Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
We were very honored last night to be able to play with 3 bands who we respect as musicians and as people (with the possible exception of a certain female Rush-loving shit talking bassist) and end our 4 days of rock and roll with a joyous celebration.
Our thanks to the bands we played with over the last few days and the venues that welcomed us. Most importantly we sincerely appreciate all of you who came out to see us play. A special shout out goes to our Long Beach friends who surprised us by coming out last night. Thank you all very much. Love, SD
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Sunday was one of those long days, a day where each section seemed elongated and stretched out like silly putty. It gets thinner and thinner and holes begin to form and the light shines through and then finally when just a few strands remain connected, time gets wadded back up into a ball only to be pulled apart again. The morning seemed to take forever, waiting on us all to get our shit together and packed into our Volvo 240 wagon. We were blessed enough to be borrowing gear from Highway Patrol allowing us to all go in one car.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday Jan 23rd, 2010.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. With a full day of recording ahead of us, we chose Nick’s on North Spring Street. Todd, S Foye and I go over the incidentals of the upcoming session as well as the surprising fact that Florida is chalk full of bald eagles and jaguars.
After we head over to Bedrock Studios in Echo Park where KamranV, who runs Spaceland Recordings, has just opened a brand new recording space and Summer Darling is to be the inaugural session. The best part: it’s all for charity! Bedrock has donated the room and their gear to us for the day so that we can track “Mexican Food,” our song for the upcoming 826LA Benefit Compilation, proving that we too, are not above some charity from time to time.
The room is spacious with a Moroccan flair, reminding us of NRG in the valley. All sorts of toys are ours to use and abuse along with very expensive mics and pres and an HD Pro Tools rig. Todd picks out a DW drumkit while I fool around with my new distortion pedal, the Holy Fire by Creation Audio Labs. It takes a while to debug the system, but Kamran, S Foye, and Tim, the assistant engineer, take it all in stride. The biggest challenge stems from the fact that there stands a gi-normous radio tower pumping Echo Park and Silver Lake with Christian Mexican Radio across the street from Bedrock. So occasionally the amps, guitars, pedals, or mics pick up the signal, proliferating some Dios y Jesus all over the track.
Once we sort through these types of issues, Todd is ready to track. We had done the scratch vocals and guitar to a click track the day before. Upon hearing it in his headphones and playing along, Todd felt the first half of the song was too slow. We bumped the section up about 15BPM and left the back section at the original tempo. Because of the song’s structure, the ploy works remarkably well. With a few minor overdubs, Todd finishes and I head in to do my part. Playing out of my own rig (63 Fender Bandmaster, Wren And Cuff Fuck Off Boost Pedal, and the Holy Fire pedal), the recording goes smoothly enough, and the torch is passed to Dan.
Dan plays through a 15 watt Gibson Les Paul Junior, but soon discards it as the tone isn’t what he was looking for. He fools around with a solid state Fender Twin before ultimately deciding on a Fender Tone Master head and a 4 X 10 Marshal cabinet. Meanwhile Heather has been fooling around with an Ampeg flip top tube bass amp. Originally we think the tone sounds like garbage because of the amp, before realizing, nope, it’s our janky ass bass guitar that was shitting out sour tone. Kamran raids the vaults of his studio and returns with a Gibson Thunderbird bass, which we throw straight through S Foye’s tube preamp. Both Dan and Heather’s parts combine to give the song serious balls. We ran out of time to do vocals, since we had to get to our show in Long Beach at the Basement.
The Basement is real cool club. We’d never played there, but it has a decent sound system headed up by Brian Smith, the ubiquitous Long Beach sound man. Swear to god, this guys has done sound at nearly every one of our recent Long Beach shows no matter where we’ve played. The gig went swimmingly, we were surrounded by friends and well-wishers, the DJ was actually playing awesome music in between songs, and there was plenty of laughter. Heather and I spent our three am drive home from the show reflecting on how much we love our life. The feeling after a good show is one of triumphant euphoria and easily outweighs the feeling after a bad show. The trick is to remember that fact when you’ve just played a bad show, but it’s a trick I’m starting to get better at!
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
I must admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment. Heather and I were in Madison, WI until last monday night and then her mom came to visit Wednesday and left yesterday. Today we begin a whirlwind weekend of amazing Summer Darling activities. We have rehearsal and pre-production for the 826LA benefit recording tonight. The recording begins Saturday. Saturday night we play Long Beach. Sunday night finds us in San Francisco. Monday night we're back in the studio. Tuesday night we're at Spaceland. And then Kissing Cousins play Wednesday night at Echo Curio. Finally, on Thursday the 28th, we head into the studio to master the new record! And all the while we'll be working shifts at our day jobs whenever we can squeeze them in!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
So much goes into being a successful band. One important thing I've learned that contributes to success and all around bad-assery, I learned from people like Josiah from Light FM. I've seen Light FM a handful of times. They have the hard-to-come-by ability to combine massive guitars and hooky melodies. But I probably would not have seen them the amount of times I have if not for Josiah.
The departure of Kara from Kissing Cousins last month left a vacancy that needed to be filled. While Heather considered finding another flutist, she instead decided to use this change as an opportunity to shift the band's direction into new territory. Enter Amanda. She plays guitar and sings, adding a whole new level of bombast and swagger to the all girl group. Chain Letter conducted a brief introductory interview with Amanda to better get to know the newest member of Kissing Cousins.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Monday, January 11, 2010
I’m currently 31,000 feet in the air experiencing some mild turbulence and trying to write a blog that can adequately explain why after 30 years I’m no longer sure I believe in the existence of God. To be fair, if I had to make a choice at this very moment, I would say I believe there is a God. An atheist friend of mine and I were having a discussion about this very topic recently and his assertion was that the burden of proof falls on the believer to make the case for God. I opened my mouth to start making that case, but nothing came out. What happened to me?
From 1997 to 2004 David Bazan fronted a band called Pedro the Lion. Bazan has long been associated with the Christain faith, having released his first record on Christian label Tooth & Nail, and done extensive touring of churches and Christian festivals before transitioning into playing bars and clubs as he began to release records for Jade Tree and, most recently, Barsuk.
Upon the release of Pedro the Lion’s Whole EP in 97, I was just finishing high school. I was raised in the Christian church and my parents were pastors the majority of my life. I was your average teenage believer, meaning I believed what I did because I had very few reasons to question it. Sure I had a girlfriend break up with me because “God told her to” and I had a very close friend die in a car accident, but because I was rooted in the same belief system I had been in all my life, these circumstances seemed more like annoyances to my faith rather than deal-breakers. I remember thinking about them and not being able to come to a viable conclusion, so instead of forcing the issue, I just stopped thinking about them.
I started listening to Pedro the Lion that fall during my freshman year of college. I immediately identified with songs like “Nothing” and “Almost There” because of their fresh narrative structure. Bazan had a way of using irony and metaphor that I had never heard before from a “Christian” arstist. To say the songs challenged me to start thinking differently would be to ascribe a fictional importance to them; my questioning was coming from a different source. By the time I saw Pedro the Lion for the first time in 1998, being outside my belief structure, specifically the church I grew up in, already had me exploring the heretic nature of modern philosophy and trying to figure out why I no longer felt anything when I went to church.
It’s then that I heard Pedro the Lion’s It’s Hard To Find A Friend LP and a song called “The Secret of the Easy Yoke.” This song, whose lyrics are quite literally about the narrator's struggle to experience God within the structure of the corporate mega-church, rang true to me. I interpreted the song as a comforting lullaby for the disenfranchised church go-er who still believed in God--and that’s precisely who I was at that time. I felt encouraged, reasoning that I might be able to think critically about the world around me and the religion I grew up in while still holding fast to my belief in God.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
Turns out landing in the snow is not nearly as scary as I imagined it was! Heather and I spent the entire day yesterday traveling from Los Angeles to Madison, WI, and the final, heavily delayed landing in Milwaukee was the least interesting part. My highlight was driving west on highway 94 in a snowstorm at night when the windshield wiper of our car went flying off the windshield. With no exit for miles and the wiper hanging like a dead limb off the side of the car we debated whether or not it was a good idea to have Heather hold the wheel from the passenger seat so the driver, my good friend Josh, could unbuckle his seat belt and reach his entire body out the window into the flurry and attempt to put the wiper back into place. This plan, while not completely carried out, did not work. Luckily we were traveling behind a snow plow that was salting the road keeping us in traction and visibility until we could pull off the freeway and fix the problem.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
As it happens, this was only phase one of the kids songwriting extravaganza. 826LA has teamed up with Origami to ask bands to record the songs the kids wrote for a charity record and concert. The record will be a Vinyl/Digital release with the vinyl being limited to a 500 count pressing. Confirmed participants include Cold War Kids, Fiona Apple, Zooey Deschanel, and now, Summer Darling! That's right. We spent the better part of 4 hours last night working on our adaptation of a song called "Mexican Food." As you can imagine by the below video, it was certainly an entertaining challenge, but we're pretty sure we got a kick ass song out of it. Look forward to a Summer Darling song like you've never heard us released on this amazing compilation where all proceeds go to benefit 826LA sometime later this year!