It's sunny in Washington Beach again, which lends timeliness to the opening lyrics from Times New Viking's fifth album, "Dancer Equired." In their usual slapdash singsong, Adam Elliott and Beth Murphy unfurl one of their stickiest melodies: "We made it through the winter!"
The seasonal affection seems all the more fitting once Murphy explains that the song in question, "It's a Culture," is "about Washington Beach" - Washington Beach being creative class slang for the North Campus neighborhood TNV has inhabited from the beginning.
We're there now, perched around the kitchen counter in guitarist Jared Phillips' apartment. Photocopied show flyers paper the walls. Musical equipment is everywhere. Each of the three band members is a chimney.
Phillips' place is a somewhat legendary Columbus rock hideout, the alleged site of recordings by Sword Heaven, Them Wranch and Hairy Patt Band in decades past. TNV added to the lore: The trio strolled from the apartment's front door to Cafe Bourbon Street in the "No Room To Live" video. They recorded previous album "Born Again Revisited" there, too.
"It wasn't in a basement," drummer Elliott says, almost grinning. "It was actually upstairs."
"Dancer Equired," however, was laid to tape at famed North Linden studio Musicol. Due out April 26, the album marks several shifts for Times New Viking but still finds them true to their roots.
For one thing, they jumped from Matador Records - home of TNV heroes Guided by Voices, Pavement and Yo La Tengo - to another indie titan, Merge.
"Merge feels way more like a proper indie record label," keyboardist/guitarist Murphy says. "The people that run it are actually in bands. That makes a big difference."
Then there's the recording setup. Much has been made of TNV's grainy, homemade aesthetic, and "Dancer Equired" is indeed brighter and cleaner. They even made demos before the official recordings, a quantum leap considering 2005 debut "Dig Yourself" was basically a collection of practice tapes.
Yet they kept it in the family, working with touring engineer Dustin White and Columbus Discount Records' Adam Smith, who recorded their first 7-inch. And they maintained much of their trademark immediacy, bashing each song out in two or three takes.
"We still have a short attention span when it comes to that sort of thing," Murphy says.
Yep, "Dancer Equired" presents the same Times New Viking, refined and matured but still married to their ideals and fiercely loyal to their turf. World tours like the one launching this week don't seem so glamorous when they end up drinking at identical overpriced hipster bars in every city.
"It's amazing once you meet all those people around the world how down to earth people in Columbus are," Murphy says. "Those are really our people."