For Ben Knox-Miller, the record­ing of The Low An­them’s at­mo­spheric new al­bum in two weird Rhode Is­land houses helped make him as a song­writer. They had to con­tend with bats, elec­tro­cu­tions, and scary toi­let breaks, and be­came ex­perts in fun­gal growth, he

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

BEN Knox-Miller knew things were turn­ing weird for The Low An­them when they first started tour­ing in Europe. Their charm­ing 2008 al­bum Oh My God, Char­lie Dar­win had cer­tainly opened a lot of doors for the Rhode Is­land band at home, but this was Europe. They didn’t know any­one in Europe.

“I was so scep­ti­cal when we started do­ing those first Euro­pean shows,” re­mem­bers the band’s chief vo­cal­ist and song­writer. “Why would some­one come to see us in Ire­land or Eng­land when peo­ple wouldn’t come to see us in Prov­i­dence un­less they knew us per­son­ally? We had been work­ing around Rhode Is­land for a few years, do­ing pubs and sports bars and house con­certs. If we got three gigs a week that was great, be­cause we could cover our rent.

“But we were in­stantly play­ing rooms in Europe with 500-1,000 peo­ple at the show. We had no idea how that hype cul­ture works, and I still don’t know why it worked.”

What­ever The Low An­them were do­ing, peo­ple were re­spond­ing. “I think it didn’t hap­pen any quicker be­cause of the mu­sic,” says Knox-Miller. “I’m sure our man­ager and record la­bels wanted to drum up the hype like with any band, but the mu­sic isn’t some­thing peo­ple will be able to bop their head to. From my per­spec­tive, it does still seem to have hap­pened very fast.”

Knox-Miller is at home in Rhode Is­land pre­par­ing for an­other heavy­weight bout of tour­ing to sup­port new al­bum Smart Flesh. The al­bum, recorded in an aban­doned pasta sauce fac­tory and a garage once oc­cu­pied by a rep­tile breeder, is an­other be­witch­ing set of low-key, at­mo­spheric songs from KnoxMiller, Jeff Prys­towsky, Jo­cie Adams and Mat David­son. As be­fore, the vivid lyrics, spooky airs and glo­ri­ous folky soul will drag you closer to the speak­ers.

For Knox-Miller as song­writer, it was an­other step in his ap­pren­tice­ship. “I’m still rel­a­tively new to song­writ­ing, and have only re­ally done this record and Oh My God, Char­lie Dar­win in a se­ri­ous way. Be­fore those two, there was no real craft to what I was do­ing and I didn’t have much in the way of ideas about what I was do­ing.

“But with these two records, I’ve writ­ten

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