Chicago instrumental rock outfit Tortoise is eyeing an early 2004 release for its fifth Thrill Jockey album, multi-instrumentalist John McEntire tells Billboard.com. "We have been working very sporadi
Chicago instrumental rock outfit Tortoise is eyeing an early 2004 release for its fifth Thrill Jockey album, multi-instrumentalist John McEntire tells Billboard.com. "We have been working very sporadically for the past year-and-a-half on material that will constitute a portion of the new record," he says. "We are planning another long-ish session this summer, at which time we will be complete."
Asked to describe the sound of the as-yet-untitled album, McEntire offers, "A lot of the material is still in somewhat embryonic stages, so I don't really know what to tell you." The recording process has been somewhat similar to the band-oriented sessions for the 2001 album "Standards," as opposed to the more cut-and-paste methods of earlier releases.
"We are employing many approaches to writing and recording, basically drawing on relevant past experiences and techniques to make the ideas come to life," McEntire says. "We are definitely still working to a large degree in 'band' mode -- playing live as opposed to overdubbing -- and not focusing so much on the electronics, though that may change."
The group has played a handful of untitled new tracks in its recent live sets. As previously reported, Tortoise will be on hand June 7 at the Field Day Festival in Calverton, N.Y., and June 13 at the Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn.
And although Tortoise recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, McEntire admits he is not the type of musician who enjoys reviewing his back catalog, particularly in a live setting. "I guess it's kind of hard to get excited about relearning older material when in general I think we are all trying to look forward," he says.
However, he says he wouldn't rule out collaborating at some point with former Tortoise members Ken (aka Bundy K.) Brown or Dave Pajo, who exited the group in 1996 and 1998, respectively. "We are all still good friends, and we see those guys fairly regularly," he reports. "Especially now that Dave is in Zwan, he has been in Chicago a lot lately."
McEntire is finishing up a European tour with his other primary band, the Sea & Cake, who will play on the second night of Field Day. He also recently appeared on Azita Youssefi's Drag City album "Enantiodromia," and is planning to do some work behind the boards for upcoming projects by U.S. Maple, the Vells (featuring former Modest Mouse drummer Jeremiah Green), and Savath & Savalas.