Spastic Austin phych rippers Zorch have a new LP out now called ‘ZZOORRCCHH’. It’s great and if you haven’t heard it I think you should listen to it. I decided to have a little chat with the duo comprised of Zac Traeger and Shmu and see what they had to say. The catch is, we’ve all known each other for years now so inevitably this interview took a strange turn and all in all has very little to do with music. But, here it is… (more…)
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Is it just me or is Austin, TX breeding some of the most summer-y music this summer has to offer? And I don’t mean bullshit summer music about crashing your car into a bridge and loving it, I’m talking real deal poppy rock music that is actually good and thought provoking in some form. And yet it seems that many of these releases creep by under the radar of the masses. Why do these seemingly over accessible releases continue to resonate only in the underground basements of devoted music seekers? Well, that’s a think-piece and succession of rant-y tweets for another time. The focus here is Boyfrndz, an Austin band that you may or may not have heard of that released on of my favorite free (name yo price!) releases of the summer, ‘Natures’. If I jogged in the mornings, I would be listening to ‘Natures’, if I… Well, let’s not do the list of things that I could be doing while listening to ‘Natures’ and sum it up like this; If I took my entire summer, made a montage out of it, and had to pick the backing tracks, I would choose ‘Natures’, so I asked frontman Scott Martin some questions about being in a rad band:
TE: What’s it like being in a rad band? Just kidding that’s not my question. How did the three of you get together to start Boyfndz? I know you have been involved with other bands throughout the years
SCOTT: Well, Aaron and I have been friends since high school. He’s been in bands since I’ve known him… I’d been trying to get into a project with him since then and just couldn’t stick it until a couple years ago. Joe and I are musical life partners, it seems… He was in my first band ever, and we left together to form Boyfrndz… When Aaron and I started ripping together, Joe and I just kinda put two and two together.
TE: This project is a bit more ‘pop-y’ if you want to call it that, than past endeavors. Can you speak on that a bit? Was that a conscience decision?
SCOTT: Sure, I think it just ended up that way… We originally wanted to do a more intense weirdo punk type band but it just didn’t end up that way. We never thought out anything before writing it, it always came through Aaron and I’s improv sessions. The songs still come this way.
TE: When we were brainstorming ideas for the “Moving Parts” music video I asked you about the lyrics and you mentioned that they don’t necessarily mean anything in particular. If that’s the case how do you go about writing and choosing your lyrics?
SCOTT: I always write the melodies first. Way before I even consider putting lyrics down… I’ve played through tours ad-libbing lyrics on the fly. I usually just do that until I fit words and phrases I like into the syllable phrases I’ve been riffing on. It’s more fun, and organic for me, than sitting in my bedroom hashing it out.
TE: Have you ever prescribed meaning to lyrics after you have written them? Like, ‘oh I was in that mood when I came up with that, that totally makes sense now’
SCOTT: Yeah, for sure. It ends up coming together in its own way. They usually mirror the tone of the song, because its how I feel about certain parts while I’m rapping them out in the rehearsal space or in the studio.
TE: You guys are putting this LP out on your own. Can we talk about the challenges / rewards of choosing to take this route as opposed to the more traditional route?
SCOTT: We are. Its certainly challenging, financially, at least. We’re coming up with all of this money ourselves, out of our pockets. We really don’t make much at all at our shows, so we work hard getting the money together at our day jobs so we can keep the the wheels turning. We could have taken the other route and just waited around for someone to do it… We definitely would be less broke, but we also wouldn’t have accomplished as much as we have wanted to. We just hope that eventually it’ll be a self sustaining thing, which is all we’re really aiming at now.
TE: You guys also recently started a crowd-funding campaign for the record, how did that idea come about and what was your experience with that? I know some people have reservations and strong opinions when it comes to crowd funding.
SCOTT: We were just going to pay for it out of pocket, initially but everything that goes into putting something out was just getting overwhelming, so we gave it a shot. Thankfully it worked out, and a lot of people donated and we made our mark. We had our reservations, though… It kind of humiliating. To be begging people for money that way… It’s obviously a truly useful and helpful thing, but people really want to believe the funding just comes from somewhere, and sometimes, it just doesn’t. I think we probably lost some “cool cred”, but we don’t give a fuck. We’re just happy to have the level of support we do at this point to have made it happen. Very lucky to have that in the music game these days…
TE: Can I ask the ever predictable interview question and ask if there where any contemporary influences on this new record?
SCOTT: Well our influences are pretty all over the place in general. I’ve been loving the new Grizzly Bear record, and the new Queens of The Stone Age, Tame Impala, the newest Tera Melos release, the new Feuding Fathers is amazing too. Also always jamming this r&b artist Bilal’s record “Love for Sale”… been digging on Raleigh Moncrief for a while, and Death Grips. Meanwhile Aaron is super into hip hop and r&b these days; Dilla, Robert Glasper, MF Doom, etc. Joeys always been a jazz guy, and general rock enthusiast. We all listen to everything though, it keeps our minds open. That new Whirr record is really cool too. We’re doing a couple shows with them next weekend. Stoked for that.
TE: Yeah Whirr is great! Speaking of shows, you guys have a bunch of dates coming up but what are plans for after tour?
SCOTT: After tour we’re planning on going into the studio again to start recording our next release. We’ll be finishing the rest of the US dates we had to postpone early next year, with some festival dates in the works as well. Aaron, and our new guitarist Jesse’s other band East Cameron Folkcore will be in Germany touring for a month, so we’ll be taking a little breather too.
TE: In closing, is there anything else you would want to add? Or any more questions you would want to throw in?
SCOTT: I think that well covers it, Thanks for being interested, amigo.
Stream / Download ‘Natures’ below:
7/30 – Austin, TX @ Holy Mountain w Twin Steps
Aug 2 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada w WHIRR
Aug 3 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk w WHIRR
August 9 – Austin, TX @ MUSEUM OF HUMAN ACHIEVEMENT w/ CADDYWHOMPUS
August 17 – Austin, TX @ SECOND HOUSE SUMMER PARTY (Boyfrndz tour kick off/ Feuding fathers record release) DETAILS/LINEUP TBA
August 22 – Houston, TX @ FITZGERALDS w SUNRISE & AMMUNITION
August 23 – New Orleans, LA @ ONE EYED JACKS w CADDYWHOMPUS, ALL PEOPLE
August 24 – Athens, GA @ CALEDONIA LOUNGE
August 25 – Philadelphia, PA @ TBA
August 27 – Brooklyn, NY @ KNITTING FACTORY w CELESTIAL SHORE
August 28 – Pittsburgh, PA @ SMILING MOOSE w EDHOCHULI
August 29 – Cleveland, OH @ HAPPY DOG
August 30 – Chicago, IL @ THE EMPTY BOTTLE w WATERHOUSE
August 31 – Lawrence, KS @ JACKPOT SALOON w PINK ROYAL, ALIEN JONES
September 1 – Denver, CO @ HI-DIVE w COMMON ANOMALY
September 3 – Norman, OK @ THE DELI w TALLOWS & SONIC VIOLENCE
September 4 – Denton, TX @ HAILEYS w BABAR & CLEAN UP
Sacramento / L.A. two piece Wreck and Reference make the type of twisted experimental sounds that soundtrack your nightmares. And not just any old nightmares where you can’t punch an attacker, or you’re falling endlessly. The type of dark nightmares where your best friend is biting the 2nd tail off a cat with her bloody teeth. The ones where you can’t move as some small sharp-toothed leprechaun chews on your ear and you can feel his hot breath on the side of your face. Those nightmares. Their sophomore LP ‘
Youth‘ was one of my favorite LP’s of last year, and their follow up 7″, ‘ Content‘, was equally as delightful as it was disturbing. I sat down and asked them some questions. (more…)
ZS’ saxist Sam Hillmer’s new solo record entitled KILL THE SELF THAT WANTS TO KILL YOURSELF and released under the moniker Diamond Terrifier, dropped back in August via Northern Spy. An ambitious ‘work-of-art’ of a record that was tremendously overlooked. Hillmer is no stranger to the noise scene, but labeling him as strictly a noise artist would be irresponsible. Hillmer expores realms somewhere in between ‘free-RnB’ ‘Noise’ and highly experimental Sax-riffage, melding pop samples with the abstract and repetitive shrill of harmonizer pedals, static walls of noise, and hints of dub influence to create something truly beautiful in its own horror. The recently released music video for the title track off the LP was equally mesmerizing as the LP itself, clocking in just past the 5 minute mark, yet imposible to take your eyes off. We decided to get the inside scoop. We sat down with Hillmer via G-Chat to get a brief perspective on the project from the man himself.
Who would win, in a sax-off? you or Sexy Sax Man?
Hillmer: I think the only possible victory would be to just bum rush him and fuck him… So I may bow out, but dude IS hot… I’m spoken for though…
Can we talk a little bit about the concept of the video and how it came about? It’s fairly abstract, what was the inspiration?
Well… Lawrence Mesich, the video artist who made it, his work features him double acting in all of these scenes that normally take place in these very steril office environments… There seemed to be certain things at issue in his work that had a resonance with the title I had chosen. So I invited him to do the video, and he accepted, which was awesome… The particulars of the video itself I left completely in his hands.
How does this project differ from say, your prior involvement in ZS?
There is a real direct engagement with pop culture and dance music artifacts via sampling. So that is very different from ZS which has sort of built it’s own world from scratch… I work directly with samples, I take them straight out of pop songs or dance tracks. It’s a way of striking back against the utterly stultifying inundating property that pop has assumed, and also a way of celebrating the really amazing dance trends coming from the global hood, and trying to imagine a place for my I strument in that.
Where do you think that place is?
Out of dialogue with my instruments history as a citizen of a newer attitude about sound that dance trends embody. Tresting the saxophone as a sound source. Just one of many oscilators with specific properties. Shedding the preciousness it has assumed. Which has essentially counted it out of every major innovation in music in the last 25 to 30 years… With the possible exception of Sexy Sax Man…
Stream KILL THE SELF THAT WANTS TO KILL YOURSELF below, and order the LP here.
Solos (Formerly Amaranth) is the new experimental rock venture of Hella’s Aaron Ross and Spencer Seim. Their ‘debut’ if, you want to technically call it that, is one of my favorite, more ‘standard’ rock projects I have heard this year. And while I would most definitely consider Solos ‘Rock Music’ there are elements that stand in a legue of their own. Something about Ross’s unique songwriting abilities juxtapozed against Seim’s technical abilities is somewhat of a match made in heaven. And while I tend to lean more towards more abstract rock stylings, I must say, I am loving this. I had the opportunity to hop on Gchat with Seim whilst he was in the midst of “Typing with his phone while trying to watch cars go 400mph on the salt flats in Utah at Bonneville Speedway” to talk a bit about the recording process, working with Guy Massey, and bluetooth headsets. Here is what he had to say:
TE: How long have you an Aaron been working on this new project? and why the name change from Amaranth?
Spencer: Aaron and I have been working on this project for a little over 2 years now. We played a few shows early on when we were demoing the album. Then, we went into record mode for the full length and wrote the songs for our next album. Amaranth was a working title doing that period so when it came time to officialy release an album we went with Solos.
Aaron seems to have much stronger presence on this record than previous Amaranth stuff, as in, his abilities as a songwriter really shine through. Was that a conscience effort?
We had two amazing producers on this album. Guy Massey and Josh Henry. With the right mics and the right coaching I think we really got the most out of Aaron’s voice.
I remember you talking about wanting to make a record like this for a while now, did this turn out the way you had envisioned it?
Totally! I have done a bunch of super critter lo fi recordings in the past (which I love) but this is something that I have always wanted to do. That is, work in a great studio with great producers who want to expand on what we are already doing. Not change it or water it down.
It’s allot less experimental than some of your previous recordings as well, also in terms of the songwriting, did you two consciously attempt to make more of a ‘rock’ record?
Not consciously. Aaron and I just started getting together and writing music. these are the songs that happened to come out during that time period. I can tell you that our next album will be drastically different. It wasn’t really planned that way, this next batch of songs just represent where our heads are at now musically.
When can we expect the next record?
No release schedule yet. Right now Beast of Both Worlds is taking precedence over everything. We are working on tours for the next year or so and we will fit in recording the next one when we can.
What was it like working with Guy Massey and how did that come about?
Our good friend Josh Henry who co-produced the album with Guy made the connection. He had worked with him previously on another recording and passed our demo along. Guy really liked our stuff and offered to come out and record us for a pretty punk budget. He was already scheduled to come out for the Grammys in Los Angeles for his work remixing and remastering the Beatles collection. We just extended his flight so he could spend 21 days in the studio with us. It was an amazing experience. We couldn’t have asked for more inspiring dudez to work with.
Did you ever have a moment where you took a step back and thought to yourself: ‘Whoa, this fuckin dude worked with The Beatles…”?
Well, he didn’t actually work with the Beatles on the original recordings. I did however stand back and think “Damn” this dude was given the job to remix and remastering the entire Beatles collection. He got to sit down with those original four t?rack tape masters and do his thing with them. Now I understand why he was given that job. Super rad dude with amazing talent.
Can I ask an unrelated question? And, you don’t necicarilly have to answer this, but, I remember a while back in Portland you where sportin a bluetooth because you didn’t like to hold your phone to your head, can you explain that theory? And, if you are still sportin the bluetooth, what is the current decoration setup?
Ha! I used that thing for about a month when I got my first cell phone. I didn’t want to be all Business/Bionic so the thing eventually got squished in my pocket. Big pain in the ass. I got a cellphone pretty late in the game and now I just melt my brain along with everyone else.
What was the decoration setup though? Didn’t you decorate it to make it less business/ bionic?
I think it was more of a fem rasta rave Bluetooth setup.
Haha awesome, anything else you want to add in regards to the record?
Just that we’re super stoked to have it coming out on Joyfulnoise recordings and plan on many records to come.
I personally, am also super stoked, and, ya know, you should be too… And if you aren’t completely sold yet, give it a listen below…
E S S is a brand new doomy rock project hailing from Sacramento, CA championed by Jesse Phillips. Sacramento has for years been a hotbed of musical creativity, while somehow managing to remain vastly diverse. Jesse Phillips is a sort of ‘veteran’ in the Sacramento music scene. Having been involved with various projects throughout the years ranging from his involvement in avante-pop group Appetite, to his own various folk projects. We sat down with Jesse to discuss his newest project, influences, and process.
So, for people that don’t know, what other projects have you been involved in in the past?
My project prior to this was Ellie Fortune, a mostly solo venture primarily in the ‘folk’ category. I have been a part of Dead Western, Hot Girls Cool Guys, as well as many others, and currently Appetite.
Why the name change from Ellie Fortune to ESS?
This project was originally going to be a continuation of Ellie Fortune, yet it became evident fairly quickly that this is something quite different and new.
It seems a lot darker, in terms of the sound, as well as the subject matter. Was that a decision, or did it just turn out like that in the end?
It is definitely conscious. I have always been drawn to intense music, whether it be beautiful, crushing, or abstract. I finally decided to really make exactly what I wanted to. This music is also my regurgitation of living in Sacramento and it’s culture…
Can you elaborate more on that last statement?
Well, I certainly won’t pretend like I can peg this town, but the pace of life is slow, it has an incredibly political base, there is a certain grit that exists here. After a few years it feels like you know everyone, shit gets incestuous and ferments. The result is a tight pocket of some of the best friends and most talented people I’ve met, laced throughout the most flat, numbing, 9 to 5 smogged sprawl.
What was Ben Chrisholms involvement in the record and what is your connection with him?
I met Ben through Chelsea [Wolfe], when they were still in the area. He’s the best. He mastered the record. I couldn’t be more pleased, he really helped this work!
Can we talk a bit about the recording process?
Last year I had a discouraging experience recording a record that never left the studio. I got tired of feeling limited by being broke as fuck so I went ahead and I recorded the whole record with an sm58, and sm57, and some Radioshack mic I’ve had for years. Since I don’t own an interface, I plugged directly into my computer’s input into Garageband. It was just a million hours making sure my tones were right. There really isn’t much involved other than hours and hours of relentless work, It’s ultimately pretty low budget DIY.
You somehow made that home recording sound translate fairly well to suite the vibe and aesthetic of the music… Was that also a conscience decision also or did it just turn out that way?
I like production from all across the board. My favorite recordings are those that can lock into the overall feel of a band and transport the listener into that mood. Whether it’s an icy black metal recording or a chromed out million dollar Jay-Z song, it intensifies the feeling of the music. So… intentional. I also was working with the limitations of a minimal recording setup, so there were plenty of accidental gems…
There are some intense moments, is there any Black Metal influence?
Well, things like tremolo and chorus and fuzzed guitars are more influenced by drugs… The wall of sound and reverb filled textures are more Black Metal. Various types of metal definitely are an influence, yet we’re not a metal band, ya know?
Drug influence? As in, taking drugs while writing?
Haha, no… I mean, not more than usual, I suppose… I meant more like a drug inspired genre of music… which seems to be more and more appealing as a vessel for entertainment and expression. Downers though, always.
What happened with the previous record? I remember you were working on that for some time, are these ESS songs similar?
They are not too similar. It was for a new Ellie Fortune record, full band, pretty grungy… Someone referenced Slint as a comparison, ha.
Will those E.F. songs ever going to see the light of day?
Those tracks are still not mixed or even finished….
Wrapping up, is there anything else coming up that you are excited about?
We’ll have to see! Nothing to announce now. We don’t have a label or management or booking, and we all have to have jobs (no family checks) to pay rent, etc. So, for now we practice always, write always, there is an infinite agenda…
Tera Melos are an experimental rock band from Sacramento, CA. We sat down for a quick chat with front-man Nick Reinhart to chat about their upcoming record, past and future collaborations and prank phone calls.
You guys are working on a new record right now? How’s that going?
Good. We’ve done most of all the basic tracking- guitar, drums and bass. Started vocals before fIREHOSE tour. It is looking like we’ll finish everything up after Europe.
Are you guys taking any different approaches with this record? Anything different that you are excited about?
Well we initially set out to make a more back to basics, mellow, minimal record. At least that was my idea around this time last year. But that totally did not happen. Haha. The vibe of the record is a little more straightened out than before. Although our idea of straightened out is probably still pretty out there for all intents and purposes. All the new stuff is very exciting, mostly just because it exists in territories that we haven’t really explored.
In what way? What sort of territories?
I guess I wouldn’t know how to describe it other than knowing that it’s something that we haven’t done musically. It could probably be quantified by the average, casual listener as sounding “less fucked up.”
“Patagonian Rats” Your last record, I would say was fairly accessible for the average music listener, would you say this record is going to be more poppy?
There are a few choruses that will get stuck in your head, so I guess that makes it more poppy. People that liked our last record will definitely like this one.
How does the writing process go? Who comes up with what?
I typically demo songs bedroom style and send them to Nate and John. They kind of hash out parts on their own and then we get together and piece it all together. This record came together pretty fast. I think we did 8 songs in like two weeks. Well that’s fast for us at least. There have been times in the past where we spent months and months on one song
Any band bickering or funny studio stories? You guys are fairly renowned pranksters…
Hmm no bickering or drama this time around. At least not yet. It’s probably a combination of things, having a better/stronger musical chemistry and approaching the songs with the less is more concept. When you write songs with ten thousand changes it gets difficult putting it all together and that’s when there’s band drama. I’m probably speaking too soon. The record is only halfway done, so there’s plenty of time for drama. We haven’t prank called anyone in awhile. Might have to do that soon.
Who would be your ideal person to prank call if you could get their number and what would you do to prank them?
I used to have this weird ass stalker that I’ve known since i was 12. Every few years he’d pop up and incessantly call me and leave me disturbing messages. I think he was trying to have sex with me or something. He kept calling me “square bear” in a very feminine voice on all the messages. We prank called the shit out of him a few years ago and haven’t heard from him since. his name is Corey, “crazy Corey.” I got a current number for him from a random guy that we ran into at our practice spot once who happen to be a mutual friend, who Corey also happened to stalk. Every time I’ve tried to call him it goes to an unassuming voice mail box. It’s been almost 20 years of avoiding this psycho and I’d kind of like to keep the tradition alive.
How did you happen to meet this man when you where 12?
He was a friend of my very first girlfriend. I think she gave him my phone number because we were both into punk music. I remember talking about Bad Religion with him the very first time we ever spoke. He would come over to my house and stay the night for like 3 days in a row and I’d try to tell my mom that he was insane but she didn’t want me being rude to him. He’d bring his guitar over and show me his shitty metal riffs. For years and years I would ask him, “what would you do if i took that guitar and threw it out the window?”
What do you think he would do?
Probably rape me. The very sad thing is that I’ve known him longer than I’ve known any of my closest friends.
S: How is Sacramento right now? Any music you have heard coming out of there that you are excited about at the moment?
I haven’t been to too many shows lately. I heard Carson [McWhirter] practicing the other day before we left and it sounded awesome. Pretty much anything that guy does is rad. Jon Bafus’ band Gentleman Surfer is really good. I saw them play awhile back and they were super cool. Actually they played with Appetite who were also great. I caught up with Zach [Hill] the other night and it sounds like Death Grips are going pretty hard. Excited to hear what they’re coming up with.
You have been playing with Jon Bafus recently as well right? Improv shows and whatnot, can we expect any recordings with him or any other collaborations outside of Tera Melos?
Jon and I actually started writing a handful of songs together. They were sounding really cool and different from anything I’ve done. Then i got busy with T.M. stuff and he’d just put together Gentleman Surfer so the timing was a little off to complete anything. We’ve both talked about definitely wanting to finish and record them. As for other stuff- still working on my own music. I started getting pretty deep with it but then, again, the T.M. stuff got happening and that takes priority. I kind of have a hankering to do some weird acoustic shit. I would also love to do something with Zach again. It’s been awhile and I miss that shit. And Mike Watt and I have been planning a record with Nels Cline [Of Wilco] and Greg Saunier [Of Deerhoof]. We were supposed to be working on it right around now but Nels plays in Wilco and they just put out a new record, and Watt got fIREHOSE back together. So hopefully we can start figuring stuff out this summer.
Any plans to get back together with Matt Klamm and/or Garret Vander Leun to work on another film like Snakeville?
I actually just watched Snakeville with an impartial observer the other day and they actually liked it a lot. I’m usually skeptical about friends or Tera Melos fans saying they like it because they could just think it’s funny watching us act like idiots. I hadn’t watched it in a couple years and I was actually cracking up. I had tears in my eyes at one point. Making that movie was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. It was revisiting all the stuff we did as kids. We’ve all talked about doing it again. I was just texting Garrett about it this morning. He said, “I don’t think I’ll ever have that fun a summer again.” I think it’s just a testament to us not wanting to grow up and become “real” adults.
Cool, well, wrapping this up, when can we expect the record? does it have a title yet?
No title yet. I guess the record can’t come out until next year. so hopefully Jan/Feb 2013. Sucks but that’s the way it is.
Cool. Anything else you want to add?
Massive thank you to Mike Watt and fIREHOSE for inviting us on to their reunion shows. Last night Mike told us that it’s like when bands would take out the Minutemen and everyone would be freaked out, but fucking stoked- it’s carrying on the tradition of exposing people to new and interesting music. He also said that touring with us reminds him of touring with the “The Hüskers” and “The Flag.” holy shit.
The Portland music scene has always been a vibrant mecca of creativity. A true DIY city where the young seem to call the shots and run the show. This may be due to Portland being one of the most liberal, arts and music friendly city in the pacific northwest, or possible the harsh long winters that keep the young and creative holed up in basements and living rooms for months on end. Whatever it may be, the outcome is truly dense community of immensely creative individuals with unparalleled output. We hopped on G-Chat with Eric Gage of The Memories / White Fang / founder of DIY tape label Gnar Tapes, to chat about his current projects and the city he calls home.
Hey Eric, hows Portland nowadays, whats the scene like nowadays?
Shit I’m not sure. cohesive but fractured
In what way?
It’s a small place. High density of creative fools. Cool people but in a small space. Things change a lot with the seasons, radically.
Yeah it seems as if everybody up there sort of bounces around between projects. What Projects are you involved in right now?
What is like running your own tape label and putting out your own music, you’ve been doing Gnar Tapes for years now right?
Ya I been doing it for a long time. Adam Forkner [White Rainbow] told me to start doing it. Started slow. Was a lot of our own crew then, as far as releases now, it’s mostly not our own music and only half the stuff we do is from Portland. We’re on our 80th release. We release shit in weird staggered batches. It’s really cool. Having Young Prisms next, R. Stevie Moore, a lot of cool shit. It helps me feel connected to the world around me.
Awesome, how did The Memories come about? Can you explain who all the members are and how you all know each other?
The Memories started with just me and Kyle from White Fang in the summer 2010. we were doing it for fun. slow. That’s why it’s only coming out now. But with our bassist is Izak, from BOOM! who also raps as Skinny Jesus. We played for a little while with the drummer of BOOM! / Guantanamo Baywatch. but he quit / his girlfriend at the time made him quit / something like that. We never knew, but now our drummer is Aaron Levy who is THE man. He’s played around PDX for years, he’s only a little older. he played guitar in Meth Teeth, he’s cool.
How do think Portland differs from other cities in terms of ‘community’ it seems much more tight nit up there and the creative output is fairly insane… Thoughts?
I don’t know much about other cities’ communities other than touring. I hear things, I compare in my head. I think Portland is like a hub town where many people live at some point in their lives, so it seems like so many people are coming out of here. But most of the musicians I know are from other places, especially the older ones. But I think my generation is like one of the first Portland native generations to embrace itself, or at least in such a big way. I mean I still feel like Portland natives making this kind of music is rarer, but it seems like most of the kids in high schools around here seem to be more interested than when I was in high school even though that was only 5 years ago. Music and the internet have changed a lot since then. Really a lot. I feel like the close knit thing is different than that though [???], or part of it, because it’s so ever-changing. people have these little crews. Temporary a lot of the time it seems. It’s a lot of incidentals, and the winter is so cabin fevery. It’s just wet and dark a lot. Allergies. Cold. Flu.
Do you think that the technology shift has helped? I mean, you all used to screen-print posters and through shows in your basement and whatnot, is that sort of ‘make it yourself’ attitude different now that you don’t necessarily need to do that?
Technology helped change the way I thought about things I guess. We still screen-print posters and throw basement shows. We never NEEDED to do it, really. We never cared if people came or not unless they wanted to. Inclusive / voluntary. Technology just helped find other like minded people, and that helps fuel the flames and to grow and evolve, to think about what’s going on around you, good and bad, real life / art / real art life. Where you put your work when it’s done. what streams do you send it down.
In what ways would you say it has been bad?
I guess when I said that I mean drawing in inspiration. I don’t know what’s good or bad about technology other than what it means to each individual person. Like Facebook, some people can just hang and do nothing, or they can start talking to people like them or looking for people like them. The only thing bad about it is getting caught up in it the wrong way I guess. Masturbatory. haha. does that make sense?
I try not to go too deep about that stuff anymore. Used to drive me nuts. Made me all anxious and sad…
Why was the decision made to start a new band? why not just adapt white fang songs?
That’s a good question. It’s not something we realized or could explain fully at first, other than the approach was vastly different and white fang was evolving into this 4 boy collective style, embracing our own strengths and opening doors in a different way. I don’t know if you’ve heard “Positive Feedback” which is coming out in June. It’s a lot different than all of Fang’s other stuff too. It goes back to what I said about where you put your art when it’s finished. It’s also about what feelings you’re trying to showcase. The approach, the feeling, it was not the same. The Memories is very pop-focused. More soft and breezy. Whereas Fang is celebratory, wild and dude-ish and we all as individuals make so much music that we needed a process to filter out where / what feelings went where / what. We’ll write a song and then figure out where it goes. We never approach a song really attempting to make it for any particular project. We focus on each song on its own. Sometimes it’s obvious and the feeling lets you know what it’s gonna be and you’ll know before you finish the song.
That’s cool. How did you guys get linked up with Underwater Peoples?
I’d met Alex Bleeker from Real Estate a couple years back at SXSW. I didn’t know anything about Real Estate. We started talking about Little Wings and Thanksgiving and Marriage Records. Kind of kept in touch from there. Had a bunch of mutual buds, especially Young Prisms and Melted Toys. Those two bands, they must have sent the music to U.P. Then Bleeker asked me if I would ask Little Wings to play with Bleeker’s solo band in SF, since Kyle Field is a friend of mine [Of Little Wings]. Kyle said yeah and The Memories were asked to come down and do the show too. Mimoun from U.P. and I were drinking on Wakefield’s porch and it just kind of worked itself out. It was like when you have a crush on a girl and you think they’re crushing too, but you’re just not sure until you start talking and then it’s totally on, super easy, like, the Gnar Tape did really well. Which is what the LP is, except mastered.
The Memories’ LP comes out 4/24. White Fang’s is out in June. In a lot of ways, the White Fang record helps explain to The Memories’ one. The vibes explored on that one (way more GBV, Pink Floyd-isms, R. Stevie isms, Minutemen, Americana) help explain why The Memories focus is the dreamy in THAT way.
Would you say that they are sort of ‘alter egos’ of each other as far as projects go?
Yes. One is not greater than the other. Fang is different, but they are pretty different. White Fang is more observation of a wider scope of the world. The Memories is love, pleasure, feelings, kissing, girls. Fang is like, no-haters, van life, skating, bbqs, couch lock
Rad, anything else you would want to add or say or anything?
Don’t fret the stress, just stress them frets.
When an album is released, it is picked and prodded at by critics and fans alike. The songs are played over and over and read at their face value. But often times, we as listeners forget that there is another dimension to an album: the mind and timeline that went into creating it.
Tera Melos’ masterpiece “Patagonian Rats,” with its vast array of swooping content, acid-tripped melodies and unforgettable hooks was released to the public in September of 2010. With it being the band’s first or second full length (it is a long story), it was put under the critic’s microscope. Sure we all know it is technical, sure we all know it is a poppy rendition of a traditional “Melos-piece”, but do we know the emotional and exhausting story that ended up being just under 50 minutes long? Such a story needs to be told, and thus unfolds here today.
Going into the writing process, did you have any ideas for what you wanted “Patagonian Rats” to be?
Nathan Latona: We had started writing one or two songs with our old drummer. When Vince quit, it was like let’s see what happens next. We realized we could write new material that would lend to a different type of drummer. We knew the drummer was going to help carve out the direction that our band was going to go in, we were going into the unknown.
John Clardy: I think there was definitely an idea going into it, if nothing else that it would be another step in the path the band has been on with its releases. When I first joined Tera Melos they mentioned that the new songs were “headed in a less freaked out direction” which made sense looking at the lineage from the first album to “Drugs to Complex.” I was on board with that immediately because I thought each of those releases improved upon the last one. I could see the melding of the gnarly out there stuff and vocals with a strong emphasis on melody coming along and felt good about it.
Nick Reinhart: I don’t think I could articulate the idea we had for it. It was just something we had wanted to do for a long time. A few people have asked about the theme of the record: my answer is “Patagonian Rats” is Patagonian Rats. It wasn’t until after we finished recording it that we realized it had its own life and became its own thing. I think it is a really cohesive record that’s incredibly fucked up and non-cohesive at the same time. To me, this is something I’ve always wanted to do with the band. When our old drummer quit, we wanted to further explore song structure coupled with some newer ideas/concepts and write a record that we’d always wanted to write, so we found a drummer that could do just that. Our band has always sounded the way we wanted it to sound based on what we were capable of. We were not good enough 5 years ago to write Patagonian Rats.
How did the writing process begin?
NL: We were busy getting John caught up on our old material, so we didn’t write a lot initially. We wrote one song to play from front to back for practice purposes and scrapped it. We finally sat down and said “Let’s go somewhere neutral to all of us and write new without old looming over us.”
JC: Before I’d actually even joined Nick had sent me two “skeletons” of guitar only tracks that outlined the song ideas. The first new thing we started working on became the song “Patagonia” though we hit a wall and shelved it until right before recording.
A lot of the other songs came about in a similar manner, starting with guitar ideas. Right after my first tour with the band we kind of bunkered down in a rehearsal space in Los Angeles and that’s when we really starting working on things for the album as a whole.
Where did you write the album?
NL: We ended up in LA and began writing the first half of the album at a rehearsal space up the road from Sargent House. We would walk 20 minutes everyday to practice and beat each other up trying to figure out what to write. When we’d get home we would go our separate ways. I would sit downstairs and work on stuff. Nick would record new stuff and John would go walk around and think about parts. The next day we’d meet up and do it all over again. Another time we went out to Texas for a couple weeks and wrote a bit out by where John is from. On another break from tour Nick had moved to Hollywood temporarily and we got a practice spot there. We met up for another month and we finished up the record.
How did writing the album in different locations affect the writing process?
JC: I had fun with it, I’d read about other bands doing it and always kind of wondered what it would be like. Looking back it’s nice being able to think of or hear a song and remember kind of where its life began. Something that I think makes it all work is that it reflects the dynamic that the band has with me living in a different state than the other guys. It was new for the band at the time and from what I understand, so was the method of writing in that manner.
NR: I think it had a non-tangible direct influence on the record, which probably makes it an indirect influence (laughs). LA was cool because it took us out of our comfort zone and we were really able to focus. Writing this type of music very arduous. We have friends in bands that talk about how they get together once, maybe twice a week for practice and it consists getting a couple of twelve packs of beer, joking around, hanging out, going over a couple songs and then maybe jamming a new riff, which is definitely not the case with this band. A lot of the time when writing the album, practice took on the role of actual work, and that’s totally fine. That seems like it’d have negative connotations, but that’s what it takes to get it done. So being away from our home distractions helped to keep us focused on what we were trying to achieve.
Writing at John’s house in Texas was interesting because Nate and I hate Texas. We have had (and continue to have) amazing shows there, the people are great and we have some really close friends there, but I think the state itself is awful (laughs). It’s massive, dry, bleak, humid and a whole bunch of other things we’re not fans of. I think this had more of a true indirect influence on the writing process. We’re already doing this mentally exhausting activity, and then couple that with being in this weird place that’s really foreign to us. But I like those types of situations, as I believe they help to push the creative process in unusual ways.
What was the writing process like?
NL: Nick and I always know what each other are thinking, we’ve got the telepathy thing going. Nick would come with a riff or a guitar part. He could have easily written everything but he left room for us to be creative. He understood that we wanted to figure things out on our own. I know he wanted us to write our own stuff. He had direction sometimes. He would be like “hey dude we should both mash on this same chord you know?” We did that in “Skin Surf” and it worked. Sometimes we’d sacrifice things because it would be better for the song as a whole.
JC: Writing a Tera Melos song is a long, sometimes painful process for all involved, but not in a bad way. It takes a lot of work and lots of trial and error making a bunch of crazy pieces fit together to make the “final” product, and I put that in quotations because even after a song has been recorded and maybe put on a release, its evolution doesn’t stop there, because it will often see changes when it gets played live.
NR: Nate and John are usually composing to parts that I’ve already come up with. That could either be a riff or an entire song. There haven’t been too many times, by comparison, that I’ve been put in their position and had to write to something someone else has shown me. That can be a good and a bad thing. Good because we’re happy with the process by which we write songs and we’ve always been stoked on what comes out of it. Bad because I can get too comfortable and prohibit myself from pushing my own boundaries. It’s not usually a problem though because I have little ways to jolt myself out of that comfort zone. So the process I go through in writing music is very different from what I imagine those guys have to go through. I start off with zero context. Most of my ideas come from just playing guitar on my own. I’ll come across a melody or a part I really like and build upon that. Eventually that becomes the skeleton of a song.
Is there any greater significance in the content of the album, besides the individual song meanings that is?
NL: When our old drummer Vince quit our band we were fucked. I remember being so depressed. All the years I put into this could have been for nothing. It was just Nick and I. I didn’t harbor any ill feelings for either Vince or (former guitarist) Jeff, but it came down to how much we depended on each other for our futures. We both had a drive to not give up and took the harder road, which was finding someone and trying writing a new album. Losing a drummer really set back our lives for a year and when you’re young that’s a big deal. The industry moves so fast and we’re really lucky that we have such a supportive fan base that was hanging on to see what would happen. So basically, our album encapsulates that time off we had and how ready and eager we were to show people that we have time and things to do.
Now moving onto the actual content of the album, from where did the utilization of broken time signatures and breaks in songs come?
NR: At this point it’s just naturally how we write music. Rarely are we conscious about making something have that odd time signature feeling. Although there are times where we second guess ourselves and will ask each other, “Wait, is that too normal sounding?” (laughs). The awesomeness of a riff or part can sometimes depend on a small factor that, when missing, can make all the difference. I think we usually tend to question chord/melodic progressions though. Like I mentioned, the timing and rhythm of the stuff we write is just second nature now. However, I did record my lawn sprinklers the other day because they were creating this really strange pattern that I thought could be cool for something. Ive gone back to listen to it a couple of times and have no idea what is happening (laughs).
How did the addition of more and more vocals affect the writing and recording process?
NR: It played a big part. With the addition of vocals we started utilizing those weird things called “verses” and “choruses.” We were pretty conscious of it. Now it wasn’t weird to do this or that part for a little longer because we knew there’d be vocals helping to move it along. Whereas before that was one of the reasons that our music was so quick moving from part to part. We wanted to keep it interesting for the listener and ourselves. There are very few instrumental bands that I listen to because I’m not a big fan of where most people tend to take instrumental music. So it was really weird being in an instrumental band for so many years (laughs). But that was the challenge: turning it into something we really liked. Adding vocals opened up a lot of possibilities for us. It took a few years, but we finally got comfortable writing and performing with them in mind.
JC: We had 4 days of studio time to track drums which were the first things recorded for the album. For this record only a couple of the songs had finished vocal parts so I was largely unaware of what the vocal melodies and rhythms would be. I was a little bummed at first because I really like my drum parts to mesh with the vocal lines, but actually the finished versions of both worked with each other really well.
NL: Our first record was written with vocals in mind, but the decision was made for the vocals to be background noise. We didn’t know how to fully incorporate vocals; it was still very early for us. When were doing the songs for “Complex”, Vince and Nick thought that was the way to go and I was hesitant. I thought the instrumental thing was making us special and naturally I was worried how adding vocals would work. I still didn’t know how we would do vocals. After that “Idioms” needed vocals, and so we began doing “Patagonian” with vocals in mind. We were basing things around vocals and experimenting like that. By now I had warmed up to vocals and saw Nick progress and do the vocals. I was able to throw in suggestions and it has given our songs a new light for me.
Now let’s go through each track on “Patagonian Rats” and get the inside story on each of them
NL: Nick had sent me a demo titled “diddy.” We’re always like “here’s a little diddy.” He said “I don’t know why I’m sending this to you, it’s nothing you even need to write to I think it would be cool to use.” “Kelly” is just another “diddy” we’d use as an intro. Before we went on our first tour, Nick and I would listen to top 40 radio everyday. There was one Red Hot Chili Peppers record, I think Stadium Arcadium. We called it Kelly because Anthony Kiedis sounds like “Kelly-fonia” instead of California. We used it as a set intro and “So Occult” worked really well with it.
NR: “So Occult” was a little piano part I’d had for years. Always thought it’d make a cool intro. It was too “old timey” sounding, like something that’d be playing in a saloon in the 1800’s (laughs). So we used the chord arrangement on piano and the accompanying melody was done with falsetto vocals, making it much less saloon sounding. “Kelly” was also a very old song. We’d been playing that one instrumentally for a few years. I thought it was really cool that, while technically there is a buried guitar track in “Kelly,” that there was really no guitar on the first couple of minutes of our record.
NL: “Skin Surf” was another one that Nick had sent a demo of just the guitar lead, I had no idea what time signature it was in. Sometimes I really have to struggle, listen to a song and fall asleep to it. That high part that harmonizes with the guitar part just jumped out to me. A lot of the time constructing bass parts I think of a vocal melody and play that. John and I would be playing on the upbeats together for the verses and for the chorus me and Nick would “do the Weezer” and mash on the chord, play in conjunction with each other. For the “thrashy part” at the end, we had the riff looped and John just played a bunch of things to it. I wanted to play something different. I came up with a tone that sounded like an organ: like Black Sabbath meets Black Flag. I came up with this weird part that just counters everything. Pat looked at me like “what the fuck are you doing, how is this in the song?” and Nick was like “that sounds pretty evil, really cool.”
NR: I remember not liking the main riff of this one until we were all playing it in the practice spot. I’d demoed the song and sent it to the guys but was iffy on it. The ending too- the out of nowhere thrash part. It’s like, what? Why did I think that would sound good there? But when we started practicing, it all made sense. Now it’s one of my favorite songs.
JC: This was the first ones that we wrote in Los Angeles that ended up making the cut. It took me a long time to come up with a drum part that I liked for the verses. There was a certain sense of movement that I wanted to convey, almost like a shuffle.
NL: We got into our first “battle” while writing it. We had a feeling for the chorus and John wasn’t down with it. We were thinking like Flaming Lips with big crashing drums. John liked the idea but wasn’t into the drum sound for that. It took us a while before we were all happy with how it came out. I was stoked because the bass part also came easy to me.
NR: I remember thinking the ending reminded me of Deerhoof somehow. Also, the little twinkle sound that starts the song and comes in every once in awhile- I had to fight to keep that in. John didn’t like it very much; rather he didn’t think it needed to appear as often as it did. We’re all happy with it now of course, but at the time that little 1-second sample was not a fun topic of conversation! (laughs)
JC: An older version of this was one of the two tracks that Nick sent me; the intro in particular was very different. After it got changed I again struggled to come up with a part that I liked for it, whereas what I play on the “got a job at a party shop” section popped into my head the first day we started working on the revamped version. The really tricky busy part about halfway through was a total nightmare for me to track, and I imagine it wasn’t easy for the rest of the guys when they were putting their parts down over it later on. Originally I was going to play on the later part of the song but couldn’t really come up with anything that we were all stoked on so we left it to the minimal programmed drums. I think this is one of the really standout songs on the record.
NL: I think we were touring and Nick did a demo of it and thinking about writing to certain parts really stressed me out. I had no idea what to do in the verse, or in the quick jazzy part at the end. It was really stressful. For the first part I was going to think outside the box and write a part around one pedal that I have. I decided on the pitch shifter I used because I like the swooping electronic feel, so I wrote around that. We love older Flaming Lips and I thought about some of the bass lines on “Pink Robots” and how a lot of them have that weird swooping feeling.
NR: Cool things about this one: the 3 second Police/ska sounding part is awesome, the fast jazz chord bridge is one of my favorite parts on the record (The strat copy I used on the record was the guitar used on the bridge/outro. I think we even went direct and reamped the signal. We wanted that really thin, 80’s sounding compressed guitar tone) and lyrically it is about me and my friends working at Party City off and on for years and years.
JC: This song came about after drums had already been tracked for the album. I’d had the beat that I play during the chorus since before I joined Tera Melos, Nick had always liked it and had me record it during the final day of drum tracking. A few months later he sent me this song he’d put together out of multiple ideas from all of us and it was amazing to hear what it had become.
NL: Nick showed us the prechorus one-day and we jammed it a bit and we didn’t really do anything with it. We left it up to the recording. It reminded me a little bit of Jesus Lizard but it ended up coming out nothing like that. After the whole record was done and recorded Nick just put it together with Pat, with samples. John made drum samples of him playing each of his drums and we used that and then I came in once and played the bass line and then looped it. We laughed because that’s something that would happen on a rap album, but we wanted it to have this weird drum feeling. After stressing out so hard it was nice to be like “that’s a cool idea.”
NR: This is one of those tricks I had of jolting myself into new territory. It was a completely new way of writing a song for me. I also remember being a little worried about the reception of this song, namely because our label wanted to release it as the first single. It’s not that I didn’t stand behind 100%, it was more because if that was the first thing people heard off of our record, they were going to be confused, even more so than usual, and I wasn’t sure if that’d be a good thing or a bad thing.
JC: The second half of this song was another headache for me write a part that we all felt worked with it. A couple of guys recently transcribed the entire song into sheet music, very mind-blowing.
NL: When we were writing the midsection to the end of the part that is pretty much straight, we knew that people were going to think, “this is really weird for Tera Melos.” It’s a really straightforward part with a Pixies and Deftones feeling. We added a little skip in it so you have to think about it.
NR: This song, along with “Sky Watch” was written in my bedroom in a day or two in November of 2009. I remember thinking, “Ok, I want to write two songs, I don’t want to sit on them for months and months. I want to finish two songs.” Instead of stewing on this or that and developing it over time, I just wrote it and was real happy with it.
JC: “Sky Watch” was, for whatever reason, one of the easiest songs for me to track. There’s two sections at the end that to me have a kind of “spiraling” feel and for the second one in particular I wanted to make a part that felt like it was underwater. I almost always have that visual when we play this song.
NR: This one’s a basher. Pat Hills (engineer) said the vocals in the verse reminded him of Propagandhi. There’s a lyric in the song that people mistake for the word “figaro.” as in, “figaro, figaro figaro.” I’m surprised people think we’re that dumb or maybe that far out to have that sung over and over again in a song (laughs). The lyric is “beguiled” just to clear things up.
“Party with Gina”
JC: “Gina” and “Westham” were written before an East Coast tour at the place I was living in Texas at the time. Something about the beginning of this song makes me think of an old NES game. Actually I guess a lot of this song does because the kind of dark sounding parts towards the end made me think of Castlevania or some other medieval kind of vibe.
NL: We started writing it with Vince. Nick said, “We have ‘Party with Tina’, and I wanted to have a song called ‘Party with Gina’.” It’s actually a meth reference; it’s slang that’s used on Craigslist a lot. “Whos got some Tina? I wanna party with Tina” Gina is a different strain of it.
NR: This one along with “Trident Tail” and “Purple and Stripes” are sort of the long super crazy songs from the batch. The last lyric of the song is one of my favorites: “sitting on a rock for now, never gonna leave this rock.”
JC: “Another Surf” came about when we had extra studio time after I’d finished tracking drums. Someone had the idea to record the end riff from “Skin Surf” over and over with each phrase being played a little differently. We cut the wonky parts out and everyone got to have fun getting weird all over this one.
NL: The end riff of “Skin Surf” is really cool, but I wanted to elevate it to an even crazier level. We thought it would be cool to remix ourselves. We thought, “Let’s play it until John can’t play it anymore. Let’s get a dude to come in and wail on sax.”
NR: We struggled with whether or not we wanted to have the “all my friends” part included or go straight into the thrash part. I’m glad we kept it in there. I love everything about this track. It’s so obnoxious and awesome. We’ve always joked about how parts of our songs are “fuck yous” to this or that. Well “Another Surf” is the biggest “fuck you” we’ve ever written (to date).
JC: I got to utilize a rhythmic concept that I’d been really interested in on this song, the idea of what I call “rubber time.” You can hear on the phrases that go back and forth with the kind of reggae-ish parts in the middle of the song, I wanted to kind of push and pull the tempo in an exaggerated way to create a kind of giant rubber band feel.
NL: This song has a pop punk feeling, and I mean like pop elements and punk elements. It’s actually pretty funny to me, a song being written in Texas about punks in the 70s in Britain. Westham United is a football club that has a big support group of punks. It was just channeled to be more punk. I think a life changing record is “Red Medicine” by Fugazi. It has a lot of atonal noise parts. I wanted to have poppier parts that led into atonal noise parts. It’s kind of a mix of Fugazi influences with other punk stuff.
NR: There are a lot of cool things happening in this song melodically-
as in odd notes/chords that we make work somehow. That’s one of the (hopefully) many things that make this band unique. You find a lot of melodic shifts in classical music and film scores. We try and apply some of those concepts to our music. Also, the sax in the bridge part is so cool.
“A New Uniform/Patagonia”
JC: “Patagonia” is the other song that underwent a lot of changes and made the list of songs to record towards the end, kind of a “Hey maybe we should finish this song” thing. The drums on the verse are one of my favorite parts that I’ve written, I wanted it to be an extended phrase that went from being tom based to snare and hi hat based. Nate described this as being a very “triumphant” sounding song, which I agree with. I like how almost playful the middle to end of the song is, which is a contrast to the difficulty we had writing it. One of the sections before the chorus (that starts around 1:19 in to the song) reminds me of the “Rainbow Road” kind of courses in Mario-Kart. It’s probably my favorite song on the album.
NL: We went to see a friend’s hardcore band play and we noticed that all the dudes in our friend’s band and people at the show were dressed like this; everyone was wearing a flannel and a beanie. We were like “this is the new uniform.” That’s just a Nick solo track, bass drum, one guitar track and Nick doing vocals. It’s a really cool lead in to “Patagonia.” The guitar line of “Patagonia” was initially a sample that Nick would trigger, but it felt weird with the sample coming out of nowhere. I really liked the part that I came up with at the end, and I really liked that I wrote it around a pedal. When we had extra time in Hollywood we put it together in a day, which is really rare for us.
NR: I think this song was originally referred to as “Theater,” because we’d originally worked on it when we were practicing in the basement of an old movie theater. If I recall correctly, I wanted to scrap it because I wasn’t stoked on my parts. When we were almost done writing the album revamping that song got brought up. We must have rearranged the parts I wasn’t happy with because now I think it’s an awesome song.
Onto the actual recording process, what gear did you use and what were you going for tonally?
NR: For amps I used a Fender Twin and a Marshall JCM 800. Both belong to our engineer, Pat. The Marshall had a cool mod where you could get an extra boost on the dirty channel by pulling up on one of the knobs.
There were a handful of guitars used. From what I can remember: a Peavey Destiny, my custom surf-green Peavey, an Epiphone Les Paul with a Bigsby vibrato custom installed and coil tap (this is Pat’s guitar. I used it for really thin sounding jangley parts) and a really cheap but awesome sounding Strat copy (also Pat’s guitar. fun fact: I actually traded this guitar to Pat for a Korg KP2. The guitar was given to me by this rad, tech wizard friend of ours, David, in Arizona). There may have been more. Pat and I have loads of guitars between the two of us, so we just kind of picked whatever we were in the mood for.
This was the first time that I really cared about my tone when it came time to record. I think tone is super important, but it was always sort of complicated for me, because rather than seek out the tone I was looking for, I had to create it with the equipment I already had. This was, and still is, mostly a practical and financial issue. I own a Mesa Triple Rectifier and a Peavey 6505 combo. There’s not a whole lot to be done tone-wise with those two amps.
I really wanted an awesome tone for the record and was able to accomplish that with Pat. I’m not sure what I was going for other than a nice, natural sounding overdriven guitar. I didn’t want to rely on too many tone-shaping pedals. It’s pretty much broken down into: real clean parts with the fender twin, rock parts with the JCM 800 and then super rock parts with the JCM 800 plus the mod.
Pat Hills: I think my ideas were most utilized when it came to vocals. Tera Melos is a pretty tight band musically. They know what their going for and most of the time its already been well thought out. So musically I may have only offered opinions on tone but not musically. Vocally it was a little different of a story. This was Nick’s first attempt at putting prominent original vocals to a Tera Melos recording. So Nick was a little on edge, second guessing things and really just making sure that the vocals were on and interesting. I personally love recording vocals and working out harmonies. So I had a fair amount of ideas when it came to background vocal harmonies.
JC: As far as the drum sound goes, I knew going in that I wanted a really big room sound. I’ve been really into drum sounds for a long time and my favorites are the big Flaming Lips/When the Levee Breaks type ones. Those aren’t always compatible with music as “busy” as ours so there had to be a degree of compromise. Flossy, the engineer understood what I was going for and did a great job finding the middle ground.
Robert Cheek: John was describing to me how he wanted the drums to sound and it sounded great on paper but it proved a little difficult to implement so we had to come up with a compromise of sorts. He was really into the idea of having it super ‘roomy’ like ‘In Utero’ which every drummer wants but with their music (Tera Melos) he plays so fast that the room mics start to sound like mush and take away from the intricacies of his playing. With that said we probably spent about 3 hours going through different combinations of room mics and placement to get them as big and detailed as possible before ever even listening to what the close mics were doing. I was going to borrow a ‘Keplinger’ snare drum from a friend of mine, which is my favorite to record, but as it turned out John had just purchased one and I believe it arrived the day before recording. He plays live with only 1 bass drum head and I did my best to make it work but ultimately had him put on a second head to get more low end and resonance.
NL: The happiest I’ve been with bass tone was on “Idioms Vol. 1”. Every other time we’ve recorded bass it’s been so much more of a hassle, reamped and done dry. The tone is so naked and sounds like shit. Listening to yourself not sounding your best does something psychological to you. For “Idioms” we just recorded it live without reamping in the theatre we recorded in. I wanted to do bass with Pat because he did that. We did a mix between natural signal and a Marshall half stack. That’s what Kid Dynamite did on “Louder”, an SVT through some Marshall. Also I used some Sans Amp.
What was the significance behind the sequencing?
NL: I was excited because it was going to be on vinyl, and I took that into consideration. I took a lot of time thinking about the flips between sides. London Calling is one of my favorite records, and that’s a double record, and listening to the record is different because you have to get up and flip it. This is like 4 perfect EPs if you think about it. That’s why I thought so much about it. We always knew how we wanted the record to start with “So Occult” and “Kelly” and we knew “Patagonia” was an obvious ender. So that was good basis for sequencing. From there it was just linking the songs and thinking about what would go good where. I really wanted to put a lot of thought into it. I wanted it to be a formula and I wanted it to work out, and it did and I’m really stoked on it. It got easier because there were some natural links on the album.
How was the mixing process? Did you have any idea of what you wanted the album to sound like?
NR: We mixed the record at the Hangar in Sacramento with our good friend/engineer Robert Cheek (he also recorded the drums there). Mixing is always crazy for us. There’s a lot happening in the mix, like 40 plus tracks deep. Robert is so close with the band that he is basically another member in the studio. We’re not trying to sound like anything. We just want to sound like us, and Robert gets that. We used up every last second of mix time that we booked. I think we were in the studio until something like 7 AM on that last day.
JC: Mixing was interesting because it was several months after we’d started tracking and had gone on two little mini tours in the time that had transpired. The songs had become so lush and layered and we wanted to make sure as many of the details as possible were in there own little space to create the whole sound.
We’d take a song and then each of us would go through and kind of tweak the sound of what we wanted then find a balance we all liked. The final day of it was a 24-hour marathon to get it and the songs that ended up on the “Zoo Weather EP” all finished up.
RC: Having worked on the previous 2 records before Patagonian my thoughts were that I knew the band was going to take it to the next level. Nick had been describing the songs to me for months and I was excited. When we worked on the ‘Complex’ split the band explained to me that the vocals were sort of a precursor to the future material where they wanted the vocals to be a prominent feature in the music. I’m at an early stage in my career as a producer/engineer and I know that they tour a lot so I wanted the album to really sound great and unique for my sake and theirs.
Now that it is all said and done, is there anything you would change about the album?
NR: There’s nothing I can imagine changing about it. I love every second of it. I think it takes a band a handful of years/records to finally get 100% stoked on what they are doing. This was it for me. Now I’m completely comfortable with what we can do and super excited to see where we go with it. I guess the only thing that would have been cool to change would be making “Another Surf” longer, and therefore a bigger “fuck you.”
JC: Aside from the normal kind of “Fuck, I could have played that better” which I think is all but inevitable for most people, I think all of us are very happy and satisfied with the way this album turned out. I think it was the perfect next step in the evolution of Tera Melos.
PH: I am definitely proud of myself and all the dudes involved with the making of the record. It was nice because everyone realized that we all have these different tastes but that we ultimately have to come together. Sometimes people have egos and sometimes people are to stubborn to actually work with the other people but I think everyone on this project kept their egos at bay just let the record be whatever it was going to be.
RC: I listened to it recently and the only thing I would have done differently is dip a little bit more of the high-mids in the guitars. Nick really wanted a new guitar sound for this record and I’m super happy with what him and Patrick got with the Marshall 800 but when I listen to the record now I feel like the guitars become a little fatiguing on the ears after a while. It’s a neat effect for making the record sound super loud and in your face but after a few songs I think its a little taxing. All and all though I’m very proud of it and I think the music is great.
NL: Looking back on it. I’m pretty happy on it, still to this point. Usually when you record or are mixing you wish you could have played something differently. But not with this album and that’s why we did it the way we did. We recorded it in our friend’s bedroom so we could take our time. It still feels like a new record to me. So far there’s nothing that I wish I had done differently. I’m really happy with the record, I’m happy with it representing where we were at that point in time.
by Bobby Marko (of Native)
Last week eternal T.E. homie Blake Gillespie wrote a piece over at Impose Magazine titled ‘New New York: the false prophecy’. If you didn’t read it, in short, Blake claimed that the early 2012 hype of NY Hip-Hop was ill-deserved given the output of last year. However, as Blake pointed out, the potential saving grace was Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire’s ‘Kimset’ mixtape. Today, we get to jam ‘Kimset’ for the first time. And while I don’t completely agree with Blake aforementioned article, I do agree that ‘Kimset’ is a behemoth of a release. Stream / Download below.
And while on the topic of eXquire, be sure to check out this interview-esque video we shot a week back on a roof overlooking the Manhattan skyline.
“In an editorial I wrote recently on the status of the New New York scene, I noted Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire possibly one of the few MCs who could render my thesis of “no classic albums” void, but it would take time. It felt important to leave his career arc up to question for two reasons. One: He’s only two, possibly three songs deep in his major label debut after inking the deal in 2012. Two: He’d recently begun discussing his music in a manner that suggests he cares not only about his craft, but how the public perceives it. He denounces the Power & Passion EP as pandering to his peers inability to maintain their identity, sacrificed to the radio hit, and as you’ll see from our Rooftop Interview, he did not arrive at this sobering conclusion alone.
When we set up the interview with Terroreyes.tv and Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, we requested that he bring passages that have recently inspired him. He’s gone on record of having Malcolm X and Huey Newton speeches in his headphones, but he caught us with a curve when he quoted E.B. White’s Here Is New York essay, referring to him as “the dude who wrote Charlotte’s Web”, and opened a copy of George Lois’ Damn Good Advice (For People With Creative Talent). It’s not that we never expected him to quote old white men (he’s got a mixtape named after a Philip K. Dick novel). We were just pleasantly surprised to by those old white men in particular. With his Kismet mixtape dropping tomorrow, we’ll soon hear if eXquire is back in prime form after the stumble. It is our first opportunity to find out if the devil’s advocate lost.” -Blake Gillespie (Impose Magazine)
I was originally introduced to Weekend Money last year when they dropped their Greedhead released debut LP ‘NAKED CITY’ and finally got to catch them live a few months back when the duo opened for Antwon at Santos Party House. About 2 songs into their set I knew I had to shoot something with them. The following is the culmination of about one solid month of filming shows, studio footage, recording sessions, interviews, etc… Enjoy!
Stream / Download “Demons” below: