Subverting the glitz and glamor of the city’s wealthy, Los Angeles’ Sprain instead seek out raw and dynamic sounds that focus on a visceral edge further marked by their live performances. Initially formed by April Gerloff and Alex Kent in 2018, the two have expanded to a four piece with drummer Max Pretzer and guitarist Alex Simmons adding to their cacophonous project with their debut album set to be released this Friday off San Francisco-based imprint The Flenser. Transitioning to a greater collective and collaborative entity has aided in the quartet exploring vast sonic territory for their record As Lost Through Collision in a cohesive and positive environment. “I think there was an intent to stray away from what was considered the typical sound of a classic slowcore record, which is what a lot of people had pigeonholed our [self-titled] EP as”, remarks Kent. “There was a conscious effort to incorporate the other influences that we have while still retaining a slowcore sound. The end product came out more dissonant, more heavy, more cerebral, and all around more aggressive.”
When it comes to their writing process and structuring songs, Sprain harness their intention and creativity in an often deliberate and steadfast manner, honing in on restraints that ultimately work to serve as a chaotic instrumental upheaval of urgency. “Someone brings forth the initial impetus to create, and then we all work on it until it becomes a tangible piece of music”, states Kent. “That will take us months, years sometimes. We’re pretty particular about the way things are arranged.” Being on the road and playing in differing venues while on tour has helped the band to reinforce what aspects of their live performance can be eliminated and which ones become an integral part of of their set.
When asked about playing livestreams since the start of the pandemic, Gerloff and Kent echo sentiments of straying away from the virtual side of things. “Personally, the last thing I want to do is be on the internet anymore right now”, emphasizes Kent. “And I don’t want to make other people be on the internet either […] There’s a difference between going on YouTube and watching a band you like live, right? Because there’s people there, there’s this interaction and dichotomy and chemistry between the audience and performer. But that’s not seen when you’re just live-streaming because you’re playing to no one, as opposed to a taping where people are there.” Despite the lack of shows and interaction taking place, Gerloff highlights the importance and impact that electronic artists can take advantage of during these times by providing an experience that would be difficult to capture and construe in reality. “As an electronic musician [during my time in Austin, Texas], I was struggling to find ways to make my experience and set impactful”, reflects Gerloff. “I came full circle realizing that you have to make that type of music performative in its own way, you can’t make it like a band. For electronic musicians, this is a great opportunity to redefine performances. But for a band like Sprain, being in a room where amps are vibrating and where there’s feedback and elements of a live show, I think that’s out of our reach to capture [via live-stream].”
With their debut album complete and new songs already underway, Sprain have been keeping active despite the hiatus the music industry finds itself in. Considering the myriad ways the field may have to reinvent and redefine itself, Gerloff poses hope that more companies can assert themselves and aid in financially helping musicians like Bandcamp has been doing for their monthly Bandcamp Day, where they waive their revenue shares so musicians can keep a greater amount of their profits. “It would be really great to see companies like Spotify participate and be a part of the culture instead of their CEO saying ‘just put out more music’, she stresses. “I would like to see that change happen now, because tech companies are in a position to be more helpful than they’re currently being.” In regards to long term changes, Gerloff cites how little care the city puts into small businesses and venues in her current hometown of Los Angeles and how the vast majority of artists struggle financially with many not being able to afford basic health care. The government offering financial relief and consciously offering their support would fundamentally be one step in the right direction. “I would really just like for these venues to be here when everything opens.”
You can pre-order As Lost Through Collison ahead of its September 4th release here.