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‘Lush, acoustic sound’: Indie rock band San Fermin focuses on new album on current tour

It’s a beautiful day in Milwaukee.

Ellis Ludwig-Leone is the mastermind behind the indie rock collective San Fermin. (Courtesy of Denny Renshaw)

Ellis Ludwig-Leone is making the most of his downtime and recharging himself before a show.

Ludwig-Leone is the mastermind behind the indie rock collective San Fermin. The band is touring in support of its latest album, “The Cormorant I,” and will perform on Sunday, Nov. 10, at Meow Wolf.

“This is the first time we’ve played New Mexico,” he says. “We’re crossing off state No. 45 with this show. Only five more to go. We’re getting there.”

San Fermin formed in 2013.

Shortly after Ludwig-Leone completed a job assisting composer Nico Muhly, San Fermin made its debut with a self-titled record.

“The Cormorant I” was released on Oct. 4.

Ludwig-Leone wrote the album about two years ago.

“I really wanted to sort of imagine a sort of lush, acoustic sound,” he says. “I stayed in my friend’s house in Iceland. I had no one to bother me or talk to. It was cool. I wrote almost all of it.”

Ludwig-Leone envisioned the album as an eight-track collection and the first of two eventual full-length releases.

” ‘The Cormorant I’ starts with a visit from a strange bird, a death augur, which haunts two characters throughout their lives,” Ludwig-Leone says of the album’s namesake. “The track listing is chronological: the first few songs are about childhood, while the later tracks follow the characters into their more complicated adult lives. Finally, the last song imagines the return of the bird and their eventual deaths.”

Ludwig-Leone imagined the album as a stand-alone narrative in itself, but also as the first piece of a larger, two-part story.

“The second part is like the fever dream, upside-down response to ‘Part 1.’ The jumps between the past and present are more jagged, and memories are subjected to a more critical eye,” he says. “As I was writing, I was thinking a lot about how memories change over time – the stories you tell yourself and the actual events aren’t always in sync.”

San Fermin will play all of the eight tracks during its tour, as Ludwig-Leone wants to focus on the new material.

“It’s difficult to put together a set,” he says. “We want the fans to come, and they want to hear stuff from our first record. On the same token, we’ve played them 1,000 times, literally. I’m pretty happy with our set list of new and old. You get the sense of the new shape of the album.”

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