Brooklyn band to perform at Mike ‘N Molly’s

The July release of “You’re Always On My Mind” marks many firsts for the Brooklyn-based A Great Big Pile of Leaves. Developing into a more focused, indie-rock sound, the sophomore album was their first full-length under Topshelf Records, with the guidance of an outside producer and written and recorded as a quartet after the addition of guitarist Matt Fazzi in 2012.

The Daily Illini interviewed bassist Tucker Yaro to discuss the making of their recent album, its promotional touring and what’s next for the rising rock band.

The Daily Illini: What was it like writing and recording this album under a label and outside producer Ed Ackerson in comparison to your first DIY album from 2010, “Have You Seen My Prefrontal Cortex?”

Tucker Yaro: That was a totally different process for us versus self production, which, for our previous full-length album, lasted over a year. I think the songs came out a little different; I don’t know if it’s the process of growing as writers or it was guided by the process of being apart while we were doing it. But I think it’s a good direction. This time around, we were kind of under the pressure of time and paying for time, and I think that streamlined the final product a lot. We had to make decisions in that moment. And so that ended up streamlining our ideas down to a more cohesive, kind of pop-rock sound. And (Ackerson) was just the best to work with for us because he totally respected our group dynamic.

DI: Did the recent addition of Fazzi affect the writing and recording process at all?

TY: Well, Matt brings a lot to the table. The biggest thing, I think the most obvious thing, is the vocal harmony. We really focus on kind of doubling it in an octaves-sense, and Matt’s contribution to the group comes out so strongly in the vocal arrangements. And then I think he’s a tremendous performer; he just brings a whole element of life to our live performance.

DI: I read that Justin Pierre (Motion City Soundtrack) stopped in the studio to add guest vocals to “Pet Mouse.” What was that experience like?

TY: That was great. I know he’s someone that we all look up to. I’ve listened to his music for many, many years, (and) our first tour as a band was with Motion City Soundtrack; that’s how we got to know him. We were thrilled when he said he’d be willing to come down. He learned the parts … you know, we sent him some parts and he came in knowing those and having some ideas and we had a lot of fun.

DI: I saw the song was nominated and won the 2013 Independent Music Award Vox Pop Poll for Indie Rock Song of the year. What was it like to get such a positive response from fans and be nominated from the judging panel?

TY: It was totally flattering and really such a nice thing for us to receive. It was a surprise, you know, I didn’t expect to get an award like that, but when we found out that we were nominated, we thought to ourselves, ‘Oh, well, that was nice. I’m sure it won’t go anywhere.’ Because we’re kind of like a quirky band, you know? (laughs)

DI: After releasing several acoustic EPs in 2011, how has it been playing your LP’s pop-rock material live? Is there anything special planned for Saturday’s show in Champaign?

TY: We’ve been working on some new songs for the record, and I think we’re going to debut them on this tour — songs that we’ve never performed before. (Attendees can look forward to) new material, a lot of energy and especially those new vocal harmonies. Trying to achieve those live has been really rewarding and entertaining for us and hopefully entertaining for the audience.

DI: How would you describe you performance style?

TY: We like to have a little improvisation as part of our set, and we’ve always been doing that. I think it speaks a lot about who we are as musicians. We don’t like to have everything pre-composed and ready to go. That album is a recording and is just a moment in time. Your feelings and relationships with the songs keep changing. So we like to bring that out in the form of changing things up and improvising, and I think that brings a fresh part to our performance for people that have seen us a few times.

DI: Are there any plans for AGPOL after this tour ends?

TY: We’ve talked about doing some more touring; we’re about to announce a new tour that’ll take us all over the United States in the early part of next year. (Guitarist and vocalist) Pete (Weiland)’s been working on a lot of new material that he’s slowly divulging to us, which is exciting. We’re all interested in doing another acoustic album; that’s another idea that we’ve been kicking around. But that remains to be seen what it will turn out to be.