It’s rare that Sic Alps frontman Mike Donovan — a San Francisco cab driver for the past ten years, on and off — feels comfortable listening to his own music with a customer in the backseat. But a few weeks ago “this young, Irish fella” jumped in and asked to be taken to the city’s Sunset District, at a moment when Donovan was listening to his outfit’s latest, forthcoming self-titled full-length.
“It was the last song on Side A,” says Donovan. “Wake Up It’s Over II. And he asks, ‘Hey is this your band? It’s really good.’ And I tell him it is. Then “Thylacine Man” comes on — this really sad, mellow song — and it’s super loud and he’s just totally, stone quiet. When it’s over, he says, ‘Oh. I think, I think I had a moment there. Yeah, I just had a moment. What’s the name of that one?’ He was a rock’n’roll fan.”
While Donovan admits that it’s unlikely a fare would ever hear some of Sic Alps’ earlier, definitively damaged offerings (“though I have played crazier shit than ours”), his trio’s latest also marks the first time they’ve opted to record in a studio instead of at home. “It was a leap of faith in a lot of ways,” he says of the record, a far cleaner, professionally mixed affair whose Sgt. Pepper’s-informed opener, “Glyphs,” even includes strings. “I think we got really good at recording ourselves over the years because of a lack of gear. And there’s something about recording at home: you can say, ‘Alright, forget it, lets come back to this, it’s not working.’ But this is the first time we’ve made a record where we didn’t have time to go back.” He laughs. “It’s out of our hands now. The damage is done.”