Boris Smile Are Amped Up
Call him the Raymond Carver of indie pop: A. Wesley Chung, the front man and primary songwriter of the Long Beach octet Boris Smile, fashions songs like a short-story author, penning quick narratives set to compact chamber-pop tunes. Sonically, it's kind of a Neutral Milk Hotel-meets-Sufjan Stevens vibe: gravelly guitars backed by ensemble arrangements. Boris Smile are set to release their third full-length since 2007 this month, a prodigious 23-track chronicle of Chung's recent eight-month stay in the U.K. titled My Love Powered by 10,000 Practice Amps.
OC Weekly: Tell me about your stay in the U.K. What were you doing there?
A. Wesley Chung: I was working and studying at an international communal living center in a manor house in the south of England. So the album is about that year and the people I met along the way.
The title sounds like it has a story behind it.
It came from the idea that my heart felt so full of love for the people I met that the only way I could express my gratitude would be plugging 10,000 practice amps into my heart and let the world be drowned in a cacophony of sonic joy.
You've had lots band mates come and go since forming in 2004. What's the best part about having lots of musicians around you, and what's the most challenging aspect of that?
The best part is having so many new ideas from people that hear the song in an entirely different way than I do. The worst thing about it is scheduling—trying to get eight people to do anything together on any specific day is extremely difficult.
Boris Smile get compared to the Shins, Sufjan Stevens, Avi Buffalo and the Decemberists.
What I love about all these bands is that through their music they create narratives that draw you into the world they've created. They are telling a story with their lyrics and music, and it's really captivating. I don't particularly think we sound like the Shins, and I'm not as familiar with the Decemberists discography. The other two make more sense since Sufjan is one of my favorites and Avi is our guitar player.
Your press material says your 2010 Rockets EP was released to "mostly positive" reviews. Did someone slam you guys? How do you respond to negativity?
[Laughs] We didn't get slammed; just some reviewers harped on certain aspects of the record that was us trying something new. We had never done all instrumental tracks before, and thought that they would aid the story we were trying to tell with the space concept of the last EP. Apparently it was too much for some reviewers.
At the end of the day, you just got to do what you like and hope people connect with it. I wouldn't be releasing a 23-track record if I was too concerned with reviewers.
What are some of the weirdest live-show experiences you've had thus far?
Probably a middle-school dance and a funeral reception. Though, we are playing a 10-year high school reunion soon, which I'm sure will fall into this category.
What annoys you most about playing music?
Hard work doesn't always pay off.
This column appeared in print as "Amped Up."
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