Baltimore duo Wye Oak make quite a racket. Their brand of blistering indie steers between dissonant rock-outs and affecting slow jams with a thrilling intensity, as their latest album ‘Civilian’ neatly demonstrates. Singer and guitarist Jenn was kind enough to answer a few questions on their new record, their native Baltimore and life on the road. For the uninitiated – who are you and how did the band come together? We're a band called Wye Oak. My name is Jenn and I play guitars and other things and sing, and my bandmate Andy plays drums and keyboards and other things. He and I met in high school, when I joined his existing band, and when that went away, we stayed on together. So we've known each other and have been playing music together for almost a decade now. The new record ‘Civilian’ hints at a more assured, braver Wye Oak at work than on previous albums. The songs seem to flow into one another as part of a whole. Was this a conscious decision? Was there a departure in the way you pieced the album together or was it a natural progression? I think the record reflects everything we've learned in the past five-or-so years playing together as a band. We started making music together when we were incredibly young and inexperienced, and everything we've done together since has been like practice--hopefully we're better performers, better musicians, better songwriters…and hopefully it shows. You enlisted the production talents of John Congleton for ‘Civilian’. What kind of impact do you think he had on the album? John's fingerprints are all over this album, I'm grateful to say. It was such a pleasure and a relief working with him--obviously he's such a skilled engineer and has such a natural ear, but he's also open minded and listens to the artists he works with. He'll always voice an opinion, but he respects alternatives, as well. Mixing our first two records was an agonizing process--we knew how we wanted the records to sound, but we didn't always know exactly how to realize our ideas. With John, that problem was solved-- we'd ask to hear something, and it'd be instantaneous. The band are also consistently releasing records - since the reissue of your first album in 2008 there has been a new Wye Oak record each year if you include last year’s EP. Is it tiring being so prolific or is this just how hard a band needs to work to survive in today’s music industry? We haven't really given ourselves a break, I think, because we've felt that we've been playing catchup since we started. When we made our first record we were very young, and it took us a year to make it, and then it was self-released, and then a year after that it was re-released on Merge Records in the states, and six months after that it came out in EU/UK… See what I mean? We've been playing songs at a bit of a delay for a while now, and we really crave new things. So it's taken us a serious of quick releases to really feel that we're living and working in "real time" as a band. There’s just the two of you in the band. Was there ever a point where you considered bringing in other musicians to the fold or is writing as a two piece just simpler, more direct? When we started playing music together as a duo, it was meant to be a temporary solution until we found other band members. But it eventually became such an integral part of the way we perform, record, arrange, and write songs that it seems essential now. To add other members would most certainly turn this into a very different band. Fortunately, we're at a point now where we feel very complete as a two piece, as as long as that's the case, we're happy with it. You’re often compared to Beach House, another Baltimore band. Does that frustrate you? Sure, you’re a female fronted duo from the same area, but there are notable differences to your sound. I've never really understood the comparison, really--I think it's just geographical and visual. We also constantly get compared to bands like the White Stripes and Matt and Kim, both male/female duos with whom we share few sonic similarities. Most likely these comparisons wouldn't happen if people heard our music without that context. Wye Oak and Beach House aside, what is the music scene in Baltimore like? Exciting, inspiring, supportive, adventurous, genuine. An embarrassment of riches. Your lyrics on the new record seem to show signs of yearning for something more stable and normal – even in the album title alone. Does life on the road, touring consistently, wear you out at times? Everyone has to choose the path their life is going to take, and I'm very happy with mine at the moment. Of course, there are times when you miss the people and places and things you have to sacrifice in order to live in such a way. The grass is always greener, though--that's just the way people are. Overall, I feel very fortunate to live the way I do. How was the tour with Cold War Kids? Good fun. The arrangements on record are quite expansive. How do you go about turning the songs into something playable to a between the two of you? Lots of work and practice, and a lot of time considering how to pare down a song to its most essential components. What is on the stereo in the van as you tour? Any music recommendations for 405 readers? Usually our friends from Baltimore. Lately we've been listening to lots of Radio Lab podcasts (a really excellent US public radio program). What’s next for the band? When are you next touring the UK? We're on tour right now in the states, playing a few festivals this summer, and we're already exploring options for our next UK/EU return. Hopefully very soon!