Cacie Dalager and Brad Hale are bright-eyed and affable (as those in their early 20s are wont to be), but the music they makes as Now, Now Every Children tends toward the dark and brooding. The band's show at Emo's Jr. tomorrow night will be fleshed out with bass and keyboards, but its full-length debut, Cars, features Dalager and Hale alone, banging out a series of Yeah Yeah Yeahs-esque, slow-burning songs. it's a series of long fuses leading to inevitable explosions; The gorgeous “Not One, But Two,” starts with Hale’s crackling drums and Dalager’s chugging electric guitar, and eventually blows up amid her understated vocals. Before taking heading out on their current tour, Dalager and Hale spoke with Decider about their band geek roots, expectations vs. results, and having you manager/best friend/label rep produce your record.
Decider: You met in high-school marching band. Does that still influence what you’re doing now?
Brad Hale: I think it influences the way I think about drumming, and how I don’t want everything to be so strictly rock beats. It makes me think outside of that, and subconsciously the musical memories I have from it, you could say, creep into it somehow, the syncopation.
D: Do you hear that percussive quality when you’re initially writing these songs?
Cacie Dalager: There are certain things I don’t want, or certain things we try to avoid every time, like the 4/4 steady rock beat. There are parts where I’ll hear a certain little thing of a drum part, or kind of an idea, but Brad usually is the master behind figuring out how to take my brain and make it into something that actually exists and sounds better than what I would think of.
D: How do the songs tend to sound to you in the end, compared to how you envisioned them?
CD: It depends on the song, but with Brad’s contribution, it usually ends up better than what I would have in my head originally. When we first started the song “Cars,” it started out on guitar and more upbeat, and happier-sounding. Now it’s more laid-back, and there isn’t even a guitar in it.
D: Why did that decision happen?
BH: We were getting pissed off at trying to figure out something, and Cacie just decided to start playing keyboard. I think I was having a really hard time with the drum part, and I heard this thing in my head, and I thought, “Okay, this is the direction we need to go.”
CD: How that usually happens is, we’ll be working on something all day, or a number of weeks, and we’ll get to the point where it’s like, “Screw it, I hate this song, we can’t do this anymore with this song!” Then one of us will be messing around on a different instrument, and we’ll end up playing that song, but a different version somehow.
D: Did joining a label with so much visibility change how you write, record and arrange?
CD: There’s more pressure to not suck, I guess. [Laughs.] For us, Ian has been a really important tool for what we have going now. And we don’t want to let anyone down. So there’s a little bit more pressure to make sure you’re proud of what you’re doing.
D: What was it like having your mangager, Ian Anderson, produce Cars?
BH: He’s kind of everything to us: best friend, producer, label person, manager-slash-magical wizard. We’re so close to him, we can trust anything with him—business-wise, creative process-wise, and friend-wise. He’s just never let us down.
D: What kind of producing influence do you think he had as a musician?
CD: It’s interesting, because I totally adore his band [One For The Team], and his musical instinct. [But] what he adds with us is different from what his band is. I’m not really sure how he does that. You would think when you’re working with someone who has their own style, they would add their style to your music, but he really works with what we’re already doing. He’s not trying to make something else out of it. It’s really nice to have that.
D: You opened for fellow sometime-duo, sometime-full-band Mates Of State not long ago—what was that like?
CD: Ridiculous, in the best way possible. That was easily my favorite show we have ever played. In my mind, that was the perfect show, it couldn’t have gone any better. I almost fear that it’s not even possible being that good again. [Laughs.]… And obviously the fact that it was Mates Of State made us want to play really well, and not suck in front of them.
D: Did you learn anything from watching them?
CD: I guess it’s just nice to see that happening. A lot of bands are a full-on band, and it’s nice to know that two people can do that, and be really successful at what they’re doing.