Some bands possess that unbridled ability to creep under your skin. There’s no explaining it, they just do. The sound waves so good, that you can do nothing but submit.
Whilst the torrent of new music continues, there are always several bands of the past that are dotted throughout the daily listening experience, and Landing are most certainly one of those bands that we’ve been unable to shake off in 2022.
Hypnotic, nostalgic and forever locked the groove, over the past three decades the Connecticut-based four-piece, now consisting of Aaron and Adrienne Snow, Daron Gardner and John Bent, have been key purveyors amongst the DIY landscape.
From the drone-based longform excursions of Oceanless (2001), Brocade (2005) and Third Sight (2016) to the dream-pop ambient splendour of Seasons (2002), Sphere (2004), Landing (2012) and Bells in New Towns (2018), Landing’s music contains all the hallmarks of the most vital sounds from the late ’90s up until now.
Shortly after our look at Landing’s Seasons, which turned 20 earlier this year, band leader Aaron Snow reached out and we got talking. After several exchanges, we decided to set up an interview with Snow answering our questions about Seasons, the band’s longevity, and what the future holds.
Sun 13: As Seasons turned 20 earlier this year, I guess we should start there. What are you memories of recording the album?
Aaron Snow: “We started recording Seasons right after we had moved to Connecticut from Utah. Adrienne and I had been planning to move back east (I’m from New Jersey/ Connecticut) and were thrilled when Daron and Dick decided to come with us. This was an exciting time for us as a band. We had met and played shows with some of our musical idols and were starting to make a name for ourselves. Centrefuge EP and Oceanless encapsulated my vision for what Landing was. I was keen to incorporate more of Dick, Adrienne, and Daron’s aesthetic into the group which lead to a more collaborative effort.
“Seasons was begun in my mom’s basement before Adrienne and I moved to Middletown, where the LP was completed in our attic aka High Mid Recording. It was our first album recorded on our 1/2″ reel to reel Tascam 38, which sounded so much better than the cassette four and eight tracks we’d been using.”
S13: With the benefit of hindsight, do you see the album as a bridge for the band? It opened up a lot of space sonically for you to manoeuvre in later records, I think. Would you agree?
AS: “Yes, without question. Landing began as an offshoot of a project Adrienne and I had been doing, so it took a little while for us to find a way to mesh Dick and Daron’s songwriting into the mix. I had to learn to take a step back from controlling everything and convince them that I wanted them to contribute as much as they felt comfortable with to the songwriting process.
“Dick is an absolutely stellar songwriter, but it took a few years for him to feel like his songs could be Landing songs. Seasons features a handful of his songs, which are among my favourite Landing songs ever. He taught me a lot about guitar playing and songwriting, which still shows up in songs like By Two on Bells In New Towns.
“Nobody is more thoughtful and collaborative than Daron and he started to feel more comfortable, I think, about lending his opinion about song structure and musical direction, which is correct 99 percent of the time. Seasons was a full band effort in every way.”
S13: All throughout your discography, there is a such a modesty to your work. How much do you think your sense identity filters through in Landing’s work?
AS: “We’re all modest and unassuming people, so I guess that can’t help but filter into the band’s identity. Everyone who’s played in the group shares a love for making music, and that’s really all we’ve cared about. Getting attention is fun when it happens, but we’re awful at the ’showbiz’ aspect of being a band and didn’t think much past writing music and playing shows. I’m sure we would have continued making and releasing our own music if no labels had been interested.”
S13: Who and/or what would you consider to be Landing’s biggest influences?
AS: “We’re huge music fans, so it’s really difficult to narrow it down but I’ll do my best off the top of my head: Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Slowdive, Unwound, Tar, Harmonia, Cluster, Spacemen 3, Harold Budd, Stereolab, Windy & Carl, Fuxa, Flying Saucer Attack, Light, Loop, Brian Eno, Grimble Grumble, Low, Transient Waves… and lots more.”
S13: Your approach as a band has always been very DIY. Do you see this as a key aspect to the band’s DNA?
AS: “Being DIY is something that I’m proud of, but it’s not like we had a choice in the matter. Recording studios are expensive. We were broke and I knew how to record decently, so being professionally recorded wasn’t something we ever considered.
“We desperately wanted to tour and since there wasn’t a booking agency willing to help, we took things into our own hands and continued to do so up until we stopped playing live a few years ago. We never assumed that we deserved to be a big deal. Our music has always been incredibly niche, so we always assumed we’d have to be DIY in order to make our art.”
S13: I’ve always wondered about the dynamic being in a band with your spouse. Do you and Adrienne compartmentalise the band from your daily life?
AS: “It can definitely be challenging for us and uncomfortable at times for other members of the group, I’m sure. That being said, I’m incredibly thankful that Adrienne has collaborated as much as she has. Her voice and lyrics always make me so happy. We’ve learned to compartmentalise better and better over the years and have arrived in a place where the band is fun for everyone involved.”
S13: The longevity of a band like Landing is phenomenal, really. Particularly now in an era where making a living off music is so difficult. Do you think about this, or are you of the mindset that you will always make records regardless of what’s going on around you?
AS: “Thinking about the music industry and our lack of success, even though financial success wasn’t what we set out to achieve, only makes me sad. We’ve come very close to packing it in and calling it a day, especially after booking unsuccessful tours, failing to garner reviews, and playing to empty rooms. I think the key to being a band for almost 25 years is to focus on the things that make you happy, so we choose to ignore the depressing aspects in order to be creative. Adrienne, Daron and I still feel thrilled and proud when we make music together. We just don’t do things that make us sad (promoting ourselves, playing shows) anymore.”
S13: Not only the longevity, but the quality you maintain adds to the legend of your band, I think. For instance, I’d say Bells In New Towns is up there with your best records. Do you have any specific memories recording this album?
AS: “Thanks! Bells in New Towns is an example of how we work nowadays. I had a bunch of new song ideas that I started recording at home. Adrienne chose which songs she wanted to sing on and I sung on the ones she didn’t. Daron came up with some very cool bass parts and worked with me on song structure, mixing, and album sequencing. The difference with Bells is that we decided to spend a day at Sonelab with Justin Pizzoferrato recording drums, bass, and synth over my home recordings. It was fun to get a taste of how ’real’ bands operate!”
S13: Have your songwriting methods changed over the years?
AS: “Our methods were ingrained early on. By the time we’d recorded Circuit we had been doing songs based on improvisation/collage and more ’songy’ songs. Those two methods are still what we use to come up with new material. Some releases are more song based, some are more improvisational, but it’s usually a decent mix of both.”
S13: And what about writing challenges; has it become easier to write as you grow older?
AS: “I can only speak for myself but in my opinion, it’s become way more difficult. I’m more jaded and less enthusiastic than I used to be, so it’s harder to convince myself that something I’m working on is good. Also, our back catalogue is huge and we try to do new things, so that only gets more challenging.”
S13: Your Monthly Subscription series on Bandcamp is such a lovely idea. Just how important is a platform like Bandcamp to a band such as yours?
AS: “After our final tour, which was really tough on me because I felt like a failure, we decided that we could either quit or try to focus on what makes us happy to be in a band. The subscription series flowed out of that idea and has been a joy to work on. The fact that it’s on Bandcamp is unimportant, really. We would have pressed up some tapes and given them to friends if Bandcamp wasn’t an option. Bandcamp doesn’t write about Landing or promote us at all, but they’re convenient. That being said, we actually do make a few bucks on Bandcamp, which is pretty nice.”
S13: Finally, are you working on any new material?
AS: “Besides the Subscription Series, we have an album in the works. We’re in no hurry to finish it, though. Dick Baldwin is writing new music and we have very tentative plans to work with him in the future. Things move glacially slow for us at this stage, though. We do what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it, except for the Subscription tracks which have a deadline.”