Neulore is a Nashville-based alternative indie folk duo whose music ranges from gritty and anthemic to lush and intimate. If you like cookie-cutter music with hollow lyrics and bland instrumentation, then this is not the band for you.
As their Germanic moniker (“new lore”) implies, Neulore aims to tell stories—real stories. They deal with concepts as grand as the beginning of human history and as familiar as grappling with family issues. Neulore’s music draws you in because it is a clear and honest window into the struggles and successes of their lives.
We got the chance to chat with Neulore about their unusual origin, their inspirations, and their upcoming EP—which releases this Friday. Check it out!
Emily Cardé: How did you guys get started writing music together?
William T. “Tyler” Cook: It really started out of necessity. I didn’t have any part in the first EP; we started playing together after it was already out. But then we needed new music, so we started writing new songs together. And through that process, we had to figure out how to work together. [We had] completely opposite personalities and processes that we preferred.
Emily: So does one of you write the music and the other one write the lyrics, or is that a joint process?
Adam Agin: I’d say it’s pretty 50/50. We definitely both have ideas in both departments, so it really depends on the song. Tyler’s definitely more of a multi-instrumentalist than me, so he comes up with lots of different musical ideas.
There was a phase where I was [running up against] a sort of writer’s block, so that was a season when Tyler was coming up with most of the ideas. And when one of us gets inspired, the roles switch. It all depends on what’s going on in our personal lives.
Tyler: We generally come up with nuggets of inspiration, and then we come together to write it up. There might be something else that one of us has been working on that would fit well with it. Or we might play a cool idea, go “What does that make you think of?” and then write from there.
Adam: We may start something separately, but we always finish the songs together. So both of us are very involved in all aspects.
Ethan: It doesn’t seem like your music fits neatly into a particular category. Is that intentional? What do you aim for as far as your musical sound?
Adam: I think we pride ourselves on [the fact that] every song sounds different. We were doing the major label thing, and they asked us to copy ourselves at one point, and we really hated that. We’re not writing the same songs over and over.
We’re constantly being inspired by something new. I’m very visual, so I see a scene in my head and I hear how it sounds. [And for me] that scene has changed a lot. For a while it had a very rural feeling, very much in the woods. And now, for some reason, I’m inspired by cityscapes and skylines and dirty dumpsters and back alleys. So with the sounds we use, the effects we use, we try to make the music fit the description of the movie that’s playing in my head.
Emily: You say something similar on your website, when you talk about how “Animal Evolve” is a soundtrack for a movie that doesn’t exist. Could you tell us a bit more about that album?
Tyler: That record is about a crossroads of two different tribes. It’s like a beginning of time movie. You have two brothers who decide they want different things in life. One of them wants to be more independent, raw, and animalistic; and the other one wants to be pure and reverent. It’s about what happens when you decide to rebel and go down that destructive path—what it does to you and all the people that care about you.
So there’s a lot of animalistic imagery, based around people living in a time when tribes were a thing. There were no countries. You decided which faction you identified with and lived your life accordingly.
Adam: And that statement about the album being a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist—we did that in the studio. We would talk about these tribes and these relationships that we had created, and we tried to make it sound like this story that we had in our heads.
Another thing that we did while we were recording was to get a big projector and put on old war films—to inspire us and help us make the sound fit our vision.
Ethan: Your first album, “Apples and Eve,” is pretty clearly about the Garden of Eden and the fall of mankind. So with all the animalistic beginning-of-time imagery and the warring factions, is “Animal Evolve” the next step in the story?
Adam: I would say so.
Tyler: Yeah, it’s an introduction to when humans are thrown out on their own. It’s the first time they have to deal with free will and being allowed to choose whether you want to respect your father or not, for example—everything you go through as a teenager. Whatever path you go down is your decision, and it will affect you and everyone around you.
Emily: Of all the songs that you’ve written, which one has been the most meaningful to you?
Adam: For me, it’s probably one of the songs we haven’t released yet. We’ve kind of taken a turn in our story. A lot of our band dynamic has been about us finding our relationship. In a way we had to work backwards. Most bands are best friends from high school, and they just grow up together. Tyler and I were the opposite. We didn’t start this band on a friendship; we started this band on mutual respect and talent. So it’s been a long process of figuring out our friendship. And I’m really happy to say I feel like we’ve gotten into a good groove relationally. But it’s really affected our songwriting. We’re 30-year-old dudes now; we’ve gone through a lot of crap. So we’re starting to deal with our stuff. We’re starting to write about our own lives, and not so much about these big concepts and ideas.
One song that sticks out to me is one that’s either going to be called “Escape” or “Get By.” It’s a lot about my childhood and forgiving my parents. My childhood was just a mess. Money was a big issue in my home, and my dad was always mad, so there were always fights between my parents about money. There’s a line in that song about that. And I know when we start playing it live, it’s going to be hard to sing it every night. But it’s one of my favorites, because it’s so honest.
Tyler: On the EP that we’re about to release, there’s a song called “The Lightning” that is very connected to where I’m at. I’ve had to deal with my parents getting older. We never realized my dad was a narcissist until his health went downhill. And I had to be his caretaker for about 3 months last year. It was like fighting to get someone to try to live when he’s lost the willpower. There’s only so much you can do for a person, unless that person is willing to take the initiative to help himself.
The chorus of that song goes:
I can’t save you if you won’t save yourself
I can’t help you if you won’t help yourself
When we wrote it, it was actually more about Adam’s dad. But whenever I played it for my dad, he was ‘with it’ enough to say, “Oh, that’s about me, right?” And I’d go, “No it’s not about you . . . but it should be now.”
I feel like we’re writing songs now that, when we sing them live, we feel more connected to because they are really honest. They delve into the things we’ve been through in our late 20s—things like wrestling with disappointment with your parents and the way they raised you. And then once you hit 30, you realize that everyone’s doing the best that they can; no one has life figured out. At some point you just accept that your parents did the best that they knew how, and move towards trying to understand what kind of person that made you.
Ethan: And that’s the direction that this next EP is going?
Adam: Yeah, that’s a lot of where that’s at. Instead of a full-length record, we’re doing a series of EPs all in the same kind of world. So there will be 20 songs out over the next 2 years.
Ethan: Your latest single, “The Lightning,” seems to be a little more musically upbeat than your past stuff. Are you going in a different musical direction with your new project?
Adam: It’s definitely evolving—no pun intended. We’re not really afraid to try new stuff. And we’re inspired by new stuff. Honestly, “The Lightning” has been written for about two or three years now. We were kind of handicapped for a while with having a major label. And so we’re really just trying catch up with the music that we’ve been writing for a while, to finally get it out.
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