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The Morning Benders: Live at Rolling Stone

Watch the dream-pop band play a trio of new tracks from 'Big Echo'

June 25, 2010 3:08 PM ET

Bay Area dream-pop band the Morning Benders used some unconventional spaces like hangars and churches while recording their latest album, Big Echo, but frontman Chris Chu is actually a bit of a studio freak. "There has been a trend in modern recording to try to erase the sound of the studio," he says, "which to me sounds kind of sterile." Though the band's Sixties-obsessed sound reveals their admiration of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, Chu reports they were listening to My Bloody Valentine while making the record, too. (Check out the band's live performance of three new tracks — "All Day Day Light," "Cold War" and "Promises" — in the RS studio above.)

Chu also lists Blur's Think Tank and Kate Bush's Hounds of Love as inspirations, and isn't shy about his affinity for R&B. "R. Kelly's raw talent is so obvious to me," he says. "What he does with the melody is something that not many people can do and keep interesting. And that's just something that I relate to and think is really inspiring as a singer and songwriter."

The Morning Benders recently wrapped a tour supporting Broken Bells, which they're following up with European dates and a two-night stand with the Black Keys in Central Park. And when they head back into the studio next, Chu says he'll be starting with a blank slate. "With every song I write I want to try to do something I haven't done," he says. "I don't really want to settle on a sound, you know? I think some bands are good at that, but it's not for us, we want to keep changing."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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