Austin, Texas indie pop band Summer Salt’s new EP, Avenue G, is a characteristically breezy homage to vocalist / guitarist Matthew Terry and drummer Eugene Chung’s old digs on a street of the same name.
“Eugene and I moved in together about seven years ago to our first house in Austin,” Terry tells American Songwriter in an interview featured below. “It was our first fledge from home so it was very exciting for the two of us to find our way in a new city, especially with playing music and discovering how that would fit into our new life here.”
Avenue G—which comes after 2019’s Favorite Holiday, Vol. 1 and 2018’s Happy Camper—bristles with the feeling of being young and starry-eyed in a new place. “We’ll have a dog with one eye / A cat that climbs / Across our chipped fence a palm outside / You’ll smoke on your pipe / While I sip on my beer / We’ll pack our worries up away for the year,” Terry sings in “Palm Tree on Avenue G,” a song whose title refers to a “beautifully old and wise” palm tree on their former property.
Summer Salt’s music has always sounded like it was inspired by a palm tree, so it only makes sense that at least some of it was, in fact, inspired by a palm tree. Even the EP’s sole instrumental track, “Morning Tea,” has a hazy, swaying quality to it: “If anything I think of an urban soundscape [during a] misty dusk or dawn intertwined with nature,” says Terry of the song.
We recently caught up with Terry over email about Summer Salt’s new EP, their old house on Avenue G, and their plans to record another full-length album next month. Check out the interview and listen to Avenue G below.
American Songwriter: When did you first write and record the songs on your new EP? How have they evolved since then?
Matthew Terry: The first two songs [“Get on Back to You” and “Little Legs”] were written about 10 years ago when we first started playing music together, and “Palm Tree on Avenue G” was written during the year that we were recording [our 2014 debut EP] Driving to Hawaii. We recorded the EP when we returned from our Asia tour last November here at home. We have changed a lot in our sound since first writing these songs, from being upfront energetic pop, to trying to simplify and slow things down, not to get rid of the pop element but more so to create more space for decoration, melodies and harmonies to be added to the songs.
You said in a press statement that “Avenue G is now a landmark for us, the heart of Austin, TX, where we started.” Can you tell us a little bit about the place and time period that inspired these songs?
Eugene and I moved in together about seven years ago to our first house in Austin. It was our first fledge from home so it was very exciting for the two of us to find our way in a new city, especially with playing music and discovering how that would fit into our new life here. Austin is a beautiful place, kind of an oasis in the middle of Texas. The hill country has lots of beautiful nature and I feel the best way to describe it is a lush succulent garden. In the front of our house was this tall palm tree, and it was beautifully old and wise and something very special about it that attracted us to the house. “Palm Tree on Ave G” is the song most inspired from this time with the two of us as young adults getting by.
What’s the story behind the instrumental track “Morning Tea”? Was there a certain vibe or mood or texture you wanted to achieve? And why is it called “Morning Tea”?
It’s called “Morning Tea” because when Eugene was working on the tracks at his house he would always work early hours in the morning drinking tea. When we were trying to figure out a name for the song he was saying the song reminded him of those times the most. We love the moody instrumentals and Eugene writes them all the time and has expressed wanting to record and release more in upcoming future releases!
I don’t think there is a certain mood or vibe that we were trying to come up with—I think it kind of just came about and felt right. If anything I think of an urban soundscape [during a] misty dusk or dawn intertwined with nature. That song always feels right after a nice rain.
Does the cover art nod to a real place, a fantasy place, or something in between?
Something in between! We put clues on the album of the real place, our old home on Ave G. Like I said earlier with the lush succulent garden we wanted to draw something that depicted the lushness in a fantasy mystical kinda way but also include things that were true to the actual place. We made it after we returned from our winter tour, making it almost like something out of a pop-up book.
What’s it feel like to release an EP during this strange time? What’s next for Summer Salt?
It’s always nice to release new music but it does feel like there are lots of important things in the world right now that need care, love, and tending to that are beyond this. We would love to be touring and it feels like after a release, touring really makes the new songs feel new again if that makes sense. Seeing the fans sing new songs and enjoy them with you is special, so it’s sad to not be able to share that with them but its still definitely a special time to just have them out in the world. Other cool good news is we just finished demoing a new full-length album and will be recording the real thing all of October. Hopefully mid next year that will be out!
Avenue G is out now.