Indie rock troupe Les Savy Fav hasn’t put out a proper studio album since 2001’s “Go Forth,” but it’s not out of the band’s lack of desire to make one. Well, maybe a little bit.
“We’re not obliged to put more than one record out a year. We can do whatever we want,” vocalist Tim Harrington tells Billboard.com with a laugh. “The band started out as something we did in between classes in college. After that, we played live shows and then put out a record as an afterthought. For the last few, we’ve been busy with other stuff and just didn’t feel like doing another record until we were ready.”
And ready the band is, as it prepares to release “Let’s Stay Friends” on Sept. 18 through longtime home Frenchkiss Records, an indie imprint run by LSF’s bassist Syd Butler. In a first for Les Savy Fav, the record will be distributed by Sony BMG.
“In order for us to survive and grow, we have to step up and this is the record to do it. Frenchkiss has surpassed the ability to get this Les Savy Fav record out to everybody that we want to,” Butler says. While the band is still cautious about its “aggressively independent” status in the rock world, they’re also not keen on being “too precious” with the record (“It’s not like we only want to sell six copies of this thing we’re so proud of,” says Harrington), and thus teamed with Sony BMG.
In addition to recruiting producer Chris Zane, the crew tapped such guests as the Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Freidberger, Islands/Unicorns multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Thorburn, members of Enon, drummer Fred Armisen (better known for his gig on “Saturday Night Live”), Metric frontwoman Emily Haines, Modest Mouse/the Black Heart Procession drummer Joe Plummer and guitarist Andrew Reuland.
But to some degree, recording “Let’s Be Friends” was a challenge for Harrington, who battled writer’s block when the band hit the studio for 10 days in December. “I had just had a kid and my mind wasn’t right for it. Over the holidays, I’d hide away in a spare room and spread out 500 index cards that had fragments of lyrical ideas but couldn’t punch anything out,” Harrington says. The group postponed finishing work until May and banged out the rest of the 12-track set.
LSF will tour this fall, its first stint since supporting “Inches,” a collection of singles and a handful of previously unreleased tunes in 2004. The New York-based band was turned off by life on the road and since then has only played large fests and one-off dates.
“We could only play the same haunts in Seattle or Lawrence, Kan., so many times. We’re re-energized now, though,” Harrington says. The group will play a trio of shows in New York at the end of this month, then head over to Europe in October. A more extensive tour for the end of this year is also in the works.