THIRTEEN YEARS AGO, Philip Dickey and Will Knauer named their new band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Four years later, they recorded their debut album, Broom, in the attic of Knauer's parents' home in Springfield, Missouri.
Those two decisions still follow the band at every turn, Dickey says. "The most common question we've been getting for the past five years—other than, 'What does the band name mean?'—was, 'Are you guys ever going to record in the attic again?'"
Enter Fly by Wire, SSLYBY's new album, created in that same attic after some studio sessions didn't turn out quite right. "It was a weird feeling," says Dickey. "Like, if you're in your 20s or 30s and you go back to the room where you were a teenager, it kind of freaks you out a little bit. There are a lot of things to think about.
"But at some point, it stopped being weird," he continues, "and we were just making new memories."
Not just memories, but songs. Fly by Wire is just the latest entry in the band's catalog, which teems with well-crafted indie pop that's often feathery, occasionally crunchy, and almost always irresistibly catchy.
SSLYBY's full-circle story comes complete with an inspiring trip to Russia earlier this year at the invitation of associates of the band's namesake, who died in 2007. As US Department of State Cultural Ambassadors, SSLYBY were honored guests at a school assembly, where they watched a montage of photos of their band and the real Boris Yeltsin as Russian students played the Beatles' "Let It Be."
"That's when I was like, 'Oh my god, we've gone to a funeral for our band,'" says Dickey. "'We should probably just break up now.' That just seemed like the way to go out."
Instead, SSLYBY returned to the States recharged and ready to record with fresh perspective on the band's place in the world. "Every time I get my hair cut, they ask me what band I'm in and I tell 'em, and they're like, 'What the?'" Dickey says. "So... we're obscure forever, but hopefully it's, like, obscure in a good way, where we left some good songs behind."