In the year that they’ve been together, Austin, TX four-piece Alex Napping have established themselves as a powerful new force in indie pop with their live performances. Now they have a debut record on its way that promises just as much zeal. The six-track album, This Is Not A Bedroom, features gorgeous clean, sharp instrumentation alongside singer Alex Cohen’s lyrics—at times wry, at times verging on heartbreaking.
In the video for “Catcalls”, we get acquainted with the band through a peek into their bedroom, breakfast, and rehearsal. They take us on a bumpy ride to a talent show where they meet a crew of wacky performers, including a cat whose talent spells out their demise. Cohen’s voice, sweet and clear, passes over clean guitar riffs, occasionally rubbing up against them for some jazz-tinged friction. The song gains momentum as it progresses, and the floating harmonies that emerge around the time Blanche the Cat starts licking the mic are totally infectious.
This is Not a Bedroom is out tomorrow, September 23, on Punctum Records. Scroll down to read what Alex Cohen has to say about the band, her lyrics, and intimate spaces.
How did you all meet?
We all met playing music in various bands across the Austin music scene. In summer of 2013, I asked Andrew to play drums on some recordings of solo stuff I had been working on, but we just sort of naturally expanded and evolved the project from there, inviting Adrian and Tomas to come write songs and play with us the following September.
Aside from a very talented feline, what is “Catcalls” all about?
Haha—the music video or the song? The song itself is thematically about knowing you’re romantically interested in someone, and knowing they are also romantically interested in you, but for various reasons not acting on it. Regardless, both parties still do things to go out of their way to spend a lot of alone time together. You know, like staying up til 6 AM “talking” on your front porch even though you both know the inevitable ending up alone in bed is coming. (Don’t worry, we’re together now! Happy ending!)
The music video is about losing to a cat at a talent show. Because everyone loves cats more than they love bands, especially on the Internet.
The lyrics on This Is Not A Bedroom are honest and evocative. Where do lyrics come into play in your songwriting process?
Usually lyrics are written after I’ve completed a section of a song instrumentally. For instance, if I write the guitar part for a verse that I’m into, I’ll then spend time figuring out the vocal melody and lyrics for that part usually before I move onto to writing another section. It’s typically then that I’ll more concretely establish what exactly the song is about (even if I have a rough idea beforehand). From there I’ll tackle the other sections of the song instrumentally, and then tackle lyrics that continue to fit within the established song meaning. So yeah, most of my songs begin with a single guitar part that I like for a section and then I’ll write lyrics for that section to firm up what the song will end up being about. I can’t really sit down with a set of lyrics and then write the music for it—I find it really limiting because I usually get a set rhythm and melody in my head that’s hard to get rid of. It’s much harder for me to write a guitar part that fits lyrics and a melody than vice versa.
What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been listening to all of Land of Talk’s discography non-stop since January (I’m horribly obsessed with Elizabeth Powell). I’m also really enjoying a band called Hollerado and the album Memory Map put out this past June. Oh, and the song “Every Breath You Take” by The Police.
Why isn’t this a bedroom?
“This Is Not A Bedroom” stems from the idea that when you’re young, a bedroom is supposed to be this really safe and comfortable space that is totally yours. But as we form relationships with people, bedrooms can become a shared space of intimacy, and a lot of the times those memories and moments can really shape the definition of a space. It’s a strange feeling when you’ve spent a lot of time with someone in your bedroom, perhaps even a majority of the time you’ve been in that space (maybe that’s where you first kissed or spent the night together or said “I love you”), and then for whatever reason that person exits your life and the space feels foreign and has this necessity to be redefined. The album was full of themes like growing pains, loss, and traveling (and thus, actually sleeping in places that really weren’t a bedroom) and I felt like “This Is Not A Bedroom” really encompassed the idea that your perceptions of and meaning for spaces are constantly shifting as you grow, change, and have people come in and out of your world.
Adrian really liked the title because it reminded him of this scene in the movie “Blue Is The Warmest Color” when the two main characters hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years and have this really intimate and sexually/emotionally charged experience in a really public space. This is a restaurant… this is not a bedroom. You should watch that movie if you haven’t—it’s so good!