26 July 2010

Alive As You Are is out in the UK

And that calls for a few words on the record, how we made it, and on the product we're flooding the marketplace with, o informed consumer.

The LP bears a AAA code on the back (and when I say LP, I'm talking vinyl). You used to see these codes on CD's back in the 80's and 90's. It was designed to tell you how the CD was recorded (first letter), mixed (second letter) and mastered (third letter). For instance, AAD would mean a record was recorded analog, mixed analog, and mastered digitally (of course if it's on CD, it's digital and therefore the third letter would always be D). But those codes more or less vanished by the turn of the century. Fast forward to present times, when every band and their grandmother presses vinyl and touts it as the ultimate listening experience. In our neighborhood alone, two record stores have opened in the last year or two that only sell new vinyl. It's poppin' off. Except there's one caveat. If you recorded your album digitally, then it's meant to be listened to digitally (although someone on some message board somewhere might argue that this point is arguable). Once you go digital, it's always digital, and regardless of if it's on vinyl or not, your brain will be fed discrete little bits of data that sounds a lot like music instead of the continuous sound that is music. This vinyl revival hasn't been accompanied by renewed use of SPARS codes (as it's called; although it was never intended for LP's in the first place), so we usually don't know how these records were actually recorded, mixed and mastered; but I reckon that at least 95% of that new, shrink-wrapped $18 vinyl was recorded on a computer. Which means, at least in these eyes, your money might be better spent on the CD. But maybe you have a DJ night, and it's important to you to spin vinyl, who knows.

Anyway. Back to the AAA on the Alive As You Are LP. What this means is that we recorded the whole thing onto tape, mixed it onto another tape, and took that to Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Sound, whose very special needle etched grooves into what is now the vinyl platter you can hold in your hand (or, simply, he mastered it). Without any digitalia in the way, what comes out of your speakers is essentially a direct transfer of energy from us to you. All vibration and impulses. A more human listening experience. When we thought about our favorite records and what kind of record we wanted to make, we realized the common thread is they were pretty much all made this way. And here we are.

Why doesn't everybody do it like this? Well, it's easier to do every step of the process digitally, it's cheaper, it's more forgiving, you can "fix" mistakes and poor performances, studios are set up that way, people can't really tell the difference... and the list goes on and on. Digital production is insanely compelling, and it takes a lot of practice and discipline to lay it down, warts and voice cracks and all, on tape.

So yeah. After we were done tracking at Hyde Street in SF, we packed up and went an hour north to Prairie Sun, in Sonoma County and mixed for the next 10 days. It was our engineer Drew, our producer Nick, and us all crammed in this fishbowl of a control room around a mixing board turning knobs and moving sliders. Which is not textbook mixing, by the way, and was tense and not fun more often than not. But it worked - we mixed it on our own the way we wanted to do it, onto tape, and that is what's on the record.

The CD's different. When we turned the record in to our label, they said "hey, some of these mixes sound wack, let's have a professional remix em." So we transferred all the tapes onto a hard drive and got a guy named Jason Lader to mix it over a couple weekends at Rick Rubin's house in the hills on the days Kid Rock wasn't there, and I'm pretty sure he broke into it, because he made it out like we weren't supposed to be there and swore us to secrecy (oops). Since these mixes were bound for the CD (and iTunes/etc), to hell with all that analog self-righteousness; song by song, we picked the better mix, and five of his mixes are on the digital version.

All that said, what's so very nice is that when you buy the vinyl, you get a download code. Which gets you the digital version too. Best of both worlds. So there. If your neighborhood general store doesn't have it, you can order it here or here, or if you want to drop some Sterling on the CD here.

*** note: if you can't find the vinyl in the UK, order it from Dangerbird and they'll ship it straightaway ***

23 July 2010

live through this

And now, selections from the remainder of the film from Ye Olde Britannia Tour, circa June 2010. Relive the summer fun:

on the Irish Sea


North Sea. You'd think we spent the whole tour at the beach.

Bob & Laura. They've since eloped.

on Dean's farm, Leighton Buzzard

Band of Horses, Wolverhampton

tour photo. Featuring our most gracious hostess Elaine, and the Brothers Lynch (far right).

photos by will

20 July 2010

six more days on the road

We're bringing our fruitful professional relationship with Band of Horses stateside in September, where you can see us and them and even Admiral Radley on the same stage. Which fulfills of our years-long dream of playing both of California's fabled Greek Theaters on one tour. So fabled Huell Howser's probably visited em. Teddy Roosevelt did (the Berkeley one), that's for sure. So did the Dalai Lama. And soon, us:

September 24. Berkeley. Greek Theatre
September 25. L.A. Greek Theatre
September 27. Las Vegas. The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel
September 28. Salt Lake City. In The Venue
September 29. Denver. Fillmore Auditorium

13 July 2010

Alive Comes Alive!

After our old Roswell Record Release Party-With-An-Alien failed to catch on with the financiers, and months and months of subsequent careful consideration of highly competitive bids from several world-class venues, we have decided to celebrate the release of Alive As You Are with a LIVE performance at the following:

Tuesday, August 17. L.A. Bootleg Theater (with Wounded Lion)
Thursday, August 19. S.F. The Independent (with Sonny & The Sunsets)

These should be pretty enjoyable. The Bootleg is on Beverly Blvd, across from Brooklyn Bagel, which is the only place to get a fresh bagel in this godforsaken town, and there's free parking behind Praise Christian Church, which proves that this town is not godforsaken after all. The Independent is on Divis, in local parlance, and is where we had our last record release show, which was capped off by Jared taking a pie in the face, what fun. Both of these shows will be 21+, on account of adult content.

There will also be an in-store performance at a record store in each locale, if you're on a budget and/or 14 years old. Details forthcoming.

a lame metaphor? where? is it over here?

11 July 2010

light flight


this was at like 10:30 p.m.

it's tough being the support band

seafaring, more or less

Irish Sea

Little John's buried here

the farm, Leighton Buzzard


Young Mick, Young Bono, Young Keith Moon, Young Sting, Fat John Martyn and 2/5 of Darker My Love have all rinsed their hands and dried them off on their trousers here.

photos by will