How We Made Our Record is a feature on Radio Free Silver Lake. Each week we interview bands about the different aspects of how an album comes together: generating creative ideas, writing, financing and production (recording, engineering mastering). We talk about the creative side of choosing a studio, a producer, a sound, and sounding good with limited resources. Many of our readers--musicians, recording engineers, and music fans--wanted to know the back story of how albums are made. We return this week with The Damselles & The TC4. Three sassy singers and four guys to back them, The Damselles & The TC4 don’t walk so much as strut onto a stage like a wall of sound, choreographed dance moves and outfits on point. Today vamping more Pam Grier than Ronnie Spector, The Damselles & The TC4 drop their new album, Know How To Party (Otik Records) with all the explosive fission of an atom bomb. -K.P.
By The Damselles &
Photos by Sterling Andrews
What was the creative concept, or a point of departure for the album when you started? Did you have a unifying concept or just start writing songs? When did you write the songs: before you went into the studio, or did the tracks come together as you recorded?
The concept revolved around how many times we can get away with saying "Hey" on the songs. Most of the band had written songs specifically for the group and once we had enough material for a full-length record, we decided to go record. The songs were pretty much 100% done when we went in. It only took us two days to track all the songs. Lickety split.
(side note - a FREE download to the person that can tell us how many times we say "Hey" on the album. )
Production & Engineering
How did you choose your studio, producer, and engineer? Where did you record and what is the space like? Did you work with outside people or produce it yourselves? How did you make it sound good with the resources you had?
We chose to have a producer this time because seven opinions is a lot of opinions. We chose our friend Paul Smith to produce because he was unbiased and wanted to do something he had never done before. He was genuinely very excited to jump on board. Most of the band members have engineering and recording backgrounds, so we wanted (or NEEDED) someone we could all trust and Paul was our guy. We recorded it at Comp-Ny Studios in Glendale. Like we said, it took two days to track all the instruments and two days to do vocals, all live for the most part. The horns were done in one day as well. We didn't want to labor over the whole process. Except to replace all the drums with sequencers and to auto tune the vocals...Actually, it's all robots playing. We just posed for the cover photo. (The front cover photo / album art is by Sterling Andrews, by the way)
When it came to mixing, we ran out of money. Paul then offered to let us listen to mixes in his apartment and give notes. Most of his postproduction work was done either in his living room or with Joe Napolitano in his home studio. Pasta was made. Bagels were served.
How was recording? What kinds of obstacles and conflicts came up, and how did you overcome them? What made this experience unique?
Someone once referred to us as the Vietnam War of the new girls group era. The reference was pertaining to our style of music. However, it's fair to say our different work ethics and close friendships definitely mirror being in the trenches. Perhaps it's not a coincidence that we are "dropping" the album on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. (Actually, it is a coincidence.....)
We financed this whole operation by ourselves. We worked our butts off playing shows and saving money until we had enough to pay for both a producer and a studio. We did this for the last EP and financed all of our music videos and merchandise that way as well. It's a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, booze and tears, but the pay off is worth it when you know you did it all on your own. What doesn't kill you.....Yada, yada.
What have you planned for releasing and promoting the album? Will you be touring? When/where? Have you licensed any tracks? How can we hear the album?
This particular record will be released digitally worldwide on August 6th. We plan to make a very small run of CD's as well. Why such a small run? Who needs another CD coaster? Also, the cassette manufacturers were all booked up and our dads stopped bootlegging 8 tracks in the 70's. Honestly, we just want as many people to hear this record as possible and having it available via every digital retailer makes it easy to share with anyone, anytime. By the way, here's a link to download the album - http://thedamselles.bandcamp.com
We only license to shows that use The Who for their theme song.... (cough, cough, CSI...)
Words of Wisdom
What did you learn from this that will influence how you will make the next album? Is there anything you learned that you would pass along to another band that’s about to record an album?
If you want to be in a band with 3 hard headed women, 3 stubborn men and a bass player who "likes to sing", you better be ready to put on your thickest layer of skin under your pink dresses and black suits. Don't be afraid of a good disagreement. You might get some killer tunes out of it, as long as you "Know How To Party" when the day is done.