Brooklyn-based duo The Sufis return with After Hours, a thrills-packed LP inspired by the misfits, scenarios and anything goes attitude of the Big Apple. Duncan Fletcher stays up after bedtime.
Calvin Laporte and Evan Smith have been collaborating as The Sufis since meeting at university. “We have very different approaches,” says Calvin, “Evan's formally trained and I mostly play by ear. We're kinda like Yin and Yang or Bert and Ernie haha! ... Neither of us has many strengths musically speaking, eventually we'd like to hire session musicians to just focus on writing and arranging.”
The Sufis' third and latest LP After Hours disputes this modesty with its scene-setting lyrics and infectious take on soul, disco and reggae rhythms. Such eclecticism is explained by an open-mindedness when consuming music. Says Calvin - “I get bored listening to the same band or album over and over again, so I'm always hopping between genres in search of something new. Nothing's off limits as long it's a good song with a genuine feeling behind it. My favourite albums are ones that have variety like Tusk or Sign 'O' The Times.”
The Sufis' previous albums were made in Nashville but a move to Brooklyn provided fresh inspiration. “There’s an energy in New York that's unlike anything I've experienced anywhere else” says Evan. “You have to go through so much just to play drums for example, so once you're at the studio you want to make sure you get something good. The record stores are amazing too so when we weren't playing or writing we were spoilt by all the great stuff to dig through.”
The move also enabled tuition from a left-field legend. “Before we started working on After Hours I spent half a year working and studying with La Monte Young at his loft in Tribeca. A lot of the songs are about those times” say Calvin. Despite such mentoring, After Hours is anything but avant-garde or minimalist, and draws inspiration from across the musical spectrum. “I was listening to a lot of jazz and soul,” says Calvin. “I always look up to writers like Smokey Robinson, Allen Toussaint and Wayne Shorter. We were really into Tin Pan Alley and Brill Building writers too. I remember putting on a lot of '80s and '90s Lou Reed after recording sessions haha!”
“I was heavily inspired by the session work of Aynsley Dunbar and the songs of Leiber and Stoller, as well as Hoagy Carmichael” adds Evan, “along with Burt Bacharach's arrangements and Linda McCartney's synth lines.”
After Hours is preceded by a single, 'All Knowing (71)'. Calvin explains the number's significance - “That's a reference to a chapter in the Tao Te Ching. I'm always trying to remind myself that I don’t know anything. I used to be a voracious reader, but lately I just read the Tao over and over. The instrumental section was inspired by Philip Glass and is meant to represent the paradox in the second part of the chapter.”
“While making the record we became fascinated with the Tao and read it constantly, we still do” says Evan. “I guess I'm always trying to destroy my ego even if I fail most of the time, and that's what the song is kinda about.”
After Hours is out now on Burger Records.
Check out The Sufis Favourites Spotify playlist below, and click over the jump to read the full interview.
(Click over the jump to read the full interview)