“We really only have imaginary spaces – the ones you dream about your favorite albums being recorded in. Our practice space is a tiny windowless room that’s too hot and there’s always other music bleeding into it.We’ve been lucky to fall into opportunities to make records in special places. Edison, the studio we recorded Money in, is as close to the dream as we’ve gotten and now it’s gone… another casualty of “proper” music biz failings. So between the making of records we imagine what it would be like to be able to actually record and make music in a place that’s designed properly for making music.
Edison was on the mezzanine of the Edison Hotel in Times Square. The entrance and lobby of the hotel is a time warp. They play old recordings of radio broadcasts from the ’40s and ’50s jazz and World War II news bulletins. We were only ever there in the late night/early morning hours so the only people there were the night watchmen, drunk tourists and the guy who vacuums the carpet. The space itself was completely separated from the rest of the city, dim and quiet and wonderful.
The instruments and equipment are what a “recorded version” of a song becomes – so in our case the more instruments, the better. We want as many keyboards and drums and percussion as you can fit. A piano is nice, an organ with a Leslie – I want to go somewhere that has timpani. We’ll always bring our own instruments too. When we were making Money I went out and bought an Indian banjo because there was one track that needed something special. I just got bunch of game calls from Cabela’s in December. At Edison we used a board previously used by Heart and mic pre-amps ripped out the board from Abbey Road that The Beatles used.
The most important things for us to have here is quiet, space, maybe a good board, microphones and ideas.
We often work alone but it’s also nice to have people to have to explain ideas to… once you have to explain an idea (whether with words or musically) it often gets better. On my way to work and walking around the city I think of words and how they would fit together in a song. When I sit at home and play the guitar or keyboard or sax or mess around on the computer I try to remember the good parts that happen. When we rehearse we play these ideas for each other and place the best parts in the right places and they usually turn into songs. The “creative process” in general is always changing… I’m trying to write more things down these days because I worry either that I won’t remember the idea or I’ll never have time to do anything with the idea. So at least by writing it down you have a nice little piece of idea that anyone could look at and imagine.
“Recording” equipment is not all that important really. I used to try to accumulate recording equipment for recording at home, but unless you have buckets of money, all the things you can buy at Guitar Center don’t add up to what the music should sound like. Most of the new samplers and synths and drum machines and computer programs and so on are all trying to emulate some form of popular music that’s been popular and people desire it – so despite all the connotations guitars
and pianos and saxophones have – I often feel better about what comes out the other end because there’s no presets or pre-designed format or structure or whatever…
I think we’ve been spoiled by being given the opportunity to record in places that are made for recording music; places that were designed back when the idea was just to get the sound of people playing music in a room recorded as realistic as possible. Don’t get me wrong though, I love special FX and I love computers and gadgets and new tech everything! I just got a drum machine on my ipod, which in theory, is dope, but the presets are terrible! But those things have come in and out – I still play the same guitar I’ve had since I was 12. I have a mixer and a mic I got in high school. I have a Rhodes Piano and a Saxophone that were given to me by families who just wanted to know they would be played. We’ll use whatever recording thing is in a room, but I can usually wait to go somewhere where there’s no radiator screaming and clanking and the room is designed so that the music you play will go into the microphone in the best way possible.
And there’s no studio in the world as good as this imaginary one!”
US four-piece Skeleton$ hail from Ohio and are based in New York. Their fourth album, Money, was released in 2008 on Tomlab and its predecessor Lucas was described by Pitchfork as “an outsize global-a-go-go mélange of unceasing polyrhythms, Afrobeat guitars, free jazz, and Timbaland’s approach to kitchen-sink percussion”. They play Whelan’s next Thursday, March 12th, supported by Spook of the Thirteenth Lock. Tickets cost €12 plus booking fee and are available from WAV, City Discs, Ticketmaster and http://www.tickets.ie. For more information and details of upcoming live shows, visit www.myspace.com/skeletonsandthegirlfacedboys.
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