Music — February 9, 2018 12:20 — 0 Comments

It’s time for the new Allen Stone record! – Trevor Larkin

Hi, everybody. My name’s Trevor Larkin, and I play guitar in Allen Stone’s band. I’m also a solo artist, co-host the Not Famous Podcast and write everyday via my email newsletter, the Mind of a Trevor. Below is the first of three installments from the studio. Enjoy!

This time around, we’re posting up at the historic Sound Emporium in Nashville, TN. It’s my favorite studio in town – the Sound Emporium feels like an audiophile’s rustic cabin retreat, complete with coffee-ringed, well-thumbed editions of Sound on Sound, pleasantly worn leather couches and an ornate wooden throne. Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson recently made Grammy-winning albums here, and the burgundy walls are lined with platinum records from Nashville music royalty. The coffee’s strong, smiles are plentiful, and no one bats an eye at our ill-fitting track suits (gotta be comfy when making a record, people!). Martin’s BBQ is right next-door, and the sweet, meaty aroma instantly transforms us into a drooling fools.

The band’s all here, and has been right from the album’s conception. We’ve been through the trenches together – tire blowouts in Redding, food poisoning in Paris, narrowly avoiding a military coup in Istanbul, being defecated on by Balinese monkeys, not to mention countless exuberant sing-alongs and sweaty encores the world over – and it’s a joy knowing these new jams will showcase the chemistry we’ve built over the past seven years. In the past, Allen’s made records largely with outside producers and writers. Band guys might show up here and there and contribute a riff or chord progression, but our job’s mostly been building the live show and re-arranging songs for the stage. For this record, about half the songs are band co-writes, the product of overly-caffeinated writing retreats at Allen’s secluded cabin in Eastern Washington. We’ll also be re-imagining tunes by Theo Katzman and Joey Dosik from Vulfpeck, as well as collaborating with the mad scientist himself, producer Jamie Lidell.

Jamie’s a legendary maniac, equal parts Hunter S. Thompson and Harry Potter. Suavely bespectacled but otherwise disheveled, he looks every bit the Southern British artsy-fartsy type. Eddie Spear, our chief engineer, is also English, but from the rough-and-ready North – Leeds specifically. He’s more reserved, with his genius subtly betrayed by tailored tweed trousers and a bone-dry wit. Their dynamic’s already amazing, with Jamie bursting at the seems with cockamamy production ideas (what if we run the drum mic through a garden hose?!) and Eddie furiously jotting down notes on a beleaguered yellow pad, interjecting barely audible yet pointed sarcasm while suggesting equally brilliant and unorthodox recording techniques. I’m in heaven.

The fine folks at the Hutton Hotel are putting the band up for the next ten days, but the Sound Emporium’s giant “A” room is home. It’s an inspiring space, artfully illuminated by hanging and string lights, with numerous Big Lebowski-worthy rugs tying the room together. There’s enough space to record an orchestra and, customarily, bands take advantage by spreading out and chucking amps, drums etc. into separate, isolated rooms. This way, even while tracking live, there’s perfect separation and you can perform a little surgery on takes if need be. We’ve decided to jump without a safety net and set up right next to each other, just like a rehearsal. Nothing’s isolated. There’s no click track. No headphones, even. Just us, playing live in the room, happy accidents and all. Everything’s amped, including drum machines and various studio gizmos that light up and go blip-bloop in satisfying, alien ways. Allen’s having so much fun singing without headphones – when the dude’s in the zone, he’s a true force of nature. More on this in installment two.

By the end of the first day, we’ve tracked four songs. It’ll be all about capturing vibe and spontaneity, not over-analyzing into paralysis. It’s full-tilt boogie time in other words, Go, Go, Go. We’re all dancing during playbacks in the control room, happy, while Eddie Spears bobs his head in time with the music and Jamie Lidell, eyes closed, conducts flamboyantly with an invisible baton. I think we’re really onto something.

Bio:

Trevor Larkin is a Nashville-based writer, podcaster and musician.

Leave a Reply

The answer isn't poetry, but rather language

- Richard Kenney