The Low Anthem originally met and grew to its current lineup in a handful of ways: Miller (of Ossining, NY) and Prystowsky (of New Jersey) became fast friends sharing graveyard-shift duties as DJs at Brown University’s radio station. With a laughably small listenership, their playlists were primarily for one another. The band became serious for these two when, fresh out of school they teamed up with a gravel-voiced and blues-obsessed Virginian by the name Dan Lefkowitz. The three hatched the beginnings of the band’s sound over nine volatile months together in their Providence apartment, until tensions and divergent interests finally led to Dan’s departure. Bostonian and former NASA technician Jocie Adams soon stepped into the vacancy, after being asked to play clarinet on the final track for their first album, What the Crow Brings. Her fluency with classical composition and arrangement and her intuitive musicality would dramatically expand the band’s horizons. Miller and Prystowsky credit her for being largely responsible for new sense of harmony featured in Oh My God, Charlie Darwin.
The band first befriended Mat Davidson (of Roanoke, VA) in these early days gigging in Boston, and in October of 2009 asked him to come on board. Being a versatile multi-instrumentalist and a pure singer, he was a match for their frenetic instrument swapping and harmonic style. Smart Flesh is The Low Anthem’s first recording effort as a quartet.
Along the way, The Low Anthem have not only grown in numbers, they have also added new influences and instruments. After two years of scouring yard sales, attics and eBay while on tour, the band could easily open a second hand music shop, with sufficient peculiarities to be the envy of Brooklyn hipsters and historical preservation societies alike. Most notably they collect and repair antique pump organs, but have also gathered oversized drum kits, hammered dulcimers, autoharps, singing bowls, banjos, steel drums, crotales, horns of all shapes, and a 600 pound pipe organ—they are obsessive scavengers, reverent of oddity and fanatical in the search for sound. The eclectic array of instruments used on Smart Flesh includes jaw harp, musical saw, stylophone, antique organs, and an elaborate scheme to re-amp noise through various chambers of the factory.