Last September, Temperance League released its debut LP: a concise little collection of two-minute scorchers that split the difference between power-pop, bar-rock, and Springsteen-meets-Strummer rabble-rouser anthems. This fall, the Charlotte rockers aim to release another. As part of our new series on local bands' album-making processes, we caught up with vocalist Bruce Hazel and guitarist (and "band co-pilot," as Hazel puts it) Shawn Lynch to talk about their studio time - and the light-speed turnaround on this new release.
Bruce Hazel: It was a pretty simple decision. It was almost immediately after the release of the last LP. We had new songs that we wanted to record. We started recording back in February and we finished it up this past weekend. Hopefully between mixing and record pressing we will have it available by September.
Shawn Lynch: Also, why not? Most bands only make one album, then either break up or wait two to three years to make another one. We had the songs, so we might as well make another LP. That's what we're best at - playing shows and making records.
You've been a band for a while, yet the first LP came out just last year, and now this one's close on the heels. Did you have to get over a first-album hurdle, or is there a different reason for the long prep to album one, followed by a new one just the next year?
SL: Well, we've always been writing and recording, but nothing we put down had that certain "spark" or "punch" we were looking for. When we went in and cut five songs at Mitch Easter's Fidelitorium in Kernersville, N.C., though, that changed. We put out our first 45 in the spring of '11, then went back in February '12 with a few new songs, put out another 45, then did more recording in April '12 to finish up the LP we released back in September. In a way, making that first album gave us a working template that was fun and productive, so as soon as we were done, it was like "Great! That's done, when do we get to start the next one?" Which of course we did this February and just finished up this past weekend
So what's the songwriting process like?
BH: Songwriting for me is like Glengarry Glen Ross... A, B, W: always be writing. I enjoy the work and the process of it. I try to maintain a regular schedule and a routine like a job or exercise, almost daily. Never stop writing and then hopefully you never face a block. But that is not to say that it always leads to something useable or good - that is rare. But throw enough darts and eventually you will hit the bullseye. I try to bring in ideas to the guys that I think we as a unit can shape into something great. So far, I'm very proud of what we have done together.
Could you talk about what people can expect from the new record? Does it depart from or build upon what was on the self-titled? And why do you go to Fidelitorium? What is it about Mitch's studio?
BH: I'm very excited for people to hear the new record. It's titled Rock & Roll Dreams. It continues to build upon the last release. But we have grown and become extremely comfortable working with Mitch Easter. We have tapped into something special at Fidelitorium. On this latest offering we have fine-tuned our sound while expanding our production horizons. We have worked constantly over the past few years to develop our craft and Mitch understands exactly what we are going after and how to achieve it.
SL: Basically, the Fidelitorium is the best studio around. The vibe that Mitch has created is just so comfortable and conducive to playing the best that you can. His studio manner is very laid back and he's always accommodating and encouraging. Pretty much any sound you would want to create or emulate form the rock and roll history books can be realized there - thanks to the incredible assortment of instruments and recording gear. Also, Mitch is one of the funniest people I know, so whenever we aren't laying down a track, we're all laughing our asses off, so that's a big plus.
BH: Shawn's answer is the greatest answer ever given! So True!
You know, it almost sounds like you make records there as an excuse to hang out with Mitch...
BH: You got it!
How important is that kind of vibe to getting good takes of your songs? Is there a difference in the end result between a session in an uncomfortable studio and one like Mitch's?
BH: I think the vibe may be the most important thing in the recording process. We spend a good bit of time and money working in other studios with other engineers and producers never to get anything we were happy with.
SL: Recording is a great excuse to hang out with Mitch to be sure, but his expertise and experience is what it's really all about. He's recorded all types of music there, but he's really great at understanding what we're aiming for, and helping us realize it with the most minimal amount of fuss.
What's next in the process? Since this series aims to pull back the curtain a bit on the record-making process, can you tell me what the next steps you'll be taking are? How much is left to be done before this record is out?
SL: Well, the recording part is finished, that was four days in the studio. Then I'm going back at the end of July for three days to mix the 11 songs with Mitch. After that, it's just getting the cover together and saving/raising the money to get the LP pressed. Hopefully that means it'll be out either at the end of September or early October.