After this week, most of us are feeling a little burnt out and in need of a good long hike, run, or reading session. Here's what we're spending time with.
Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells
Though some of our staff would have you believe that we're all anti-music evangelists, a few of us at Outside still indulge in the running playlist, and we were happy to hear that we get new music from Sleigh Bells this week. The duo's bombastic noise pop has provided many an energy boost on long runs (we love “Born to Lose” from 2012's Reign of Terror). Even better, singer Alexis Krauss loves the outdoors—she climbs the Gunks, kayaks with her English bull terrier, Rizla, and was recently certified as a New York State hiking guide, working with Discover Outdoors. We asked Krauss about her Outside life and the group's new album, Jessica Rabbit, out November 11.
OUTSIDE: Your Instagram feed suggests you're pretty obsessed with climbing. How did you get into it?
KRAUSS: I didn’t get into climbing until about four years ago. My friends who live on the west coast started climbing outdoors all the time, and one day they brought me with them to a crag outside of Oakland. The first time I climbed outside, I finished the route and burst into tears—I knew it would be an extremely important part of my life. I can’t explain how it makes me feel. It’s something about the singular focus and meditation. It clears my mind. It’s empowering and makes me feel really strong.
Do you have any climbing goals?
I started leading about six months ago, so I still have a ways to go, but I'm working on keeping that calm that you need with trad climbing. I love gear—I'm learning how to build the best anchors. And I have a fantasy of climbing Yosemite—I don't know when that would happen. I have to get a lot fucking stronger! But you have to dream big.
How do you fit nature time in while you're touring?
I always bring my climbing gear with me, but climbing is harder because no one on my crew climbs, so I have to be in a city where I have friends, which isn’t uncommon. In Colorado or California or Vegas, we find time to climb. I always have my hiking stuff with me too. I do research on adventures I can take, especially on days off. It’s a huge part of my touring life. You just commit to doing it and figure out a way to make it happen.
Do you ever bring music with you or do you keep that separate?
I like the quiet. I never bring headphones. I love immersing myself in the world of music so I don’t want to say it’s an escape, but it’s a different sensory experience. Our shows are really loud and in your face, and when I’m outside it’s about listening, feeling, and immersing myself in nature.
About the album—any influences while making it? Any favorite songs?
I look at artists who make bold choices with their music and aren’t influenced by other people’s opinions and current trends. Whether that's the Beatles' white album or Beyonce’s Lemonade, I’m really attracted to artists who are stepping out of people’s expectations of them, or albums that took that left turn and committed to it.
Of course, those are people I have tremendous respect for, but they didn't directly influence the sound of our album. It’s going to be a strange album, but it’s not a first listen kind of thing, you’ll have to go back and listen to it again. I think my favorite song is probably “Torn Clean.” It’s a little quieter, while still sounding very much how Sleigh Bells normally does. It’s a pretty unassuming song that means a lot to me.
‘Hound of the Sea’ by Garrett McNamara with Karen Karbo
The big wave surfer has courted his share of controversy and records. His new autobiography addresses his side of the former and the thrills of the latter. Skip if you couldn't care less about surfing—it's a pretty straightforward chronology of McNamara's life—but it's worth a look for the stories about his less-than-traditional childhood and his clear obsession with chasing oceanic monsters.
Weirdly, I was also held accountable for the awkwardness of the mainstream media people who covered the story. CNN sportscasters don’t generally report on surfing, and I think they can be forgiven for sounding dorky when they say “That was completely gnarly!”, but many in the surf world found this to be heinous. By surfing my big, strange, off-the-beaten path wave I’d drawn the attention of kooks and outsiders. The surfing media made their feelings known about the whole thing by ignoring both the wave and my ride.
Also on Our Reading List: the 12-Words-or-Less Summary
The Fish Market: Inside the Big-Money Battle for the Ocean and Your Dinner Plate by Lee van der Voo: Surprise! Sustainable seafood isn't boring; not always fair, either.
The Unnatural World: The Race to Remake Civilization in Earth's Newest Age by David Biello: Welcome to the Anthropocene. It's not all bad news.
Grand Trail: A Magnificent Journey to the Heart of Ultrarunning and Racing by Frederic and Alexis Berg: Just want to look at pretty pictures of trails and athletes? Enjoy.
Long Read from 'Outside'
The Mysterious Case of the Pacific Northwest's Vengeful Owls
Need we say more?
We’d just finished dinner and a few beers, and Lance was hardly out of my gravel driveway when he felt a hard push, like a hand against his shoulder. He turned around but saw nothing.
A few seconds later, something landed on Lance’s head and began digging its sharp talons into his scalp. Warm blood flowed through his hair. As he flailed his arms in agony, a pair of feathered wings descended over his face, covering his eyes.