You might not expect My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses and the crowd at The Bog in Scranton to have much in common. But the three groups have at least one shared trait: when Floating Action plays, they like what they hear.
Touring in support of its recently released sixth album “Fake Blood,” the Seth Kauffman-led North Carolina band played a well-received set at The Bog last Saturday, drawing from standout new tunes like “Not What I Came For” and “No Waves” as well as material from further back in the Floating Action catalog, traversing the rivers and trails between indie rock, classic soul and dreamy, sundrenched California harmonies.
Like the previous Floating Action albums, Kauffman handled all of the instruments and vocals on “Fake Blood.” Unlike the previous albums, this one was co-released by Removador, the record label run by My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James. James is all-in when it comes to Floating Action, releasing his own remixes of FA music and inviting Kauffman to sit in with My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses for a rendition of George Harrison’s “Isn’t A Pity” at a recent show. A few Band of Horses members passed through Floating Action’s lineup at one point, as well, and BoH bassist Bill Reynolds produced Floating Action’s 2011 record “Desert Etiquette.” In October, Floating Action will open a string of dates for Band of Horses.
Before he took the stage in Scranton with the touring lineup of Floating Action, which in addition to Kauffman on guitar and vocals features Brian Landrum (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Mark Capon (bass), Josh Carpenter (drums, vocals) and Evan Martin (drums, vocals), Seth chatted with us about his unique recording process, his friendship with bands like My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses and some of his favorite musical moments (spoiler alert: one of them has a Scranton connection).
H81R: Tell us a little bit about the process of making your new album “Fake Blood?”
SK: I pretty much prefer to record at home. I play all the instruments on the albums. It’s kind of all about harnessing the moment from when you receive it. I kind of like to live on the edge a little bit in that way and take some risks. I’ve also recorded with a lot of people in different studios, which is a different thing when you’re working with more people. You tend to talk ideas out, and it gets refined, which can sometimes be fine. But I guess what Floating Action is is me doing it spontaneously.
H81R: So what you have in your head is pretty much what ends up getting recorded?
SK: Yeah. And if you have some crazy (idea), like, “I don’t think this is going to work, but I’m going to try it,” if you were with a lot of people, they’d probably be like, “That’s never gonna work, let’s try something else.”
H81R: How did your relationship with Jim James start?
SK: I’ve always been a fan of (My Morning Jacket). The guys in Dr. Dog, I’m friends with them, and they knew I was looking for a label. They said they he had this label and it might be perfect. So I sent the album and didn’t hear back from him for about a year. I kind of forgot about it. And then all of a sudden he started emailing me, gushing, like, “This is the most genius stuff I’ve ever heard, we have to get this out!”
H81R: What have you learned from being around Jim and My Morning Jacket?
SK: He really listens to his management. He has tons of teams of management people, and he totally trusts him. Also My Morning Jacket played in North Carolina a few weeks ago, and he was like, “Man, you should come play with us.” They were going to do a George Harrison song, “Isn’t A Pity.”
I always grapple with the fact that there’s a lot of musicians who want to be musicians full time but that don’t take it seriously. That’s kind of a common theme, and the whole shoot-yourself-in-the-foot thing creeps in with everyone to varying degrees. But I noticed with him, he takes it so seriously. I always thought I took it way more seriously than anyone else. But he does it in a great way. It’s not businesslike really, but it’s so passionate and serious about music.
H81R: Are there any points in Floating Action’s existence so far that you consider high points or landmarks?
SK: Every show, really. I think we blow it up, in my mind, like a great rock show that I would like to see. That’s what we go for. As for landmarks, I’m probably overly humble maybe, having to talk about it, but I guess having bands like (My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses) — we haven’t made a lot of money touring and it can get discouraging — but the accolades of guys like Jim James, it makes you feel like, I guess I’m doing something, ya know?
H81R: What are your plans for the rest of the year?
SK: I think we might do a couple dates with My Morning Jacket around Christmas. After this tour, I think I’m going to dive into a new album. I’m going to record it at home and then go out to Bill Reynolds’ studio in California and spend a lot of time mixing it.
H81R: How would you describe the Asheville scene? (Kauffman lives in Black Mountain, N.C., 25 miles outside of Asheville)
SK: It’s tough. It’s basically just bluegrass. Every time we play a show there, it’s always great, we can get people to come out, but we’re definitely not Asheville’s darling band or anything. Nobody really gets it there. And I don’t feel like there are that many bands that are really similar to us there. We’re kind of displaced.
H81R: You’ve gotten to work with some pretty cool musicians. Who else would you like to work with?
SK: Like a dream list? Bob Dylan, David Longstreth of The Dirty Projectors, Keith Richards, Jeff Lynne.
H81R: What was your first concert?
SK: It could’ve been Bob Dylan in like ’97.
H81R: What was the best concert you’ve seen?
SK: Mike Quinn at the Grey Eagle in Asheville. That’s what comes to mind first.
H81R: Did being in Scranton make you think of that? (Quinn, now in Los Angeles, is from Scranton)
SK: No, no. For real. Seriously, though, it was so good.
H81R: What’s your favorite song?
SK: Probably “Not Dark Yet” by Dylan.
H81R: And your favorite album?
SK: “Their Satanic Majesties Request,” Rolling Stones