What did Mates of State do between 2008's "Re-Arrange Us" and the just-released "Mountaintops?" Quite a bit, actually.
Besides touring, the husband-wife duo from Connecticut recorded a set of favorite songs on "Crushes (The Covers Mixtape)" but also explored some areas of personal growth.
"I started learning karate and then started meditating," notes Jason Hammel, adding that his wife, Kori Gardner, also trained in martial arts. "There was sort of a dichotomy between learning how to fight and then learning how to be still. I think a lot of that helps you answer some of the broader questions in life."
Hammel, 35, and Gardner also resolved that they wanted to approach "Mountaintops" differently from their other six albums and produced the set themselves -- which Hammel says was surprsingly copacetic.
"It's a unique situation in that we both contribute to the songwriting and everything that goes into this band, exactly 50 percent," he explains. "I think our first two or three records was sometimes a struggle; we'd fight, just figuring out as artists where we needed to be individually and what that mean for the group, too.
"Now I think we've found that space. We can respect where the other person needs to be in order to be able to create without compromise. And now it's just about improving on that position and getting better at it."
Mates of State, Suckers and Yawn perform Thursday, Sept. 29, at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $19 with a $40 four-pack. Call 313-961-6358 or visit www.livenation.com.