The bookend of Air for Ants’ Once Again With Feeling “CLG” – the title is taken from someone’s initials – was born when frontman Dominic Sahagun hit some piano keys after stumbling and nearly falling down in his studio. An A, D and an additional A were the notes that sounded from the happy accident, which became the beginning of “CLG,” which employs a buildup reminiscent of Harry Nilsson-esque 1970s pop.
“I heard you calling me by name/ Your face had changed but you were still the same,” Sahagun croons.
“CLG” and 2018’s Once Again With Feeling in its entirety mark an evolution since the outfit’s last record, We Think It Was Raised By Wolves, released a few years back, and which was heavily inspired by Radiohead.
“Once Again With Feeling has gone more in the direction of pop,” Sahagun says from Las Vegas. “The songs have become simpler.”
Like the music, the songwriting process can also be simple, some of the time. Sahagun wrote “Like a Lion or a Tiger or a Bear” in about 20 minutes while he was living in Brooklyn.
“I was playing guitar and it just came to me, the whole thing all at once – all the different parts,” he says. “It is rare, but it does happen.”
The song is a minimalist three-part suite about being a kid. Experimental elements include a toy piano, loops playing vocals backwards and ambient outdoor sounds of birds chirping.
“I remember when we were young, holding hands in the space station/ As I let my hands turn red, don’t you worry they can’t split us apart again,” sings Sahagun. Just like his past songs, the new tunes are about specific people.
Sahagun says he experimented with moving the vocals around a lot on the album – he mixed the entire record himself with the exception of some outside help to assist in the completion of the LP.
Meanwhile, Sahagun estimates he has about 50 songs written that he’s yet to record. And that’s all while also working as an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music. Responsibilities aside, Sahagun says he expects AFA’s sound will continue to evolve.
“With touring, the fall semester coming up and just life in New York, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to record new tracks and then mix it,” Sahagun says.
In addition to Sahagun (guitar and vocals), Air for Ants features Mike Higgins (drums), Tyler Luppi (bass), Drew Cooper (guitar), Amanda Gurung (guitar) and Sean Bart (keys).
AIR FOR ANTS 3pm Thursday, Aug. 8. East Village Coffee Lounge, 498 Washington St., Monterey. No cover. 373-5601.