Phil Dickey, the lead singer, guitarist and occasional drummer of the band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, has always tried to “keep things simplified.”
A few years back, Dickey was holding songwriting jams for little kids, where the goal was for them to write a song a day. Coincidentally, these jams happened right around the time he was having writer’s block.
“Seeing how easy it was for them to just come up with a melody and start singing,” said Dickey. “It was kind of genius.”
That approach to songwriting — the back-to-basics ethos — has helped define the style of Dickey’s band, which is on tour supporting the release of their fourth album, Fly by Wire. SSLYBY will be performing in the William Pitt Union on Friday, Oct. 25. The show is sponsored by WPTS-FM, Pitt’s student-run radio station.
Fly by Wire consists of 10 concise, pop-driven tracks that all rely on solid hooks and catchy melodies. This time around, the band incorporated far more keyboard sounds and effects-laden vocals than it had previously, making the record arguably the band’s most polished work to date.
But Dickey said that was not the goal.
“We’ve never really been good at planning things out, especially when it comes to direction,” he said.
Dickey admits that the biggest concern when putting together the album was making something that didn’t “totally suck.” And as far as the band’s members are concerned, they were incredibly proud of the finished product. “There was really no doubt in my mind that it was a winner,” Dickey said.
Dickey is personable, humorous and above all, humble. In his eyes, the acts of touring and making records are both self-rewarding ventures. Moreover, he feels that reviews — either good or bad — can be inherently positive. “To have anyone even know that you made a record,” he said, “that’s pretty fortunate.”
With the release of the band’s fourth album, Dickey continues to relish that he is able to make music for a living. Dickey said the band members would have been skeptical if someone told them they’d still be together after 13 years when they first began. It would have sounded “too good to be true,” he said.
“This has really always been our dream from when we were little kids,” he added.
Fly by Wire has plenty of moments that harken back to the band’s previous albums. The beginning of “Cover All Sides” and the song “Ms. Dot” will have fans remembering the acoustic-guitar- and piano-driven songs from their first album, Broom, and the simple, yet fun, song “Loretta” could easily fit on the band’s third album, Let it Sway.
Those who attend their show at Pitt can expect, in the words of Dickey, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” With a growing discography, Dickey tries to approach set lists as if he was a fan, not overloading shows with new material that has just been released.
For the little underdog band from Springfield, Mo., a fourth album is a testament to the members’ dedication to their craft. “You have to be competitive [when you’re from a small town],” said Dickey. “[You] almost try harder and do better to get recognized.”