When Sadie Dupuis quit her teaching job at UMass Amhearst to focus on her band Speedy Ortiz, it wasn’t so she could rub elbows with celebrities. But even she would admit, it’s nice to be noticed.
“Guess who I just texted before I got on the phone?” asks Dupuis on the phone from LA (that’s Los Angeles, not Lower Allston), in response to a question about how comedian Hannibal Burress ended up joining the band on stage as an impromptu drummer at SXSW this year. After he Tweeted an offer for his musical services, the band took him up on it, and he delivered as advertised. “True to his word, he really can’t play drums, but we didn’t care. We were just stoked to hang out with him.”
Celebrity endorsements aside, Dupuis and the band seemed poised for a big summer. The band is set to release their highly anticipated sophomore LP Foil Deer, their first record since guitarist Grass in Green guitarist Devin McKnight replaced Matt Robidoux last year, on Tuesday, followed by a two-month tour that kicks off next Wednesday at The Sinclair alongside Krill and Mitski.
The new album reflects the progression from Major Arcana’s unapologetic veneration of 90’s-indie rock, a progression that less an aesthetic choice than simply a new reality. Looking back two eventful years later, Arcana is a record that Dupuis doesn’t believe the band could make now, nor one that she always likes to revisit.
“I think because I was really only expecting those songs to be heard by my bandmates and my friends, the content is really different,” she says. “We still play a lot of those songs, but there are some that don’t make sense for me personally to play anymore. Some songs I just don’t want to play anymore because I’m at a different part of my life and I don’t want to revisit that stuff necessarily. I think with that in mind, the way that I write songs and the things that I write about has certainly had a bit of a shift. The songs aren’t just for me to write just as a release anymore. Other people are latching on to these things and it’s their release too.”
The conditions to allow that shift seemed to fall in to place over the last year. Taking a break from their relentless touring schedule, the revamped foursome — Dupuis, McKnight, drummer Mike Falcone and bassist Darl Ferm — took over a month (as opposed to four days on Arcana) to craft Foil Deer at Rare Book Room studios in Brooklyn. For a band used to writing for live performance, the ability to experiment and refine songs in the studio was a welcome opportunity.
The tracks released thus far – the fuzzy grit of “Raising the Skate,” the brooding subterranean melodies on “Puffer” – give glimpses of a sleeker, tighter version of Speedy Ortiz the band, but a broader example of Dupuis the singer and songwriter. While retaining the sharp, engaging voice that shone through on Arcana, the songs find inspiration beyond Dupuis’ personal life.
“Even though the personal experience is still rooted to something I might have gone through, I’m trying to write about things that I think are worth talking about on a larger level,” says Dupuis. “I think this is the first time we’ve had a recording that fits what I hear in my head.”
SPEEDY ORTIZ W/ KRILL AND MITSKI. WED 4.22 THE SINCLAIR, 52 CHURCH ST., CAMBRIDGE 617-547-5200. 8PM/18+/$13. SPEEDYORTIZ.BANDCAMP.COM.