Photo Ops is the folk rock project of talented multi-instrumentalist Terry Price. Mere months after completing his underrated 2016 album “Vacation,” Price and his wife made a 2,000 mile move from Nashville to Los Angeles. With Price preoccupied with that significant life change, the album didn’t quite get the proper attention it deserved. The move did, however, inspire a whole new set of songs that the songwriter is hoping to put out as the band’s third full-length album later this year. As a lead up to that forthcoming release, Photo Ops is releasing a series of singles (the most recent is “Palm Trees”).
opbmusic DJ Matthew Casebeer recently caught up with Price via phone, and they talked about the move to Los Angeles, his new music and how the 2016 election changed his songwriting. Excerpts from that conversation are below.
Photo Ops plays The Fixin’ To in Portland, OR on Thurs., April 25.
On the move to L.A.:
“My wife got a job at UCLA. A job opportunity came up for her to work for a non-profit that’s on the campus. I love Nashville, I’ve been there a long time, but I was ready for something new and there’s plenty of commerce music-wise in LA. I was a solo project, so I could go anywhere.”
On new music and a potential new album:
“I’m going to try to put out four singles that aren’t on the album, and then hopefully the album will come out some point this year. Right now I’m working on getting some singles out — it’s been about three years since I’ve released anything. I’m just going to try to get the machine rolling again. I’m just happy to have new music out again.”
On releasing “Vacation” in 2016 and how his songwriting has evolved since then:
“When “Vacation” came out it was February of 2016, and that was right when we moved to L.A. I did a PR push, and it was on a small label out of D.C., but I didn’t really tour on that album. Since then I’ve been taking my time and trying to write more and figure out where I’m headed aesthetically, lyrically. Trump got elected, and my whole conception of the function of art kind of changed. It was like “Do I keep singing about my inner life?” Who gives a fuck, you know? I don’t really feel that way, but it feels kind of self-important or self-indulgent. I wanted to try to make something a little more functional for people. Something that can serve a purpose. One of the things I really learned was on the drive from Nashville to L.A. Seeing the geography change as we drove along was really inspiring to me, and being in L.A. is like being in a different universe. I wasn’t accustomed to different kinds of plant life and mountains and ocean, and it’s just a completely different thing. I try to look outward a little bit more on this new stuff. “Vacation” and the album before it were very dense, and I’ve been really interested in trying to do less and have more space in the recording and the arrangement. I’m trying to make things that I find beautiful. ‘Cause it’s a rough time right now in the world, and I want to provide proof that there is beauty in the world. I’m very interested in politics and I spend a lot of time thinking about it and reading and engaging with it, but as far as songwriting goes I’m not really that interested in political lyrics. Some people do it well, but it’s not really my thing. What I feel like I can do is still give people a place to go - politics isn’t everything.”
On the instrumentation of the albums:
“It’s mostly me and my producer Patrick. Patrick plays drums, and on the new stuff he plays bass. Last week he came out (from Nashville) and spent a couple weeks in my apartment and we recorded a whole new album.”
On the name Photo Ops:
“My dad passed away in 2011, and we had to go through all of his belongings. When he was a kid in the 1960s he went on a road trip with one of his friends and their family, and he took a Polaroid with him and took all these pictures of the country. They drove from Georgia all the way to San Francisco, and my dad took a bunch of polaroids and they were incredible. And it made me think of the idea of what a photo opportunity is. It’s hyper-real. There’s an occasion for a photograph. I was looking for a band name and I thought about Photo Opportunities, but one of my friends said “why don’t you call it Photo Ops?” I was like “that’s WAY better.” I was surprised it wasn’t taken already.”