Sunday, December 19, 2010

Interview: J Perry of The Deloreans

On the new album American Craze, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and playing with dolls

John: Hi JP! thanx for talking to me tonight..
 Perry: Sure, JK
 John: so, The Deloreans just announced the release date of the 2nd LP "American Craze" (1.18.11, pre-order now at how long have you been working on it?
 Perry: The cumulative time wasn't all that much. But because of schedules, we spent around 10 months from when the first sound was recorded until the mixes were sent to Carl Saff, our mastering engineer. About a 6 month or so improvement over our 1st album.
 John:  when was your first LP, Love Outrageous, released?Perry: June 27th, 2009. The first sounds of that LP were recorded in December of 2007.
John: wow, so you guys are getting quicker in the studio.. I know you largely took over the controls recording American Craze, was that the same for Love O?
 Perry: For Love Outrageous, drum tracks for 10 songs were recorded @ Downtown Recording on 4th Street, here in Louisville. The drum tracks for "Ooo... Ahh..." and "Why Don't You Say" were recorded by me at this warehouse at the Swan and Kentucky intersection, in Germantown. We really loved that place: a huge open warehouse that seemed to go on for miles. And despite that fact that recording at the warehouse cost zero $$$, my favorite drum sound on the first album is from "Ooo... Ahhh..!" I had a microphone about 100 feet from drum the kit - we did that for a few takes and stacked those takes over top each other. We got an amazingly huge drum sound and an awesome natural reverb from the space. We rehearsed there for a bit as well. Anyway, the rest of the music was recorded by me in an apartment on Maryland Ave. in the Highlands that I lived at at the time.

Now, Downtown Recording, owned by Nick Stevens, has some of the finest gear around.  They have Neve 'Melbourne' console with a dozen pres I think that is amazing.  THey also have an amazing sounding 'live room' as well.  Despite that, I wanted to record this entire album on my own.  Not to save $$$ though.  It doesn't sound very intuitive at first but I wanted to record everything myself to learn more about song writing.  Some bands, not knocking this approach to be sure, but some some bands would certainly prefer to go into a studio and concentrate solely on performing the music that they have worked out over time - it keep their mind of gear-related things and such complications.  They can concentrate on getting the performances right and not have to worry about which mic to use on the kick drum and where to put it and how to tune the resonant head and the batter head and not have to worry about the nuts and bolts (read: insanity inducing) of mixing their tracks.  I totally understand that approach.  Engineering takes decades to master and to be able to do quickly.
But for me, I wanted to, as I said, use engineering as a way to learn more about songwriting and production.
 For example, sticking with the kick drum, the key of a song might dictate to what pitch the drum is tuned to.  Say a given track requires to kick to be tuned to an A note.  Well, that might inform how to bass guitar part should be arranged - or vice versa.  If it 's a song that requires some kind of tight sounding low-end, than this relationship between kick and bass guitar might require some treatment.  And that helps me in the arrangement/production process.  If a song needs this - I do that.  I didn't know about these things (very rudimentary actually) until I tried to record everything myself.  It won't necessarily help me to write better songs or to help someone I'm working to write better songs, but it will help me make sure that I have viable options when it comes to getting things across the best way.
 John :I do most of my recording myself, honestly because i never have any $, and because i normally don't have a set band behind me.. but yes, it is insanity inducing for sure. on those rare occasions that i can waltz into a studio with a band, i feel much better.. i can concentrate on the music and not spend 4 hours chasing down some buzz, or wonder why my vocals sound like shit..
Perry:  Hah.  I love that stuff!  Loren, our other guitar player loves this stuff as well.  We were pretty obsessed with the book "Recording The Beatles" while were tracking and mixing the album.  But seriously, it really seems like every time I solve one of those annoying little problems, I learn something about arranging or production - kind of hard to describe I guess.  Not for everybody though for sure.
 John: Love Outrageous blew up fairly quickly.. WFPK still plays it fairly regularly, and Attacked By A Panther was a local hit! and i heard that this was your first band. that's quite an accomplishment..

 Perry:  Well, I had some other very brief projects before, but nothing that resulted in an official release.  Other than those brief indierock things, I mainly have concentrated on classical music.  Studied that in college.
But, yes, the first album seemed to take off for us.  "Take off" by our standards anyway!We worked on it pretty hard. Quietly put it out. Got a few write ups. Sent it to WFPK and over the next little while we had sold enough albums to pay for this new album. $$$ certainly is not our goal but it's nice to be able to sustain the project without having to rob some people. I think this good fortune is the result of our musical ecosystem in Louisville. It goes to show how important things like independant radio and independent record stores and venues are (Since that is a current issue - ear xtacy struggling, skull alley closing, local music not thriving right now etc.) Take away, WFPK and ear x-tacy and we might not be putting out an new album at all.
John: oh, i know what you mean, i'd say 75% of Louisville Is For Lovers albums are sold at Ear X-tacy.. and without WFPK, most peeps wouldn't even know they were being released.
so, what do you have planned, or hope to do once American Craze is released? translation=what is next for 4 THE DELOREANS?
(just had to put in that little line from the 'interviews from around the world")
Perry: Well, we are going to continue to write and record the finest music we can regardless. We're going to be true to our vision of how we like things. We're going to be ourselves - as it seems that the only success one will have in anything is simply being oneself. It the hardest and easiest thing to do. We also going to spread ourselves around the region with some shows this Spring and Summer. Shows are probably our favorite thing. We've done some out-of-town stuff but we are looking forward to much more. But honestly, anything more than writing music that we love to listen to is icing.
John: speaking of "interviews from around the world", i've watched the first 2 about a dozen times each.. despite not mentioning the new album much, they do seem to give insight into the band dynamic. you guys seem to really enjoy working together..
 what other projects are you and the other band members working on in between Deloreans projects?

 Perry: Meg, our drummer, when she's not playing or recording for us or wearing sunglasses with her hoodie on and chewing gum in Kamchatka, is a busy working drummer. Of course she's the permanent drummer for the great louisville group Squeezebot and she picks up other one-off jobs all the time upinnis bitch.      I enjoy working in a production capacity with other artists/groups - though I'm only beginning to scratch the surface of this in Louisville.  I'm not so much interested in engineering (the actual process of tracking or recording instrument parts.)  I'm more interested in communication of ideas through sound.  I love working with other bands/artists on songwriting and arrangement ideas - getting their ideas across in an interesting way.  I'm musically attracted to unique personalities and sounds more than anything else.  There's some stuff in the pipeline that I am working on with folks now that you will hear about this next year.  Though this this will be tough and limited with the busy schedule The Deloreans are currently planning.  John: so, the name of the album is American Craze, and you guys put a song on the Louisville Is For Lovers Anniversary album by the same name.. is this song gonna be included on the LP, and does it give us some insight on what this album will sound like?    
 Perry:  Good question.  Yes, that song is on the album.  But it's not called "American Craze" now.  And it's a different mix and a totally different, more ambitious vocal take.  It's name is different now as well.  But when the time came, the album was finished and it was like 'what are we going to call this thing,' we had a few different titles we were bouncing around.  Some of the titles were just things we thought sounded cool like "Delorious."  "Musk" was another contender.  Some titles were just lines from the songs etc.  But then, like some people outside of the group started saying that we should call it "American Craze."  Like several totally unconnected, independent parties suggested this.  We didn't really have a choice at that point.  But then we had this problem that we loved the title but we didn't want to put any undue pressure on the actual song "American Craze."  So we retitled it to "Gatsby."  And that makes more sense actually for that song because I wrote it about the fictional character Jay Gatsby from F. Scott Fitzgerald's great book, "The Great Gatsby."  It's not so obvious from the lyrics - but once you knowt he subject matter the lyrics are more endearing I think.  It's the first track on the record.  A slow-brewing song where the vocals get more dramatic and the arrangement gets bigger toward the end.  There is also a thematic theme lyrically throughout the record that references America, places and such.  But the connection to the Gatsby character is I think something that seeped into my unconscious throughout the writing of some of the songs.  Not just in the song "Gatsby" and not just this album but the first and other things I've done as well.  This sort of romantic impulse for something greater.  Something grandiose.  Somewhere else.  Or maybe here.  Indescribable.  Our album cover, an ornate scene but with a hint of depth, was shot by John Rott, louisville photographer, in the Seelbach Hotel - a place with a roaring 20s feel.  Loren found out randomly that the first paper dolls (or something like that) were made in the 20s.  So he made 'paper dolls' for us.  They are included as inserts in the vinyl only of "American Craze."  There's little 'cutouts' of the band members and some other objects as well.  We're going to have a contest actually!  When you buy the vinyl album, you cut out the pictures and create a funny scene and then send in the pic.  The funniest scene wins a giftcard of like $50 to ear xtacy.  2nd place wins a vinyl 'test pressing' of our album.  Third palce I don't know what it is yet - maybe a six-pack of 'Leviathan' beer.  But to answer your question about the title giving insight into what this album is about, I'd say perhaps is does a little bit hint at some things.  I think it is just a natural progression for us from our first album.  All the ideas were expanded upon, you know - we'll do the same thing on the third.  But in a lot of ways, we were more ambitious on this album.  I especially wanted more substance than our first album.  But don't think now that we have a bunch of sappy, inspirational arena, ballad anthems.  Fuck that.  The lyrics are like we always do: still playful - something I wanted to keep that makes us us.  But this time the lyrics also have more depth.  As far as the music...  There's more choirs.  A song just voice and orchestra that is six minutes long (yea, strings....  standard on your 2nd album, heh).  A song called "Leviathan" that will kick your ass with a two-minute guitar solo!  But more importantly, we wanted to learn more about music from all angles and especially to have better songs and better recordings and wanted to try and be more us.  We're extraordinarily happy with it.
  Johnha ha, i like 'Delorious', but i think American Craze might actually do great job of setting the stage for your sound and a simi-thematic tone of past american decadence. and I love the paper Doll idea, and contest..  I love when bands find ways to let their audience interact with the band. I'll be sure to grab a vinyl copy to see these dolls. and please share with us some of your favorite contest submissions. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with me about your forthcoming album, and everything else you guys are doing!  

Perry:  "Decadence" I like the sound of...  Thanks a million!
JohnYou Got it!                                                                             

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