonetti.
Lyrically, the record finds the couple talking about — what else — the dynamics of their own partnership.
“Everyone ultimately writes what they know and what’s close to them,” says Dragonetti. “We try not to write about our relationship and then we always end up, in spite of ourselves, focusing on that,” adds Hazard. “I think on this record, it’s true that a lot of it is about the experiences that we’re having now.”
“The Sun Shines at Night” is a bit different, though, with a storyline about teenage romance. “I was imagining these two kids who live in the same neighborhood and they’re crazy about each other and they’re meeting up,” Hazard reveals. “I thought of my hometown and I don’t know — there’s something about that song that’s really dear to me in a way.”
Musically, the song began as an arrangement that Dragonetti wrote for an anti-smoking public service announcement directed by the band’s pal, documentary filmmaker Doug Pray (Hype!, Scratch). “After the PSA came out, a lot of people were like, ‘Where can I get this song?'” says Hazard. So the band fleshed it out, with Dragonetti heading to Austin to record more of the music with Spoon’s Jim Eno, who plays drums on the song.
As a whole, Love Notes has a much more polished, direct sound than Honeysuckle Weeks, and its two bubbly cuts, “You, Me and the Bourgeoisie” and “Submarine Symphonika,” which ended up in Apple ads. But the exposure from the iPhone campaign didn’t impact their new material, the band says.
“It didn’t really cross our mind that much,” says Dragonetti. “You don’t want to write a new song that sounds like another song you wrote anyway.”
Instead, the Apple experience was a positive one for the Submarines, with the exposure helping them “keep making records and touring and everything else in this weird era where it’s really hard to make a living as a band otherwise,” says Hazard.
She also got a kick out of the recent appearance by Vampire Weekend and the Black Keys on The Colbert Report, where both bands — whose music is frequently used in commercials — had a “Sell-Out Off,” about which band was the bigger shill for corporate America. “I was laughing hysterically,” she recalls. “I thought that was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen and none of those guys seem to have any qualms about having their music in ads.”
Tell us what you think of “The Sun Shines at Night” in the comments, and check out the Submarines’ tour dates here.
Tour Dates for The Submarines
3/18, Austin, TX (Antone’s – Billions Showcase SXSW)
4/7, Costa Mesa, CA (Detroit Bar)
4/9, San Francisco, CA (Slim’s)
4/11, Portland, OR (Doug Fir Lounge)
4/12, Seattle, WA (Tractor Tavern)
4/13, Vancouver, BC (Biltmore Cabaret)
4/15, Salt Lake City, UT (Urban Lounge)
4/16, Denver, CO (Larimer Lounge)
4/18, Omaha, NE (The Waiting Room)
4/19, St. Paul (Turf Club)
4/20, Chicago, IL (Schubas)
4/22, Toronto, ON (Horseshoe Tavern)
4/23, Montreal, QC (Casa Del Popolo)
4/25, Allston, MA (Brighton Music Hall)
4/26, Brooklyn, NY (Music Hall Of Williamsburg)
4/27, Philadelphia, PA (Johnny Brenda’s)
4/28, Washington, DC (Black Cat Backstage)
4/29, Chapel Hill, NC (Local 506)
4/30, Atlanta, GA (The Earl)
5/2, Austin, TX (The Parish)
5/3, Dallas, TX (The Loft)
5/5, Tucson, AZ (Solar Culture)
5/6, San Diego, CA (The Loft at UCSD)
5/7, Los Angeles, CA (The Troubadour)