The Pauses mix a disparate blend of influences: taut indie pop, shiny electronica, soaring melodies, knotty arrangements. Included in that are dashes of complex math rock, bleeding heart emo, even a little post-hardcore thrash. If you look for the right flavor, you’ll probably find it somewhere on their new album, Unbuilding. Recorded with underground punk icon J. Robbins, The Pauses—vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Tierney Tough, multi-instrumentalist Jason Kupfer, and drummer Nathan Chase—liken Unbuilding to a complete tear-down and rebuild of the band’s sound, taking their time writing and recording the follow-up to 2011 debut A Cautionary Tale. But Unbuilding crackles with creative electricity, ricocheting from sticky ear candy to propulsive guitar heft while mixing traditional instruments like trumpets, timpani, cello and Theremin with new-school electronics and warped vocals.
Folio Weekly: How important was it for The Pauses to be so patient writing and recording Unbuilding?
Tierney Tough: It was important for us to put this record together the way we wanted to do it, but it was also important for us to have more help this time. We found ourselves really wanting to put a record together, but it was a slow process. I was working [as] a hired gun; Jason was working on films. Things got in the way. Once we gave ourselves a deadline, though, we accomplished it. We recorded the album with J. Robbins, then spent a while looking for a label. Once we found Arctic Rodeo, a really sweet label from Germany run by two guys who were so kind and excited about Unbuilding, it made sense. We wanted to work with someone who was going to put in the work and care about the album for the long-term.
Jason, do you think Unbuilding represents major instrumental growth from 2011’s A Cautionary Tale?
Jason Kupfer: It [does], because we had a focused idea of taking our sound from the first album and expanding on it. We didn’t want to Radiohead the album and go off in a completely different direction, but we did want to have some sort of evolution. Every time we said, “This sounds like something from A Cautionary Tale,” we’d follow that up with, “How do we give it a little more growth and dimension?” I definitely feel that we succeeded in that approach. Everything that rocked on the first album feels that much more rocking, and everything pretty and slow feels like it has that much more depth to it. A lot of the bands we’ve been able to magically align ourselves with and perform with—J. Robbins, Weezer, The Zombies, Jonah Matranga from Far—have inspired me.
Your current tour has you opening for and backing up Jonah as he celebrates the 20th anniversary of Far’s post-hardcore classic Water & Solutions. How exciting is that?
Tierney Tough: We like to challenge ourselves. I think it helps me grow as a songwriter. That record is a personal favorite of ours, so it’s a big accomplishment to be asked to do something like that. I only wish I could be in the audience watching to see if people respond the way I probably would if I were at the show. That’s pretty fulfilling.
You write all The Pauses’ lyrics, Tierney. Tell us more about Unbuilding.
Tierney Tough: I had a similar idea to the one Jason mentioned: I was excited about being a little more focused and a little less abstract this time around. I felt a little more experienced and knew what I wanted to say. When you have an idea of the whole before you go into something, it’s easier to separate ideas and hone in on certain thoughts you have. “Digital Detox” is me throwing my hands up at the internet, asking, “Why do we have to do this? Why is this way of communication so ingrained?” It feels like an obligation in a way—should I just give up and put up with it, or should I try to fight it? That’s a huge point of contention for me every day: Why do I need this? Why can’t I just exist on a farm and be happy with a bunch of dogs and friends? The internet seems so unnecessary to everything.
Jason Kupfer: You can play Farmville on Facebook.
How important is The Pauses’ identity as a Florida band?
Tierney Tough: Jason and I were in a band previous to The Pauses, so our whole musical identity together is Florida-based. We cut our teeth here. There’s a huge list of Florida bands doing really cool things, and because I know that so well from promoting and booking shows, I know there’s a super-supportive scene on the business and talent side. There’s a need for more art here, and when people see that, they relish it and try to help. That’s always been one of the reasons why I’m still living here—to create that kind of community. Any time bands tour through here, I try to take them to these great hidden pockets of Orlando like Audubon Park, Winter Park or Mills 50. And they always say, “Wow! This isn’t what I thought Florida was like.” That’s a great feeling.
Jonah Matranga, The Pauses and Deadkaren, 7 p.m., Aug. 15, Jack Rabbits, San Marco, jaxlive.com, $16.33