The longer you work at something, the easier it is to remain in a comfortable groove. This is especially true in the musical world, which is dominated by a pretty entrenched album cycle format. Put out a new record, tour, rest, write, record; put out a new record, tour, rest, write, record and so on. For their latest musical endeavor, Belle And Sebastian have decided to break out of that easy formula. Instead of releasing a sprawling, 15-track double record like they might have otherwise, the band has instead collected their new material into a trio of different EPs titled How To Solve Our Human Problems.
Beginning next month on December 8, the Scottish outfit plans to put out a brand new five-track record each month for three months. Its an innovative way to share their new music with the world, one designed to break through the avalanche of new releases, while also harkening back to the earliest, most formative years of their career, when beloved shorter records like Lazy Line Painter Jane and Dog On Wheels were the norm.
Recently, I had the chance to talk to Belle And Sebastian’s frontman Stuart Murdoch about this new/old release strategy, how the band has evolved across the last two decades on the road and in the studio, and how a slim book of Buddhist teachings helped inform and clarify their latest musical offerings.
The new project is called How To Solve Our Human Problems, which comes across as a very ambitious statement.
I borrowed that title from a book, and part of the reason I used it was because, yes, I thought it was ambitious. In fact, it’s kind of ridiculous. There’s something kind of funny about it. Something kind of naive about it. I mean really, how are you gonna solve our human problems? It’s not gonna happen. But this book, and it’s a slim book, sought out to tell you in a Buddhist sort of way about how we can do just that?