How many digital 7-inches does it take before a band decides to settle down for their sophomore album? In the case of Illinois’s indie darlings Varsity, it turns out the magic number is three.
“It takes a long time from writing a song to finally releasing it on a record. We decided to just write and record pairs of songs and release them when they were finished,” vocalist Stef Smith and guitarist Pat Stanton tell in an email to Vanyaland. “We did three different versions of this calling it our ‘Digital 7-inches.’ It was a way for us to keep writing and recording and putting new music out there. After the third one we finally decided to hunker down and write a complete record.”
After some significant introspection — and shelling out their worth in singles in the meantime — Varsity have released their sophomore record, Parallel Person, via Babe City Records, the followup to their self-titled debut album from 2015. The tunes make their Allston debut this Wednesday (May 9) at Great Scott, appropriately paired with Boston’s Baby!.
Written from 2016 to 2017 and recorded at MINBAL Studios in Chicago, the record carries Varsity’s garage-pop flounce over the span on their ten new tracks. The title, the band says, comes from their album lyrics regarding the struggle to maintain onstage and offstage personalities.
“The title Parallel Person is ripped from our song ‘Watching You,’” Smith and Stanton note. “For me it encapsulates the double life you have to negotiate as a performer and as a regular person doing regular things. At the time I think I really was struggling with how to bring more of my genuine self to the stage and more of my confident performer self to my every day life. I still struggle with that, but I worry about it less now.”
But, much like their digital singles, the process of fleshing out Parallel Person was detail-oriented, consequentially packing in all the twee possible to their slam-dunk arrangements.
“I think we work better when we’re all focused on one or two songs at a time,” they say. “We tend to get pretty particular about arrangements and structures so some songs end up taking a lot longer than others. I think we’re much better at songwriting than we were in the past. We’re more confident and deliberate, and I think you’ll hear more intricate details in the arrangement and mixing on this album.”
Their last tip: Listen with headphones.
Our tip? Catch them tomorrow night, with enough time to see Baby!.
VARSITY + BABY! :: Wednesday, May 9 at Great Scott, 1222 Commonwealth Ave. in Allston, MA :: 8:30 p.m., 18-plus, $10 in advance, $12 day of show :: Advance tickets :: Bowery Boston event page :: Featured photo by Kristina Pedersen