Caspian's instrumental post-rock is both epic and pretty. The band's latest album, Waking Season, is filled with huge crescendos, striking melodies and intelligent arrangements that incorporate keyboards, bass, drums, samples and three guitars. In fact, it's so impressive that Spin named it the best post-rock album of 2012. I asked guitarist Erin Burke-Moran about the group's approach to their craft before their March 13 show at the High Noon Saloon.
How did you go about developing the music for Waking Season?
Our basic formula is that somebody will come in with an idea. For a while the sonic instructor was our guitarist Phil Jamieson. He'd have some kind of foundation to start with, and we'd just work at it for hours and hours. The technology we've been interested in allowed us to do stuff with the iPhone. We'd record a practice, listen to it, digest it for a couple days, and then come back at it again.
Is there room for all three guitars to improvise, or are their parts meticulously plotted out?
Most of the parts are written out, but there's some subtle stuff we mix up from show to show, little melodic things or rhythms. So there's always a solid foundation for how a song is to be performed.
Trying to play with three guitars, it was a little tough to wrap our heads around it at first. But as we worked through [2009's] Tertia, we came up with stuff that worked. We do a lot of things where all three of us play the same thing, or two of us play the same thing. We try to give each other space, and it's kept us quite aware of what we're doing at any given moment. Otherwise, we can clash easily.
How do you translate your studio recordings into live performances?
Most of the stuff where we have extra sounds on the record is worked into samples that we use when we perform live, but the guitars can take a little more of the forefront.