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New Fumes: Yesterday's New Sounds For Tomorrow

10 April 2011

Daniel Huffman, the mastermind behind New Fumes, is a veteran of the North Texas psych-rock scene. His early band Comet was well-loved, and featured Josh Garza of Secret Machines fame. In addition, Huffman has worked with the touring side of The Flaming Lips and The Polyphonic Spree. With New Fumes, Huffman is headed into a direction not unlike The Flaming Lips. Cacophonous, frenzied, and full of beaming colors of psychedelic light, reminding of In A Priest Driven Ambulance and Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, Bump and Assassination has a sound quite familiar and warm.

The ramshackle nature of the music might make you think that this is the sound of a guy simply walking into the studio and making a quick pass. “Some things happen super spontaneously while recording,” says Huffman, “so there are some ‘one takes’ on certain tracks, but then there are some where I work a long time getting sounds. It’s a mix. Some of the best stuff are things that happened quickly and I didn’t tweak to death—or life. Many times I would work on something for a day, then put it away for a while—weeks or months sometimes—then come back to it and work for another day or two, or however long it took to make it closer to what I wanted to hear. There are times I will tweak and tweak and tweak, and yeah, I can be obsessive for sure, but if something is not working for me pretty quickly, I move on. Sometimes I build a mountain of sound, like 60- 100 tracks, then just start chipping away, sometimes tearing it all down and apart just to rebuild something entirely different.”

Another appealing element to Huffman’s art is the direct linkage to the visual arts. “I went to college for painting and drawing,” he says. I didn’t even think about taking a music class. Video is something I have always been fascinated by, but it is still a new art form for me, I am just getting started. After I made these songs, I could see what they looked like in my mind.. so yes, I think visual and aural art go hand in hand.”

“As far as Bump and Assassination goes,” he explains, “The music came first. I was trying to make a musical experience. The video stuff came later. I have written music to film and video though, and I love doing that.”

One noticeable aspect of Bump and Assassination is that it has a very continuous flow, feeling much like a symphonic composition, with the part being much less important than the whole. Huffman doesn’t necessarily agree, nor was that a factor in the production of the album. “I just recorded a ton of material, just exploring the music making process with a laptop computer. Songs started standing out here and there and I seemed to make them in clusters of 3 and 5. Originally, I wanted to release the “clusters “ of songs that seemed to fit together as a series of 7“s, but it morphed into an EP and then a full length. By then I didn’t want to split everything up because it all seemed to work together so well, and like you said, if I took one out, it didn’t seem to work as well any more.”

As for his immediate plans, Huffman beams pure optimism. “My immediate plans are to keep making music and videos and to play out as much as I can. The next step is to get out of town more and release the next batch of songs over the next year, probably as singles. I would very much like this album to reach around the globe, and I will do everything I can to make that happen.”