Last summer we recorded an album.
We decided to get out of town and track a few songs in New Ulm, MN. We knew the owner/engineer of 27 Years Studio through a friend and we went all in. The idea was to get away from the hustle and hassle of our everyday lives. So we opted for weekend road trips and the opportunity for the band to record in a legitimate studio.
First, I’d like to say something about audio engineers. These are the people who are sitting behind the console, turning the knobs, setting up the microphones and who – at the end of the day – have the ability, if not responsibility, to assess a musician’s performance in the moment. An engineer can encourage a stronger take or a more unique performance in the studio. They recognize the artist’s vision and they bring their own esthetic. It’s a balance. A good audio engineer understands this balance. Lantz, the owner/engineer of 27 Years Studio, understands this balance. Lantz helped us define and clarify our ideas for the songs on this album. He also howled with us on the beginning of Ragtag Rag. It was truly a memorable experience through and through.
27 Years Studio is in the basement of an old mansion in New Ulm. The house is full of hand carved and unique objects. It could be a museum of the bizarre. We brought our gear in through the cellar doors before each session. Drums and saxophones were tracked in the room where Dutch Hartel, a previous owner of the house, shot himself with a shotgun. There was a mystique about the house and the journey from the Twin Cities held a certain air of adventure. As a band, we tried to hold onto the sacredness of the moment. Each session held its own energy. The house, the trips, the engineer guy, the musicians I get to make music with, everything came together to make the whole process of recording Hotdish Army an unforgettable experience.
I took six trips down to New Ulm and we spent seven days in the studio. On the first trek, I went down with Corey and Shane. We recorded acoustic guitars, bass, keys/synths, looped drums and scratch vocals for all seven songs. It was important for us on this first trip to explore New Ulm a bit. So we went down to the main street and checked out all 3 bars, August Schell’s on tap, of course. Dave made the next trip down. He recorded electric guitars. I will never forget stepping outside with Dave for some fresh air to find that he had a flat tire. Talk about a damper to a day of recording. Hey, he changed the flat and tracked all of his guitar parts, all in a day’s work. Beau made the next voyage and recorded all of the live drum tracks. He was the most professional of us all, like he’s done this before or something. Then Drew made the jaunt all the way from Madison to record saxophones on five songs. Drew was our everyday sax player until he moved to Madison in the fall of ’15. For me, to have him come out and be a part of this album was icing on the cake, a perfect storm and it’s always an honor to be able to collaborate with him. Liz and I then made the drive to New Ulm at dusk, sun sliding under rolling hills. We recorded the bulk of the vocals that weekend in the cool cellar of the old mansion. I made one more trip with Liz, Corey and Dave and we finished tracking all of the vocals. The last element completed was for, Conrad, a New Ulm native and good friend, to lay down cello on three tracks. The last cello swell was tracked three months after Corey, Shane and I made the first trip to New Ulm and we laid down the first chords in 27 Years Studio.
Listen here: kingfishcrow.bandcamp.com
“Before this distinguished assembly and the world, the bells today proclaim the joyous tidings of the completion of this quietly soaring tower.” – Earl Warren