We caught up with Jack Cooper from Ultimate Painting to discuss their new album Dusk.
Dusk was released last year. How does this record differ from your previous release?
I think we were trying to make something that had a more cohesive mood than the first two albums which were more like collections of songs. I had some songs that we canned because they didn't necessarily fit in with where we thought it was heading, which could be summed up fairly well by the album title.
You are in the midst of a European tour. What are some challenges faced during a tour overseas?
There are too many challenges to even begin to list. Dealing with your own insecurities and anxieties and then balancing that with the insecurities and anxieties of 3 other people but saying that... the good always outweighs the bad by a long way, which is why we keep doing it. We have a lot of fun and we seem to attract like minded sweethearts who share a similar outlook.
Recording a third album separates you from plenty of good bands out there that don't make it to this point in their career. What are the things you believe helped you reach this point as a band and be able to maintain a successful songwriting dynamic?
Well I think generally speaking we're equal partners on most levels. Some people like James' songs more than mine and vice versa, so we're fortunate like that. We try and maintain a fair split, so neither of us ever has to come up with an album's worth of songs. I think a lot of bands have one good songwriter and that can be a lot of pressure.
Ultimate Painting has a distinct and unique sound. How do you keep a unique sound after three albums that have influenced other groups to adopt your sound?
I'm not sure what you mean... has our sound influenced other groups? I have no idea. You'd have to ask other groups but we certainly have a lot of people in bands who like us, which is really cool. I don't like to think of us as a band's band but sometimes it feels like that a bit.
Your records seem to embrace minimalist instrumentation and have a real easy-going aesthetic attached to them. Do you set out to make the most out of a few instruments during the writing and recording? Do you limit yourselves to a certain amount of layers or tracks during the writing process?
We're limited by working on an 8-track tape machine. We can bounce things a little bit but then you start to lose fidelity. I think working like that is probably the most influential aspect of the band. The limitations it puts on us in regards to the amount of track we have, the difficulties in editing, etc., etc...
You're a duo. How do you handle the collaboration during songwriting and recording? Is it always a collaborative process or do each of you take on a different role for these processes?
Yeah it's pretty much 50/50 down the line and then there's varying degrees of collaboration on each song. We switch between who plays which guitar and then maybe I'll come up with a keyboard melody - it changes. There might even be a song like "Riverside" where I literally only sing on it and then something like "Ultimate Painting" where I brought it to James with all the guitars... in fact the riff from that was how it started. That's probably the hook.
What type of things most influence your songwriting and recording? Are there people, places, or things that dramatically impact your creativity either for good or for bad?
I think travel seems to influence me a lot. It usually puts some kind of perspective on things. I usually get a song out of New York every time I'm there.