The members of Froth nearly released a blank record once, just because the idea sounded hilarious to them. This was before the band actually existed, but singer/guitarist Joo-Joo Ashworth and a group of guys he was hanging around with would go to shows and tell people that they were a band called Froth. None of them played instruments, though, so they thought a great practical joke would be to release an actual vinyl record with an album cover that said “Froth” in big, bold letters, but had no music on it.
“This guy at a record pressing plant said that he would do it for us for free because he had a blank mold,” Ashworth says. “He was dating my aunt, but then they broke up and it never happened.”
Froth did become a band later, mostly with other members. When Ashworth started to jam with this new group of guys, everyone was basically starting from scratch.
“It was definitely not serious at first,” Ashworth says. “Once the first record got put out, that clicked in—‘Oh, this is a band.’ But at the same time, every band is a real band, and every band isn’t a real band, you know what I mean?”
Now that Froth just released its fourth record Duress, they are more of a real band than a not-real band. The early records were psych-pop in the vein you’d expect from Burger Records, which released the group’s second album. For Duress, the band has evolved quite a bit and now incorporates a lot of shoegaze elements. It’s simultaneously more pop-oriented and more experimental in its layering of instrumentation and sonic nuancing.
Despite its beginnings, Froth has developed into a meticulous project where every sound is given a lot focus and care.
“Some of the songs we were working on for months and months,” Ashworth says. “We would throw it down and bring it back later. We took a bit of time dialing in the sounds. I like the process of knob twiddling.”
The latest record came after a quiet spell for the band. There was no official declaration of a hiatus, but the members were kind of off doing their own thing. Ashworth was working on a solo album, but eventually he started to wonder if the songs could work as a Froth record, despite going in a different direction.
“I think it turned out cool. I don’t think it was too far off from what we were doing before,” Ashworth says. “Maybe some of it is left field. One or two songs.”
Songs cover some oddball topics, too, like lead single “Laurel,” which explores the brief 2018 Laurel vs. Yanny craze, where a sound clip sounded like Laurel to some people and Yanny to others.
“I don’t know if there was cultural significance for me. But I thought it was interesting that it can so specifically mark the time,” Ashworth says. “Those weeks with Yanny and Laurel were like a thing.”
Another song explores a condition he and drummer Cameron Allen share called “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome,” where one perceives large and small objects as one as they fall asleep. The song treats it with a light-hearted, stream-of-consciousness view.
“It’s like this weird, overwhelming perception,” Ashworth says. “[The song] is a superficial discussion about it. It’s so hard to write about what the feeling even is.”
Overall, the music isn’t anything heavy; it’s more of a sonic adventure. The group digs deep into what a rock trio can sound like with this album, so much so that they barely recognize the band they were when they were still learning how to play their instruments.
“Just listen to the new album. Don’t worry about the old ones,” says Ashworth. “Especially the first one.”
Froth performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, at Felton Music Hall, 627 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15 adv/$18 door. 704-7113.