Lead singer Dia Frampton talks about making the band’s new, Mozart-titled album Here, Here and Here, struggling with writer’s block, drawing inspiration from literature, and just being yourself.
So your new record came out a couple weeks ago. How does it feel to finally have it out there?
It feels great. It’s been a year since we recorded it. You’re finally waiting for that day for it to come out. It’s amazing how time flies.
The title of your new record is Here, Here and Here, which I believe is a Mozart reference. How did you arrive at that?
Meg had read some quotes from him in a book she was reading and it just really inspired her. He was talking about how music is from here, here and here – your heart and your mind and your ears. She ended up writing a song called “Here, Here and Here.” The album wasn’t even titled that, but it just made sense, I guess.
What is the writing process like for you?
The writing process on this record changed from our last record. On our last record, Meg wrote probably 85 percent of the record herself, and then the rest was just me popping in with little ideas here and there. This new record, I would say is mostly 50/50. I wrote some songs completely all by myself, like “Inside My Head” or “Going Away.” She did the same thing with songs like “Here, Here and Here” and “Agree to Disagree.” There was a lot of just going off on our own and doing that.
Then there were songs like “What If” or “One Sail,” where I would write something and listen to it and it wouldn’t get finished. Then she’d kind of expand on it, and write lyrics to a bridge or finish a chorus. Things like that. So, we did a lot more collaborating together on this record with each other because we usually go off on our own in our own little worlds.
You made a post online a few weeks ago about how you were having trouble coming up with song ideas at one point. What was that like to go through?
It’s hard to write songs like that for me. I mean, I never have trouble coming up with ideas unless I’m on a deadline. I never worry about not having plenty of ideas because they just come as they come, you know? But when it’s time for a new record to come out, and you want to be writing as many songs a possible, then it gets stressful. Meg actually works better under pressure a little bit as far as writing songs goes. I’m the complete opposite.
At times, it’s hard to draw inspiration. When that happened, I actually drew inspiration from this really amazing book called Brave New World that I read at the time by a really great author. I’m constantly doing that. If I can’t find inspiration in my own life, I’ll look to other people’s lives. I think there’s so much to learn from reading about other people’s lives in their biographies, autobiographies or just any works of fiction even.
I know both you and your sister are pretty avid readers. Have you read anything good lately?
Right now I’m reading a book called Into the Wild. It’s a great book. Meg’s been reading Atlas Shrugged again, for like the fifth time. I just read Jeff Buckley’s biography, A Pure Drop, which was really cool, and I read Persuasion by Jane Austen. I’m a really big fan of old world literature. Books are always floating around between us, especially in the van on tour.
What’s your favorite books of all time?
My favorite books would be anything by Victor Hugo – Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Toilers of the Sea. I think he’s amazing. Anything by Ernest Hemingway. I think he’s a great writer. Also, C.S. Lewis is amazing. All of his fantasy works, like The Chronicles of Narnia, and even his Christian literature. I’m not a Christian myself, but I’ve always been interested in theology. He writes really well in that vein as well, and I think he’s amazing in that.
The last record was really influenced a lot literature wise, but I believe the only one on this record like that is “Hug Me.”
That title, “Hug Me Till You Drug Me,” is actually a song title in the book Brave New World. At that time when I was writing, I just thought, you know, this is an unfinished song. They’re singing it in the book all the time. I thought it was really intriguing. I started the whole entire song with the title. I just had the title and a blank piece of paper, and I thought, what does this book mean to me and what do I think that song would have sounded like? I just kind of wrote it like that. I don’t know. It was interesting, I guess.
The new album is a lot more textured and layered than your previous work. Did you have more time and more of a budget to work with on this one?
Yeah, definitely as far as the budget. We had a lot more time, too, and plus I feel like it’s been a couple years. Our last record, we even had different band members besides Nick, our drummer, who’s been with us from the beginning for five years. We’ve had a lot of changeups and finally it felt like we had a family. We felt comfortable, and we could feed off each other’s energy. I think that made it go a lot quicker. It was definitely a lot more stress free in that vein.
You worked with Howard Benson, one of the biggest producers out there. What was that experience like?
It was amazing. He’s such a great guy. He let us be ourselves. He’d kind of take our ideas and amplify them. He let Meg, for the most part, do a lot of preproduction all by herself and didn’t really touch anything. He’d make little suggestions.
As far as vocals went, it was really fun to work with him there. He has the most crazy stories about artists he’s worked with, or tours or anything like that. We picked him because he’s been doing it for such a long time, you know? We knew there’d be a lot to learn from him, and there definitely was.
You’re also on a major label now, Sire Records. How’s that been working out so far?
It’s been good. I still feel like it’s a small family. There are more people working here, but as far as the people we know and work with, there’s a handful of them, kind of the same as when we were on Doghouse Records. You know the family. You know everybody. You hang out with everybody. Everybody’s been really cool. It’s been a really good experience.
Outside of literature, what else do you draw from and get inspiration from?
I like watching movies. I think those are very inspirational in different ways. I like watching foreign films a lot because I think it’s cool to see different types of culture. Seven Beauties and I’m Not Scared – movies like that are really cool. It’s also just other musicians. Tom Petty – I love listening to him. I think he’s amazing. Watching live DVDs of him too is something we’ve been doing a lot lately.
What’s life like out on the road? Do you try and keep things pretty neat and clean?
It’s hard to shower on the road, I’m not going to lie. I get really homesick a lot. One of the toughest things is trying to cope with staying in touch with friends, family or mothers. We’re always calling our moms at home, and if we have significant others, we’re trying to call girlfriends, or boyfriends or whatever. It’s really hard to have a normal relationship on the road, but it’s great to meet new people and always be in a different city.
Right now there seems to be a lot of pop-punk bands out there, as well as a rise of female-fronted groups. What do you think allows Meg & Dia to be different and stand out?
It’s really hard to say. I think our forte is we really try to focus on lyrics. We love writing lyrics and being honest. I find whenever we try to stick out, it ends up being corny and weird. We just have to be ourselves. We’re very reserved as people and just want to keep playing the music that we like, I guess [laughs]. Things like that.
Originally appeared on Mammoth Press