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Interview: My Disco

Rav had an interweb chat with My Disco's Ben Andrews about recording his band's latest album, Little Joy, with legendary record maker, Steve Albini; getting your improv on in the studio; and naming an album after a shitty LA bar.

Did it take you boys a long time to record your new album, Little Joy? All of the instruments sound really meticulously recorded.

Not really. We spent four days of initial tracking with Albini (Steve. If you don't know who that is, you have no fucking business reading this) in Chicago and then we were on tour for a bit and then we came back and did about eight days in Sydney like doing vocals and mixing so longer than we've ever spent before but I guess in the grand scheme of things and bands in studios it was still only two weeks max. I reckon if you can't get something good in two weeks then you're doing something wrong.

For sure. What was recording with a producer Albini like?

He's not a producer per say, he kinda cringes at that word. He's more like an engineer in the classic sense like he'll get the songs down as you play them in the best possible way but also the quickest and most natural possible setting. There are definitely no frills with him.

But at the same time he'll pull this amazing drum sound in half an hour and you'll be like, 'Sweet, let's go,' and he gives you the confidence to kinda do what you're there for, which is play the songs and concentrate on your music rather than going, 'Oh do you think the guitar sounds any good?'

So he doesn't fuck around, just sticks the mic's where they've gotta go and get's done with it?

Yeah and that's the way I like to work as well. I hate having to listen to some dude hit a snare drum for 10 hours until he gets that right because by the time of that your ears are fucked and you couldn't be bothered and you're tired. So I like working fast. But at the same time having said that we kind of wanted to take a different approach to mixing and spend a bit longer on it and that's why we came back to Australia and did it with Scott Horscroft at BJB (Big Jesus Burger Studios) in Sydney. We just thought we've worked with him before on a single so let's have the best of both worlds ' a traditional engineer and then a producer sort of vibe. So yeah it was fun and it worked out in our advantage, I think.

How were you guys feeling when you went into record, especially in terms of comparison to how it felt to record your previous records?

It was a lot more relaxed and was a 'Whatever happens in the studio, as long as the vibe's right, is us,' kind of thing. We didn't stress or meticulously rehearse over the songs. We just kind of had them roughly done, 'cos there's a fair bit of improvised stuff on the record and we didn't want to over think it and make it boring for us. So, we just left a lot to chance, and on the way (to the States) I thought, 'Are we a but under prepared,' but it was just about getting the right level of song down and getting the right vibe. Some takes we'd do and they'd be completely different to other takes and that was just kind of the beauty of the album because the fact that they're not songs that are set in stone, you know. They're not songs that you either got it right or you didn't it was more about the feel of each take.

Yeah, the improvisation really comes through a lot on the record, did you guys find that you were coming into the recording with any influences in the back of your mind or were you just coming from that organic place where you were just going into the studio and just playing and seeing what comes out?

I think we knew that we wanted to do it a bit differently especially as we were only tracking with Steve. We were all excited about that idea especially having months between sessions, where we could sit on the record and listen to it at home or wherever and think about what we wanted. And then it also helped because we did vocals in Sydney, so it gave Liam (Andrews: bass/vocals/brother of Ben) a bit more time to come up with different vocal ideas and even a lot of that was down to some of the improvised stuff that he did when we did the tracking because we put a bunch of cool effects on the vocals.

That kind of played a big part in some of the layering and some of the more droney elements in certain songs where there isn't so much vocal part but more layering almost as if we used a drone synth or something. So yeah, it all kind of happened pretty organically and naturally in the studio which I think is the most exciting about it and now while playing it live we're just kind of reworking how to play it in the live setting .

What would you say is your favourite track on the record?

I really like how the song 'With Age' turned out because that turned into a... We had that song as a completely different song and then when we recorded it again, it's got this real depth to it that both of us (Liam and Ben) filled in with the guitar section that I'm really happy with and I really love the drums on it. You know it's kind of tight and clinical but at the same time has this warmth to it. And then I like some of the more expansive songs that surprise me when I listen back and go, 'Oh that's what we did?' like 'Rivers'.

So, where does the name from the album come from?

It's actually the name of a bar that we like to go to in Los Angeles. It's this kind of seedy, Hispanic kind of hole in the wall bar in Echo Park and it's called Lil' Joy, as in the way we write the abbreviated version on the album. And that was the first port of call where we got off the plane before we recorded anything or whatever. We just kind of went there, had a night off and had a few drinks and were like, 'This is the beginning of a cool adventure' or whatever, so it kind of has this starting place point of view. It's kind of developed into this kind of double meaning where you can see it as 'Little Joy' where, as we draw 'little joy' from this in the pessimistic [sense] or you can look in the glass half full perspective, where it's like a 'little joy' like something small and amazing. It's kind of cool the more after the time I think about it the more things I draw from it.

This marks album number three for the band. Where do you see yourselves in terms of your career or your lifespan as My Disco? Is this something that's still coming really naturally? Because, in my opinion, just through what I've been reading of late about the band and expectations for the album, it feels like Little Joy is going to be a high point for the band. You seem to be getting a lot more attention and interest.

Yeah, definitely. Bands are always evolving whether they're around for six months or 20 years and it's like that for us. Yeah, in some ways we're just hitting our stride now even though we've been a band for seven years or so, and that's kind of exciting because these things take time. We've only just kind of achieved goals that I've been working on for the band for the entire lifespan of it ' international releases and international tours and that kind of thing ' and I see these projects as kind of life long works, and things like that take a lot of time and effort. And we're happy to be in for the long haul, really.

You're doing the hard yards around oz for the album tour, but only one show per town, are the dates you've announced just the initial tour dates and are you guys planning to get round a lot more in the summer.

I don't know, it's about as extensive as we can go. We're still doing regional if you include like Geelong and Newcastle and I include Canberra as regional as these days. I think we're doing Hobart, Perth Freemantle and so 10 or 11 shows all in places that we've been and enjoy going to over the years. Yeah we'll probably do another run next year once the vinyl comes out but it's kind of cool to do a block of a tour that you can put it all up on a poster and get it done before Christmas, because then around December or January there's so much shit going on festivals, it's hard to compete with that kind of stuff so it's good to get a tour in before the bulk of that stuff happens.

What are plans in terms of post the record release? Are you guys gonna burn through Aus for a while and then tackle overseas again?

Yeah we're doing a weekend in NZ in February and then at the moment we've got tentative plans to go to Japan in Feb, an then we're planning a US tour for May/June and then a European tour for September. So I think 2011 will be pretty fun.

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Comments

god is dead

where do i get the vinyl?

1 decade ago

holc

New Zealand in February... Hell yes CALH

1 decade ago

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