When Parlor Walls started as a duo, their appetite for experimentalism was there, but it was their aggression that steered their songs. On their 2014 EP Suspenseful Music tracks barreled ahead with pummeling drums and a crunchy guitar. Approximately one year later they released another EP (Cut) showcasing a new range of textures, and much more restrained composure. The songs unfold in layers, and silence is introduced as a tool to push and pull the songs. New member and saxophonist Kate Mohanty’s versatility shines as she jumps from rhythm to melody to frantic somersaulting. In their debut full length, Opposites, on Northern Spy Records, their original aggression returns, but with an exacting patience. Alyse explains,”We wanted to create opposing sounds, occupying each end of the spectrum, and make them coexist together.”
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What was the genesis of Parlor Walls?
Chris: I was in a band called Shark. I played guitar in that band, and Alyse was in Eula, and that’s how we met. Both of our bands used to play together a lot. We were both in rock bands and we wanted to do something a little different because we both love noisey music and electronic stuff. We wanted to play more aggressive music but also more minimal. We were a duo for the first year.
Alyse: We were playing loud, fast, and getting a lot of aggression out. Then it moulded into about five or six songs and we recorded an EP called Suspenseful Music. [Laughs]. It’s supposed to be funny. Then we met Kate. We saw a solo saxophone set of hers and really dug it a lot. At first she just played on a few of our songs live. A lot of improv. We did the EP Cut in 2015, and she’s on that. And the new one, Opposites, she’s on that, too. Our goal is to have a collaboration with other musicians coming and going. Exploring different sounds and themes.
Chris: There might not always be saxophones. There might be other people. You might be on the next album [Laughs].
Did you change or adapt any of your parts to make room for Kate’s saxophone in the songs?
Chris: “Cover Me” is a good example of a song that was given more space to showcase her personality. I think it’s more noticeable live than on the record.
Alyse: We give each other lots of space during our live shows. We’ll extend parts to allow for more improvisation, or one of us will drop out completely to let another one flourish.
We’ll extend parts to allow
for more improvisation,
or one of us will drop out completely
to let another one flourish.
You talk about wanting to start this band to play more aggressive music. I don’t think of Eula as a soft band at all. What do you think the main differences are?
Alyse: Parlor Walls is a collaboration between Chris and I, we write the music as a unit. EULA’s music came from a singular place.
Chris: I certainly felt pressure when we started to not let people down who were already fans of EULA. So I wanted things to be even heavier and faster, but later realized that’s not really what this is about. It was a good crutch to lean on while we figured out who we were. I think some main differences are that we give songs a little more space. EULA was a relentless punch to the face, which was exhilarating. Now we are trying to convey that same feeling in the quiet space between the chaos.