Feature: Alter The Press! Studio Report - O'Brother - 'Garden Window'
Title: 'Garden Window'
Label: Favourite Gentlemen Recordings
Studio: Favourite Gentlemen Studios (Atlanta, Georgia)
Date Due: March/April 2011
The first 'Studio Report' sees ATP! catching up with Atlanta, GA experimental rockers O'Brother.
Having spent much of 2010 on the road with the likes of Circa Survive, The Felix Culpa, and Biffy Clyro, the five-piece recently entered the studio to work with Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull and Robert McDowell to work on their first full-length, and the follow up to their 2008 release 'The Death of Day'.
Guitarist Tanner Merritt spoke to Alter The Press to give us an update on the recording of new record titled 'Garden Window', working with Hull and McDowell, the bands musical progression and more.
Alter The Press!: How is the album coming along?
Tanner Merritt: It's going really well, although it seems like its going very slowly. We've hardly gotten our feet wet in the tracking and we're already having to go back and re-do things. It is a frustrating thing (sometimes) but it's the only way to ensure we get everything done exactly how we want it. Also, that is the beauty of us doing it at the Favourite Gentlemen studio because we have virtually as much studio time as we need to get it done right.
ATP: You're working with Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull and Robert McDowell. Why did you decide to work with them and what are they bringing to O'Brother?
TM: Working with Andy and Robert has been great thus far. I think the main reason we decided to work with them, is the fact that they understand what we're trying to accomplish. We didn't want to work with a producer that was going to try and change the vision of this record, and they get that. Andy and Robert have great ideas and have worked with some great producers and are able to bring all those things they've learned to the table. But most importantly they appreciate the music we create and are there to help us bring it to fruition.
ATP: From your recent studio video, you seem to be taking a more experiment approach. Is this right?
TM: Well yes and no. It's not so much that we're intentionally taking a more experimental approach (experimentation has always been a key element of O'Brother.) We just have a better idea this time of how to get what we want.
Studio Video Update Number 1.
ATP: How has the band progressed musically from 'The Death Of Day'?
TM: They're are so many ways (i'll try and keep this as concise as possible). "The Death of Day" was comprised of the first 5 songs we had written as a band. We didn't really know how to write together. The progression to this point is predominately in the songwriting. As with everything else in the band, we had to figure out what our individual roles were and use those to the fullest. In addition touring changes you. You think about things in terms of live songs and album songs, and start trying to make your record more eclectic from song to song rather than within songs. Which is the case with 'Garden Window'.
ATP: Are there any particular bands/artists or records that are influencing or inspiring you during the recording process?
TM: The albums we've been listening to are all over the place, however the album is all over the place as well. It's just a matter of piecing it together. But some artists/albums are: Blonde Redhead, Oceansize ('Self Preserved While the Bodies Float Up'), Sufjan Stevens ('The Age of Adz'), Harvey Milk, lots of Film scores (Clint Mansell's 'The Fountain', Hans Zimmer 'Inception'), Sunn, Boris and always a lot of Radiohead, Mew and Team Sleep.
ATP: You've spent the last 12 months touring more or less non-stop. How has this affected the band and your songwriting?
TM: Touring makes you an all around better band. Better musicians, better songwriters, more patient people. We've had the privilege of opening for some great bands this year (Manchester Orchestra, Thrice, Circa Survive, Biffy Clyro, The Dear Hunter) that have taught us so much. It seems like every band we toured with kind of took us under their wing and really helped us along.
ATP: Could you tell us the process of how an O'Brother song comes togther? Do work collectively or does each band add their part bit by bit?
TM: It seems like every song we write is more and more a collaborative effort. With the 'Death of Day' I usually had a song pretty much finished and everyone wrote parts to it (which is never what I wanted). But writing this record has been so much more rewarding. I can see everyone's hand in it and I've been truly happy/impressed with what everyone has brought in.
Studio Video Update Number 2.
ATP: You've set up a website, beneathyourgardenwindow.com, to keep fans up-to-date with the recording progress. Who's idea was this and how has it affected the recording process?
TM: When we first started talking about how we wanted to do this record, I suggested we have a website that goes along with it and we all sat down and started brainstorming. We wanted to offer friends/fans the opportunity to follow the complete process of making the record. The idea of watching this project blossom and come to life coincides thematically with concepts from the record. Also, the average music listener never gets to see this side of recording (especially from an independent band with little to no funding). Then Michael our drummer went to work designing the website.
ATP: Do you think it's becoming increasingly important to involve fans when you're in the studio?
TM: I think it's becoming more and more important to involve fans in anything you do. The music industry is changing faster and more drastically as time goes on. The people who listen to a band are the only thing allowing them to keep going. When that ends, your career ends. We want people to feel as attached to this as we are, and hopefully they in some way can feel a part of it.
ATP: You've been in the studio for nearly two weeks now. How would describe the overall sound of 'Garden Window' so far?
TM: Eclectic. We have such diverse tastes and influences, that we obviously want to explore all facets of our sound. There are songs that are the loudest/most aggressive songs we've ever written, side by side with the quietest most patient things we've written. It sounds real. We never want an album that sounds too polished and not like a real band. I think we're finding a good balance in that.
ATP: When can we expect the finished product?
TM: Hopefully March or April 2011.
ATP: Can we expect to see O'Brother on the road in the new year? If so any plans to cross the Atlantic?
TM: Yes, once the album is done we'll continue our 2010 regiment of touring and touring until our friends, girlfriends, & mothers forget our names.
ATP: Is there anything final you'd like to say?
TM: Thank you for following this process and we really hope we don't let everyone down.
Further information on O'Brother and 'Garden Window' can be found on beneathyourgardenwindow.com
O'Brother on Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.