It's been about a year since I first covered Minneapolis trio Saginaw's tangled brand of metalcore-tinged noise rock in a random roundup post, and it turns out that their latest endeavor, Fugue, is even more impressive. Rippingly pained screams tear across hectic spurts of angular surges and dissonant jabs, amidst slightly longer compositions where horizons have expanded to explore lush, subdued segues as well as some darker and more emotive guitar work. Thus far, each succinct release has been more interesting than the last, and one gets the impression that this outfit is still working toward their true zenith... so, expect future outings to unleash further devastation!
Stream both new tracks below, followed by a quick chat with the band for a bit of additional insight:
I'll open with a shitty, boring question just because I don't know much about the band. All I've really been able to glean is that Saginaw first appeared as a duo in early-2019, then became a trio prior to last year's split with Warp & Weft, and you had been playing shows before 2020 unfolded the way it did. What's some general history regarding the project?
The collection of riffs which turned into the first Saginaw release dates back to early-2018. We became a three-piece shortly after releasing The Hull, and started playing shows that spring while working on the material for the split. The pandemic situation put an end to shows, but we have still been busy writing and recording new songs, including what you hear on Fugue.
Thus far, Saginaw's pattern has been to release just two or three songs early in each year, so I'm curious what your writing and recording process looks like?
Our goal is to do smaller releases every three to six months, and to only release music after we have begun work on the next one. We started working on Fugue while we were mixing the split, and have already tracked drums for the upcoming three-song EP. The pandemic did throw a wrench in the gears, but it was also an opportunity to experiment with coordinating things remotely.
It would be inaccurate to refer to your debut, The Hull, as "straightforward," but the band's take on fusing mathy noise rock with caustic metalcore has certainly grown more distinct over time. The two new tracks from Fugue are slightly longer and your most diverse compositions to date, leaning toward darker and more complex techniques. How would you reflect on the material's development up to this point?
Meandering compositions really are at the core of what Saginaw songs are about. The challenge arises when trying to work that aesthetic into a song structure without it losing its impact. The first Saginaw tracks were essentially live recordings, but as we've become more comfortable in the studio, we have been able to explore different approaches. On this EP we had much more time to work on the production, and we think it paid off—especially in the vocals and overall mix.
The latter chunk of "Curse My Name" is much more sparse and experimental than anything Saginaw has put forth in the past, and definitely stands out as an unexpected twist. Is that at all an indication of how the sound might continue to expand moving forward?
Even though we are only putting out short collections of songs, we are conscious of the "whole record" experience. By having the tracks flow into each other and offering a shift in dynamics, we hope to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts. The repetition of that section also offers a welcome contrast to the disjointed elements of the songs. You can expect to hear more moments like this in future releases.
I haven't seen the lyrics for the new songs yet, but what I've enjoyed about your prior content is that there's a ton of room for listener interpretation, and I find there to be an almost poetic artistry to the lyrical approach. Without necessarily getting into specifics in terms of meaning, where would you say you're coming from with that aspect of the band as well?
We intentionally write impressionistic lyrics which lend themselves to interpretation. Listeners who take the time to sit with the lyrics will see some common themes emerge—like the supernatural as an allegory for psychosis, or discomfort with the role technology is playing in social relationships. That being said, we want the lyrics to be open-ended, not didactic. Listeners are welcome to read the songs as they like.
I find myself writing about a lot of artists like Saginaw: very good bands that seem to struggle to garner the deserved level of attention amidst a sea of less interesting yet more visible fare. Are there peers or bands you've discovered on your own from that category that you'd recommend listeners seek out?
There are a lot of groups local to us who I'd recommend checking out. Off the top of my head I can recommend Dana Sterling, Ashbringer, Citric Dummies, Grogus, Birth Order, Healthy Competition, Tvær, New Primals, and Wanderer.