A Conversation With Maps & Atlases’ Dave Davison


It’s been a good few years for Maps & Atlases. The Chicago-based math rock quartet’s acclaimed 2010 debut full-length, Perch Patchwork, gave it the push it needed to become a heavy hitter in the indie scene, and its sophomore effort, Beware and Be Grateful has allowed the band to regain momentum. The four-piece is currently on an extensive tour in support of the new album. The experimental indie rockers have been on the road since March and won’t be home until the end of July. Amidst the chaos of touring, Maps & Atlases’ vocalist/guitarist Dave Davison was nice enough to chat with me about the new album, life on the road, and his dream tour companion.


Katrina Nattress: You’re currently on tour in support of your new album, Beware and Be Grateful. How do the new songs sound live?
Dave Davison: Part of the fun of playing new songs on tour is allowing them the space to take on a new life in the live setting. It’s been fun to watch these songs take on shape in new and unexpected ways.


KN: Beware and Be Grateful feels a little darker and more experimental than Perch Patchwork. How was the writing and recording process different between the two albums?
DD: One conscious difference in the recording process was that we hoped to create an environment in which some improvisation and spontaneous energy could be added to each track. A lot of the albums that we love have a live feel and we wanted to capture some of the spontaneity that has become a part of our live show.


KN: Your sound seems to grab from a variety of genres and influences. What would you say are your biggest influences?
DD: We draw from influences that are kind of all over the place, but I think that a couple of consistent musical role models for us are the Talking Heads and David Bowie. Not only do we love their music on a basic level, but we are inspired by the way both artists continued to change and grow creatively throughout their careers as well.


KN: How do you feel that living in Chicago has affected your sound?
DD: Chicago is a city that seems to really encourage creativity and musical experimentation and is home to a community of supportive friends and musicians, creating an environment that was great for our development as a band.


KN: You’ve been on tour since March and it’s almost over! Are you excited to go home?
DD: We are having a great time and I simultaneously look forward to going home and feel that I could just keep going.


KN: How do you like life on the road?
DD: It’s really exciting to explore cities and find good places to eat, try new types of coffee and explore parks and other natural spaces.


KN: What do you miss most about home when you’re touring?
DD: As much fun as it is to try new restaurants, I love being able to cook for myself. I also like to have days that are completely free of any structure or schedule.


KN: What’s been your favorite stop on the tour so far?
DD: We have played a lot of our favorite cities during this tour so it’s tough to narrow down. We got to spend a good amount of time in Austin this time, which was fantastic.


KN: If you could tour with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
DD: That’s so tough! I think I would especially love to tour with George Harrison.