On Wednesday, October 5th, Pepper Rabbit came down to Dallas’s Club Dada with Painted Palms and Braids to perform and to promote their latest album, Red Velvet Snow Ball. I met up with the friendly musical duo, Xander Singh and Luc Laurent, right before Painted Palms opening set. We talked about their tour, the meaning behind their album’s name and art, evolving factors of their work, and Xander’s sweater collection.
Xander: It’s been going great. It’s probably the longest tour we have ever done, but every night has been really fun. We had to pull off two of the shows because we had band trouble, but now we’re back. After three days on the road with no shows, which was a big bummer, we really missed preforming, and we’re really glad to be on stage again. There’s a great dynamic between all of the bands.
So how has it been performing with Braids whose musical style varies a good degree from your own?
Luc: I think it’s beneficial. You don’t really want to open up for a band that does the same thing as you, but people may consider better than yourself. The trio of bands has a good variety that makes our shows more interesting as opposed to having the “little brother” of the “big brother band.”
Xander: It’s also cool to introduce separate fan bases to the other bands. The important thing about touring and live music is getting those other bands’ attention and introducing a new fan base to them.
What is a red velvet snow ball?
Xander: A snowball is a really fancy snow cone that you can get in New Orleans where we recorded our first album. They have finely shaved ice.
Luc: It has a slush like quality. It’s much softer.
Xander: And there’s no cheesy bubble gum ball at the bottom. (laughs)
Why is your album titled Red Velvet Snow Ball?
Xander: For me personally, it was my favorite flavor, and I like how it floats off the tongue and how it is presented on paper. Also, our new album has a bigger pop sound to it, and reflects a feeling of joy, just like how those snow balls brought us joy.
Luc: Yeah, the album itself is much more playful. We actually had the album art work completed before we came up with the album title, and it just seemed to fit the music and the cover art well.
Speaking of which, who designed your album art work?
Luc: A graphic designer friend of ours. We met him randomly in LA outside one of our shows of ours. He actually contacted us after seeing us in a local magazine, and said that if we ever needed a T-shirt design or anything, he’d help us out. So we contacted him to help with the album art work after meeting him. I came up with the idea of the artwork after seeing a painting by James Ensor, and I asked if he’d recreate his work in his own style. We liked how his style was visually playful.
Xander: The first record was a lot of experimentation. A lot of doing and not thinking. Just letting things happen as they would. And the new album was a larger effort to make a complete album, with a lot of meticulous planning and fine-tuning. It was like we had a master plan for what we wanted.
Luc: And the arrangements too. We tried to keep them neater. The first album wasn’t just “let’s jam,” but we just let things take their shape and maybe we’d have longer five minute songs. The new album was a lot more contained.
Xander: Yeah, I remember that we had a rule to try as hard was we could to not have songs that exceeded four minutes in length. I’d say that with most bands that the first record is just figuring out what to do as a band, and that your second record is delivering your sound and doing it right. We came in with this mentality of having a plan for our second album basically.
Is the song in your new album, “In Search of Simon Birch,” alluding to anything besides the movie, if that?
Xander: Honestly, that song was written because we wanted a ten song album, and when we wrote it, the character of Simon Birch wasn’t really behind the meaning. The song title just worked. But after doing a past interview, one of the themes of our work, which I didn’t even initially recognize, is understanding characters that are outsiders. And Simon Birch is definitely an outsider. At first is was just a funny rhyme I made up, but then it just stuck and made more sense as I looked back and analyzed the lyrics we came up with.
Did the idea of expressing yourself and letting things flow naturally as in the recording of Beauregard carry on into your new album?
Xander: I think so. One thing we kept from the first record is the idea of doing the first thing that comes to our mind.
Luc: Just refining those ideas.
Is there a song you are interested in covering?
Luc: We’ve always wanted to do a David Bowie cover, but we haven’t found one that we think we could do justice to. (both laugh)
Xander, I’ve seen in a lot of pictures of you in which you are wearing fantastic sweaters. Where do you get them?
Xander: Mostly thrift store shopping. Whenever I go shopping, I just run my eyes down the line and see if any of them pop out at me. If I see any of them that are just out of this world, I get them knowing that my friends will get a kick out of them at parties. Eventually they end up becoming your entire wardrobe. (laughs)