Dan Webb and the Spiders

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All photos are courtesy

by Amanda Beland

Dan Webb and the Spiders is a four-piece rock/punk group. They’ve been playing with different iterations of members since 2009.

Front man and namesake Dan Webb answered a few questions for Spiral Bound about the band’s history and what’s next.

When and why did you start playing music?

I started playing music when I was in 7th or 8th grade. I did it because it appealed to me more than sports and it was slightly cooler than reading comics, (at the time). My first instrument was bass in a band called PROD (PunkRockOverDose) and the first songs I remember learning were Waiting Room by Fugazi, Hawaii by the Queers and D7 by the Wipers, (but we knew it because Nirvana covered it).

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Were you involved in other projects before the Spiders?

I sang and wrote songs in a hardcore-punk-kinda band called the Opposed in college. Afterward, when I first moved to Boston, I was in a post-hardcore band called inblackandwhite that I feel still holds up quite well. I also played drums in a band called The Cold Beat that eventually became Nonpareils.

When did Dan Webb and the Spiders start and how has the lineup changed since the project began?

I made the first record all by my lonesome just for kicks and then I recruited Chris Amaral, Dan Wallace and Matt Kenney to bring the songs to life for a live show. We maintained that lineup for a couple years and through the next two LP’s and the first couple tours to Europe. Marc Valois (Blinders) joined the band after Wallace left for parts unknown. We were fortunate to be able to bring Stephen Benson into the fold to play drums when Matt moved out of the picture. Finally, when a wrist injury sidelined Valois for a good chunk of time, Sean McAllister stepped in and has been playing the bass for us ever since. Mike Vera also filled in on bass for a tour before Sean’s time with us.

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What’s your discography and how has the band’s sound evolved and changed over time?

LP’s / Compilations

    2009 – S/T – Self-Released

    2010 – Oh Sure – Self-Released

    2011 – Much Obliged – Gunner Records

    2012 – Oh Sure Redux – Gunner Records

    2014 – Now It Can Be Told (Compilation) – Self-Released

    2014 – Einekleineakustischmuzik – Self-Released

    2015 – Perfect Problem – Gunner Records

(Perfect Problem tracks recorded with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio, Elio DeLuca at the Soul Shop and Marc Valois at Starlab Studios.)

EP’s / Splits

    2012 – Beach Party Split 7″ – Self-Released

    2013 – Irish Handcuffs Split 7″ – Flix Records

    2013 – Gunner Records Singles Club – Gunner Records

    2016 – Modern Saints Split 7″ – Gunner Records (upcoming)

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The sound of the material has changed a lot based on who has contributed to making it. The early records are characterized by a quick and dirty nonchalance. We often would record and mix entire 12 song LP’s over three or four days. After Much Obliged we started to break the recording sessions into smaller sessions and releases and would only tackle two or three songs in as many days. We also became more in control of our actual sound. Especially now, we are very dialed in and use a wide range of pedals to create a vaster sonic landscape. In the old days, we would just get a good sound in a few minutes before hitting record and just use that for the duration of the record. Now we practice changing tones as much as we do chords. So the newest stuff has a lot more depth and dynamics to it. I am really happy with how we’ve grown and what the band has recently coalesced into, although some critics prefer the older material.

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Touring seems to be a big thing with the band, can you talk about where you’ve been over the years?

We’ve been very fortunate to work with Gunner Records out of Bremen, Germany. They have put out many records for us and have had us over to Europe five times with a sixth trip set for March of 2016. We’ve played Berlin, Zurich, London, Antwerp, Vienna and every small German town there is. Our annual trip over there is what we work towards as a band. In the states we struggle to draw anyone, but over there we do much better. Plus tiny bands on our level are treated with care over there, so touring is much more comfortable than it is here in the states. Inside the US, we’ve only done one tour and have played a sporadic show here or there outside of Massachusetts. For instance, we have played Chicago a couple times and even made it out to Portland, Oregon once.

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What’s next for the band? Are you recording any new songs?

We are planning a split 7″ with a great band from Germany called Modern Saints. That split is timed to be released when we return to Germany for a 17 date tour in March 2016. Half of the tour will have Modern Saints as support and the other half will feature our dear friends, Irish Handcuffs. We also have another eight songs already recorded that we may release on our own as an EP. We are always working on new material as well and hope to get another batch of songs recorded when we get back from tour. We find it’s best to stay busy because bands, like all things, are super fragile. The period of time where all four of us run in tandem could be well shorter than we realize, so best to make the most of the time we have.

 

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Bellwire (part two)

(if you missed part one)

by Amanda Beland

On Aug. 21, Bellwire, a 4-piece power pop band from Somerville, walked into Medford’s the Soul Shop with instruments and arrangements. Over the next four days, Guitarist/vocalist Tyler Burdwood, bassist Jack Holland, guitarist Michael Holland and drummer Matt Freake (Oaks Brine) tracked four new songs with help from engineer and producer Elio DeLuca (Titus Andronicus, Wilder Maker, Bent Shapes). This was Bellwire‘s third time recording at the Shop. The most recent trip was in May of this year where the band – with drummer Andy Fordyce – recorded four songs and a spoken poem, including the band’s newest single Time Out.

Bellwire and DeLuca spent Friday night deep in pre-production: sorting out arrangements and choosing the desired sounding amplifiers and instruments for each song. On Saturday, the band tracked all four songs live to 16-track tape. The band played all together, all at once in the Shop’s custom-built live room. On Sunday, background vocalists provided their ranges to “Grace Stay” and “Dreamin'” while legendary pedalsteel guitar player Jonnee Earthquake provided soothing sounds to all four tracks. Brothers Michael and Jack Holland also recorded bass and guitar overdubs and Burdwood laid down his lead vocals for all four tracks. The band returned on Monday afternoon to finish overdubs on all the tracks. Bellwire and DeLuca have plans to mix the tracks in mid-October once DeLuca returns from a national headlining tour with Titus Andronicus.

Over 600 photos were taken from Friday until Sunday; what you see here is just a snippet of the recording process. All photos were taken with an iPhone and processed with Snapseed. No filters were used on any of these photos, unlike in part one where each picture was processed and edited with VSCOcam. Close to 3gb of audio was taken over the course of the same time period using a Tascam mini recorder. Audio will be edited and released as an audio documentary later this month.

Each morning, drummer Matt Freake provided pour over coffee for everyone in the studio. However, sound and photos of the pour over process were only taken on Saturday morning.

The Soul Shop is a special place – not only because of its palatable sparkle and vibe, but its equipment as well. The Shop was founded and built in 2007 by DeLuca and co-owner Patrick Grenham. While DeLuca took on the engineering role, Grenham began designing and building gear to not only use at the Shop, but to sell as well. The results are control and live rooms packed with custom gear. Pieces of this gear are featured heavily throughout this essay.

This post should be viewed as a photo essay documenting progress. When you hear a record, it was once pieces of the whole you’re consuming. These photos are aligned and included to show the building of a song – the decision making, the struggles, the successes, the passage of time and the layering of elements.

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Saturday morning began with pour over coffee and breakfast sandwiches before the band began tracking.

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Sunday was dedicated almost entirely to vocals (lead and background) and instrument overdubs, including pedal steel guitar performances on all four songs by Jonnee Earthquake

Katie Von Schleicher

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In close to a decade, Katie Von Schleicher has grown from never having even heard the Beatles to writing, producing, recording and playing every instrument on an 8-track EP set to be released this fall. This is her story.

by Amanda Beland

Katie Von Schleicher is a Brooklyn-based vocalist, pianist and musician.

Schleicher, of Pasadena, Maryland, didn’t grow up in a musical family: there weren’t records playing in the house and her parents didn’t put a particular emphasis on music in daily life. She did take piano and violin lessons briefly and sang in theater productions. When it came time to apply to colleges, however, Schleicher decided she wanted to go to Berklee College of Music in Boston.

“I wanted to go to Berklee because I liked some of the musicians who had gone there,” said Schleicher. “I didn’t listen to the Beatles or Neil Young or albums at all really until I got to college and I got there being like ‘I’m gonna be a songwriter and I’m gonna make pop music.'”

Schleicher continued.

“A lot of the time I just listened to albums. I tried to learn what the hell was going on,” said Schleicher. “It was really late. I think a lot of people went to Berklee and were like, ‘I know what I wanna do’ and I was like, ‘I have a fantasy idea of what I wanna do.'”

I think a lot of people went to Berklee and were like ‘I know what I wanna do’ and I was like, ‘I have a fantasy idea of what I wanna do’

During the first week of her freshman year, Schleicher met Stephen Konrads, another freshman also from Maryland. The two clicked instantly. Konrads grew up in a musical family and played piano and sang from the time he was a child. He eventually joined a band and through him, Schleicher began expanding her social and musical circles.

“That’s when I realized I needed to be cooler and download lots of illegal music and hear Led Zeppelin for the first time,” said Schleicher.

That’s when I realized I needed to be cooler and download lots of illegal music and hear Led Zeppelin for the first time

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Berklee introduced Schleicher to new people and possibilities, but it also made her start to question a lot of things, including herself. Schleicher said her inability to “fit in” with the Berklee style of education combined with a lack of solid mentorship made it difficult for her to find confidence in her songwriting and musical abilities.

“For the first time in my entire life, I was trying to be cool,” said Schleicher. “The music I was making was so trapped between Andrew Lloyd Webber and trying to be cool that it really fucking missed the mark. I made an EP by myself and just threw it away when I was done with it. I still haven’t heard it. I got to college wearing Abercrombie and being chunky with blonde hair and just really confused. I think I grew up a lot when I was in Sleepy Very Sleepy, which was after college.”

For the first time in my entire life, I was trying to be cool … I got to college wearing Abercrombie and being chunky with blonde hair and just really confused

Schleicher and Konrads remained close throughout college. Schleicher stayed in Boston after graduating in 2009. Konrads had a practice space at the old Starlab Studios building in Union Square and him and Schleicher would spend countless hours hanging out and trying to write songs there. A mutual friend suggested the two of them start a band. Konrads brought in bassist Wayne Whittaker and drummer Harrison Seiler, whom currently play with Konrads in his current project Eternals, and Sleepy Very Sleepy was formed.

Schleicher and Konrads continued to write songs together. Eventually the band recorded a full length EP “Unlimited Circulation”, which was recorded and mixed at the Soul Shop in Medford with help from engineer and friend Elio DeLuca.

For Schleicher, the pressure and insecurity she felt in college continued under the surface in the new project.

“We were trying to do intensely amazing things,” said Schleicher. “You know, you’re sitting in a practice room just throwing out ideas … the fabled Paul McCartney and John Lennon quote, ‘Let’s write a swimming pool,’ let’s make money – let’s do something insane – let’s make this the best song ever. And the mix of me and Steve was just like ‘Let’s give ourselves a migraine trying to write a song.’ I remember just sitting in Starlab all the time by myself just banging my head against the wall trying to write something amazing. It was so much pressure. I mean that sticks with me today – when it’s hard just to not like really amp it up before you try and work on something.”

‘Let’s write a swimming pool,’ let’s make money – let’s do something insane – let’s make this the best song ever

Unlimited Circulation” was released in May 2011.

“I really owe a lot to Steve, just helping to support me but also when we were in Sleepy Very Sleepy, me trying to write better shit because his songs were so good.”

I really owe a lot to Steve, just helping to support me

Around this same time period, Schleicher began working with another Boston-based band called Boy Without God. Soul Shop engineer Elio DeLuca brought her in to sing background vocals for the band’s 2011 release God Bless the Hunger.

Boy Without God’s frontman Gabriel Birnbaum eventually asked Schleicher to come on tour with the band in 2011.

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photo by gabriel birnbaum

“Gabe’s stuff was totally different than what I was doing,” said Schleicher. “Up until that point, I hated – I mean it’s still tough – being this emotional songwriter. I felt like it made me a worst musician … that I wasn’t calculating, you know? And Gabe’s stuff was really both. It’s more fearless: he’s made songs where I’m just like “Really? You think that’s going to work out?” and he’s like “Yeah let’s do it.” So that kind of fearlessness made me feel a lot more open.”

That kind of fearlessness made me feel a lot more open

When Schleicher got back from the Boy Without God tour, she decided to move from Boston to New York.

“I think I wanted the experience. It seemed easier – like if I go to New York, I’ll be in a band already and then I’ll have some kind of identity. I didn’t want to live in NY, I didn’t like NY, but I was like ‘I guess I gotta try.'”

As soon as Schleicher moved to New York, she stopped writing music. She continued to play with Boy Without God, which would eventually be renamed as Wilder Maker, and bartended for rent money.

“It was a dark time,” said Schleicher. “I have this typewriter and I was carrying it out the window and climbing onto the roof and writing out there whenever it was warm enough to do so. I was writing lyrics … well I guess they became lyrics … but I was writing poetry that wasn’t super concrete emotional stuff… just because I needed an outlet. I was more inspired by a lot of things that I was reading and for the first time, I really felt open with words.”

I have this typewriter and I was carrying it out the window and climbing onto the roof and writing out there whenever it was warm enough to do so

After six months, Schleicher began writing and arranging what would become her first solo release.

“The six months off was the best thing I’ve done so far because after that, I wrote my solo record,” said Schleicher. “That was the only thing I ever felt like I could really stand behind as a musician. I’d say it’s the first thing I felt comfortable with – really late in the game – at age 26.”

That was the only thing I ever felt like I can really stand behind as a musician. I’d say it’s the first thing I felt comfortable with

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“Personally, I find it really hard to believe in anything and I can be such a devaluer of things,” said Schleicher. “The whole record concept was – when I was writing poems and when I decided I was trying to write lyrics – I took this bent of What if I had God in my life? What if i had belief in my life? What if I wrote songs to God? There’s a song called “You On My Mind” and one of the lyrics is Wouldn’t it be lonely without you on my mind? It all sounds like love songs, but all the songs are about God. It helped me have an angle and it made me feel like I could write warm, conversational songs. I wanted to make something that was simple to listen to; not hard, just enjoyable, like Tonight’s the Night by Neil Young. You just put that on, make some spaghetti and you’re good. Even if it’s deep, you can just listen to it, make some spaghetti and feel okay about everything.”

But you can just listen to it, make some spaghetti and feel okay about everything

photo by gabriel birnbaum

Schleicher wrote and arranged eight tracks for the record. She headed into the Soul Shop in August 2012 with what she describes as “my favorite musicians” for three days of tracking and mixing.

“It was an exercise,” said Schleicher. “I took the songs in and taught them to everybody on the first day and we just recorded them all live in the room. The Soul Shop was the place to do it. Of course it helps to have someone like Elio when I can be kind of vulnerable about what I’m working on. I sent him the ideas of what I wanted to do, not the songs, and I was just like ‘Here’s what I’m thinking’ and he was like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this.’ As soon as I wrote that Elio email and got the response, I felt like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this’  I think also the immediacy of it was really nice – it was nice to not have this grandiose dream of what the record was going to be like. I just wanted it to be simple and defined and those parameters helped a lot.”

The Soul Shop was the place to do it. Of course it helps to have someone like Elio when I can be kind of vulnerable about what I’m working on. I sent him the ideas of what I wanted to do, not the songs, and I was just like ‘Here’s what I’m thinking’ and he was like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this.’ As soon as I wrote that Elio email and got the response I felt like ‘Fuck yeah, let’s do this’

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photo by elio deluca

The record originally had seven songs. Schleicher had an eighth track “Wilkes-Barre” which she wrote partially about how her grandparents met. She went into the Shop unsure if she even liked the song.

“I think that song is probably the best song I’ve ever written because it’s honest,” said Schleicher. “It’s a song I wrote on guitar with two chords and then went to the piano and was like ‘Can you make a song more complicated afterward?” I just came up with all the harmonies after the fact. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted it on the record and Elio was like ‘Are you kidding – this is the best song.” So, it’s funny how that works. That’s why you need Elio around because otherwise that song would just never exist.”

I think that song is probably the best song I’ve ever written because it’s honest

Before heading into the studio – Schleicher and Birnbaum had booked and planned a three month tour of the U.S. with Wilder Maker. Right after recording concluded – the two, current Wilder Maker drummer Sean Mullins and a former bassist set out in a van.

“The tour was pretty intense, it definitely improved my musicianship in terms of playing songs and shows – but I think the tour was less about music and more about what it’s like to try and play music. It was very humbling.”

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The tour ended close to Christmas time. Schleicher went home for the holidays before heading back to Brooklyn in the new year. She continued bartending, began playing sporadic solo shows in the city, performing and recording regularly with Wilder Maker and working a couple days a week at the New York record label Ba Da Bing records.

Schleicher said recording at the label has helped her realize and learn a lot about music and the industry surrounding it.

“You know, people don’t respond to your emails,” said Schleicher. “Working there helped me to realize that it’s not personal and that it’s not predictable. It just takes focus and persistence.”

Sometime last year, Schleicher started renting a practice space and recording her entire writing sessions, some of which would last over 90 minutes long. Her hope was to find out what worked and what didn’t by listening to her music after the fact instead of analyzing in the moment.

“The new methodology allowed me to find songs that would have slipped out otherwise,” said Schleicher. “I’m finally listening to The Pixies, to The Breeders… I’m really catching up slowly to music, still learning. I knew I wanted to make heavier stuff. I wanted to make weirder stuff. So recording those sessions to tape made me realize that these writing sessions sounded good. The songs, when you play them the first time around, sound better when I’m making up lyrics – using dummy lyrics.”

The new methodology allowed me to find songs that would have slipped out otherwise

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“When you’re writing something, you’re just singing absent-mindedly. Sometimes, those are the most honest lyrics,” said Schleicher. “I would completely forget them if I didn’t have these writing sessions recorded. So, I was driving in my car listening to my own songwriting sessions on a daily basis.”

Schleicher eventually picked eight tracks and decided to release a cassette EP. Once she had the lyrics, she arranged and recorded herself on a four track tape machine playing every instrument on the record – except on two songs where her boyfriend plays drums. She mixed the record partially with DeLuca at the Soul Shop and partially in New York at Spaceman Sound.

For Schleicher, the record sounds and feels completely different than her past work. Lyrically, it’s much simpler than what she’s used to and sound-wise, it’s heavier. Although she said she feels less enthused about the content of the record’s lyrics, she feels content with the sounds.

“Sometimes I find it really hard because I want to do something different,” said Schleicher. “What Steve does is very Steve and what Gabe does is very Gabe.  I think in a lot of ways it’s a struggle to get close to what it is I’m trying to do; to read my own mind.”

I think in a lot of ways it’s a struggle to get close to what it is I’m trying to do; to read my own mind

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photo by gabriel birnbaum

Scheicher is currently working at Ba Da Bing, who will release her EP once it’s been mastered. Schleicher said the record’s been mixed since February of this year, but she’s been waiting to get it mastered and to release it.

“I’m just afraid,  I think. it’s so unbecoming, but it’s just really honest,” said Schleicher. “I think I’m afraid of no one hearing it. I’m afraid of putting it out and not taking advantage of at least getting one blog to write about it. I’m afraid of putting it out and not booking a release show. I’m scared of booking shows. It’s very simple stuff, but it needs to happen … it will happen … it’s just waiting for this magical clarity of ‘Oh it’s a great time.'”

I’m just afraid, I think. It’s so unbecoming, but it’s just really honest

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photo by gabriel birnbaum

When I try to be quiet, to make my mind really quiet … and there’s this darkness, there always appears some thought about music

“I have made more attempts than anyone I know not to continue,” said Schleicher. “I have been extremely vulnerable the entire time.  I think in a world where I can devalue every single aspect of what I’m doing or what other people are doing, somehow music is the thing that sticks around. When I try to be quiet, to make my mind really quiet, and there’s this darkness … there always appears some thought about music. It’s also the best drug; to play music is the best drug. Wilder Maker has saved my ass on a regular basis. I’m finally in a situation where I see what can develop over time: personal band chemistry, camaraderie, musical chemistry on stage. We’ve had times where crowds go wild and it’s just worth it; everything is worth it in that moment. For my own music, why I continue is that it’s just a thought that stays in my mind no matter how hard I try to push it out. And I think I’m becoming better at just doing this and not expecting money or not expecting anyone to listen.”

Schleicher’s new EP is expected to be released this fall. She’s currently playing shows around New York with Wilder Maker and the Ben Seretan Group. Check her out on Facebook and Bandcamp. Also check out her work with Wilder Maker on Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp and on their website.

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Peter Matthew Bauer

by Amanda Beland

Peter Matthew Bauer doesn’t want to be known as a side man.

“I hope it’s like – Neil Young was in Rick James’ band and no one really thinks about that,” said Bauer. “That’d be the ideal way of thinking – I don’t know if that’s the case – I’m not saying I’m Neil Young; what I’m saying is that I’d hope that they’d be Rick James.”

Bauer is the former bassist and organist for The Walkmen.

He’s been working solo since last year after The Walkmen went on an indefinite hiatus.

Although he just finished up an East Coast living tour – including a show in Medford, Mass. – he has no plans of slowing down on his solo journey.

“In The Walkmen, when we decided to break up it was like a pretty freaky, cataclysmic moment because it’s like how do you make a living? I’ve got a family you know – so that was not good in that fashion,” said Bauer.

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Despite the anticipated hurdles of venturing out on his own, Bauer never questioned his connection to music.

“I mean, it’s just a die-hard, survival, like can’t live without it, wish you could do something else, but you can’t do anything else, like if you don’t do it for a day you get angry or upset – it’s just like your blood, you know?” said Bauer. “You get that – gotta keep moving like entertainer thing going after a while that gets in your blood too. You’re like a carny, and there’s nothing you can really do about it. like ‘Ah – sorry kids I gotta go.’”

Bauer quickly picked up the pieces and started writing songs and arrangements by himself for the first time.

“It started out very much by myself – really by myself,” said Bauer. “It was me writing music and really trying to teach myself how to do everything, including recording by myself. I called in some friends when I finally made the record, but I was like okay – I’m doing everything – I have to find a voice to do this.”

The result was his 2014 release “Liberation” where many of the tracks document important moments in Bauer’s life – including his childhood in an Ashram in India and upstate New York.

“The first record is supposed to be about how I grew up. like when I was a kid and this kind of thing, it’s like a entrance into things,” said Bauer. “That was the idea.”

Bauer admits some of his earlier lyrics and songs were pretty critical and doused with resentment and skepticism of the culture and atmosphere he grew up in – an atmosphere he said “stays with you even when you’re not in it.”

“I was trying to figure it out as to why was I so nasty about everything,” said Bauer. “The record started out with me writing songs about making fun of Scientologists and stuff and there are songs like that on the record.”

Bauer said his lyrics eventually evolved into a higher place of perspective – but he thought it was still important for people to hear his earlier songs.

“It turned into something else that can become a little more transcendent and less like choosing sides and less like being a jerk about things – but I thought it was good to keep the kind of jerky songs on there,” said Bauer. “It’s a very real feeling, like being a skeptic is good, being open to something when you can find out ‘Alright I’m gonna believe in this – I wanna get completely beyond belief” and that’s the heart of everything. Then you get to that and you can find that sort of space there. That’s what I’m always trying to do.”

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Bauer wrote and recorded “Liberation” entirely by himself and plans to do the same on a second record, which is currently in the works. Bauer said his involvement in recording and producing was very limited when he was playing bass and organ in the Walkmen, even when they were recording at Marcata Recording, their self-founded studio and recording space.

However – despite his limited involvement with the technical aspects of recording, he said he felt dissatisfied at times with the actual sounds the band produced.

“For a long time we were recording records with engineers and producers and you’d sit there and think ‘Why is this so hard to make anything sound good, like at all, like this is just drums, bass and a guitar, why does it sound so terrible?'” said Bauer. “And you’d work with that in a recording studio. Then I realized after making this record, it’s so easy to make it sound like you want it to. It’s all just the group that makes it sound like that.”

Bauer continued.

“It’s just not hard, like if it’s up to you and it’s just you, you just do it and there’s no thought or extra time taken on it, you know?” said Bauer. “You don’t obsess over anything. you just go ahead and crash through it. It’s like knocking a hole through a wall. It’s just a more vibrant and exciting experience that way.”

After the release of “Liberation”, Bauer continued to stray from the mold of his previous project and decided to put together a series of small, living room shows across the East Coast. Unlike the large venues he was used to playing, Bauer thought intimate venues would give him a chance to actually get to know the people listening to his music.

“I like interacting with people a lot and that’s a big part of why I thought I could do this,” said Bauer. “When I was in band, I’d still like go out and kind of wander around and just hope to talk to somebody strange. Not just like stuck in a room with the same people.”

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Bauer made the call for venues at the end of 2014 and began his first tour at the end of February. One of his stops was the Soul Shop recording studio in Medford, Mass. The Soul Shop is an all analog recording studio started by musicians Elio DeLuca and Patrick Grenham in 2007 after their band Keys to the Streets of Fear recorded an album at the Walkmen’s former studio Marcata Recording.

The show was unique for many reasons, one of which being that DeLuca, the head engineer at the Shop, recorded the entire performance. Bauer said if things “sounded good” he’d release the recording.

“You know, if tonight Elio made a recording of a song and it sounded good – I’d put it out tomorrow,” said Bauer. “When we tested it earlier, I heard what he did and it sounded great – I said if you wanna mix it down right now I’d put it out right now. Like to me that’s just a much more exciting way to do things.”

(Check out official photos from the performance taken by photographer Liz McBride)

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Bauer is currently selling tickets for a West Coast living room tour and is planning/booking dates and locations for a Mid-West tour and a European tour in the late summer, early fall.

“I think you feel like you’re getting across yourself in a very specific way – it’s very kind of raw like when people say that word, I don’t really know what it means,” said Bauer. “I think it means like the good and bad of what you do is very unable to be hidden, so its kind of a funny scene.”

Bauer is also planning on recording a couple songs in April for his anticipated second record. He said he hopes that people and fans will recognize and respect him and his music as it’s own solitary project – just as a side project by a former member of The Walkmen.

“I’m a young guy, I mean it’s not like this a side project or this is the guy from The Walkmen, “ said Bauer. “it’s exhausting thinking about yourself that way. But it seems like that stuff recedes in your memory. People ask you about it and you’re like I can’t remember. It’s like a different thing – it’s just a different time and a different world.”

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For more information of Peter Matthew Bauer and to check out upcoming show dates, check out his website and Facebook. For more information on the Soul Shop, check out their website and Facebook.

the Soul Shop

by Amanda Beland

It’s the middle of summer in 2007 and Elio DeLuca and Patrick Grenham are on their knees cleaning a console with toothbrushes. The console, constructed in March 1986, is a Pisces – just like DeLuca and Grenham. Their newly acquired ‘bro’ is about to become the centerpiece for something much bigger than the basement it once hung out in, untouched for years.

“It’s happened occasionally where people have brought in records to mix off Pro Tools and they park the computer here for a couple of days and I think it makes the tape machines kinda nervous … you walk into the control room and see that big flat screen and you think ‘man, this is not the way,'” said DeLuca.

DeLuca and Grenham, both of Somerville, are co-owners of the Soul Shop, an all analog recording studio in Medford, Massachusetts. Their console, among other analog gear, make up an almost 10-year-old business with a focus on sound quality.

“Do it right the first time,” reads a review of the studio on Facebook.

DeLuca and Grenham knew each other in high school, but lost touch after graduation. They met back up and became friends during the mid-2000’s after seeing each other at various “weird noise” shows around the Boston area. Grenham also had a regular DJing gig at The Cellar in Cambridge. DeLuca eventually started bringing records to play on the nights Grenham was DJing. It was here the two started talking seriously about music and decided to start the band Keys to the Streets of Fear.

Grenham and DeLuca wanted to record live to 2-track tape for the first Keys record, but couldn’t find a place in Boston that had the capabilities (or the desire) to enable the process. That’s when the two men turned to Marcata Recording, then in Harlem NY. Marcata was started by the band the Walkmen.

“They (the Walkmen) were like, ‘well in a studio, you need a tape machine, four or five good microphones and that’s it,'” said Grenham.

“And a decent console and that’s it,” said DeLuca.

“Yeah, so they were like let’s build our own studio so we never have to pay for another studio again,” said Grenham.

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Analog vs. Digital Recording

In technical terms, the difference between analog and digital recording has to do with the distinction in signal paths and the way sound is recorded and stored. (Science!) Without inching into modern jackass territory here -almost everything done in the digital sphere can be done in the analog sphere – except it probably takes more time and more gear. Obviously in analog recording, there are no presets and nothing can be automatically applied or filtered like you can do in a digital editing program like Pro Tools.

In analog, if you want to amplify a track or add an effect, you have to physically turn a knob or press a button or adjust a setting on a real life droid. There are no drop down menus with physical hardware. Also, in digital recording, you can totally use that backspace key and undo in less than two seconds. In analog recording, you can delete something from a tape – but once you do – you can’t take it back. You have to rerecord. (Danger!)

In digital recording, you essentially have unlimited tracks – you could have 100’s of tracks of just shakers or vocals if you so dared – but in analog recording, tracks are limited based on the studio. At the Soul Shop, you have 16 tracks to fill and if you fill those 16 tracks and wanna add more stuff to a song, you gotta be creative and finagle a way to do with your resources.

The Soul Shop is an all analog recording studio simply because that’s the way DeLuca and Grenham like to work when it comes to recording. They like tubes and physically touching things – they aren’t big fans of using a mouse and a couple arrow keys to T-Pain audio tune the heck out of your voice.

“It’s because he wants to push faders on a console and run stuff through tubes and compressors or whatever,” said Grenham, talking about DeLuca. “All that kinda stuff you have to do the old fashioned way and not sit there and point click ‘mix’.”

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The Marcata studio and practice space were located in a former Nash Rambler production factory in Harlem where different parts of the cars were installed on different floors of the building and the car was moved by ramps when each floor’s work was completed. The studio was located on one of the ramps.

“The walls and ceiling were curved – nothing was parallel to anything, which is the first indicator of a good acoustic space because then you don’t get weird like being in the shower, back and forth reflections,” said DeLuca.

The guys spent three days recording at Marcata before bringing those recordings back to Massachusetts to a couple other studios in the area. However, Grenham and DeLuca couldn’t shake the Marcata feeling.

“These experiences (in Boston) were expensive and then we were like – maybe the Walkmen were right,” said Grenham.

“They were expensive and they were indicative,” said DeLuca.

“Maybe we should just stop paying other people to borrow their stuff and just buy it,” said Grenham.

We were also kind of foolish at the time, so we bought a bunch of gear,” said DeLuca.

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DeLuca and Grenham bought gear with the intention of using it to initially record live sets and then eventually, to open up their own space. In the winter of 2007, Keys had a week residency at PA’s Lounge in Somerville for this purpose.

“Sunday through Monday, we played every night of the week, different sets, one was all covers, one was all jazz tunes, one was new stuff and then we got other bands to play,” said DeLuca.

Grenham and DeLuca recorded every set of the residency.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2007, however, until the gear found a permanent home when DeLuca found the current location of the Shop in Medford.

“Luckiest I’ve ever been on Craigslist,” said DeLuca.

The building was separated into three spaces – a bridal shop in the front, a piano restoration shop owned by the landlord in the back and the space that would become the Soul Shop on the side. At first, the building’s landlord was hesitant to allow a recording studio to rent the space. After repeated attempts, he finally conceded.

“It took meeting him in person,” said Grenham.

“We all had the same weird crazy Italian vibe going around,” said DeLuca.

With the space acquired, Grenham and DeLuca began construction on the space, which was one room when construction began. Grenham has been a professional builder for years, so he brought people in to help separate out the control and live rooms, as well as to help with sound proofing.

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“That was wicked fun because I know how to build houses,” said Grenham. “Learning how to build all of the sound stuff was kind of awesome. If I was smart, I would make a lot of money doing that.”

The Shop’s live room has a couple unique aspects that aren’t immediately noticeable. First – drawing inspiration from Marcata – the walls were installed crooked on purpose. Second, none of the walls are actually touching each other.

“None of these walls are parallel – this one tilts back, they all have very little angles,” said Grenham. “You don’t notice it when you walk in, you’re not like ‘oh my God, this is a crazy house.'”

“You know, not like many degrees of an angle difference, just a tiny shimmy, just enough to make it sound the way it sounds,” said DeLuca.

The space wasn’t entirely finished until October 2007, though the first record was made in the uncompleted space in August 2007.

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“I remember we had holes in the ceiling and no tape machine,” said DeLuca. “We didn’t have the endless money of being able to throw it together at once, with the gear and everything else. You know, piece by piece.”

DeLuca and Grenham acquired the gear the studio through careful Craigslist and eBay searching. Grenham has also built (and is still building) many of the amplifiers in the studio, which the Shop either keeps in house or sells.

Before, during and after construction, the two men continued to collect equipment, including the Shop’s tape machine, Neotek console and Steinway piano, which belonged to DeLuca from childhood.

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“That was one of the main things – live room sound, have to have real pianos,” said Grenham.

Grenham and DeLuca are co-owners of the studio. DeLuca is also the head (and only) engineer. DeLuca is a conservatory-trained pianist who’s been working on both sides of a console in various forms since college. He plays guitar, bass, piano, organ and sings in various projects including Blinders, Faces on Film and Titus Andronicus. Grenham and DeLuca also both play in the New Lights.

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Titus Andronicus Live at the Soul Shop

The Shop is used as a recording space the majority of the time. However, the live room has also been used as a low-key show venue. DeLuca plays keyboard for the band Titus Andronicus and the Shop has hosted the band twice for secret shows for family and friends. The most recent show occurred in August 2014 while Titus was on their most recent Northeast tour. Blinders and Wicked Kind (members of Titus Andronicus) also played.

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Since the Shop opened, it’s been witness to dozens of different artists and bands from a slew of genres.

Guitarist Will Graefe, of Brooklyn, recorded at the Shop for the first time in 2008 with his guitar, saxophone and drums trio Dikembe’s Mutombo. The trio recorded live to 2-track tape in four hours. Since then, Graefe estimates he’s recorded at the Shop between 10 and 20 times on various projects including Wilder Maker, Katie Von Schleicher, the Soul Shop’s 2013 Christmas Record and his own solo project. Graefe also currently plays guitar with his main project Star Rover.

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Soul Shop Christmas Records

For the past two years, the Soul Shop has produced and released a Christmas record. The 2014 record, titled “Christmas Alone With You” featured originals and covers from a number of Boston bands including Parks, Abadabad, Blinders, Quarterly, Faces on Film and the Low In Between.

Take a listen to this year’s production process:

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Graefe says recording at the Shop is unique because it offers a transparent and comfortable process for recording.

“Elio eliminates a lot of the typical barriers that can inhibit spontaneity and risk,” said Graefe. “Often times, (there’s) no isolation, no head phones, no computers- just capturing the people in the room with warmth and honesty and grit and cuts and bruises, too. There’s an accountability about that.”

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Musician Katie Von Schleicher is also a regular client and friend at the Shop. She’s recorded there with Wilder Maker, Sleepy Very Sleepy, and her own solo work, among other projects.

Von Schleicher says the vibe of the Shop is a huge part of the experience of recording there.

“Whenever I go into the shop, it’s hopefully for five days at least – whenever I leave the Shop, I have some sort of postpartum depression because its a full experience,” said Von Schleicher. “It’s a fantastic place where one by product of Elio and Patrick both being picky opinionated guys is that everyone who comes in when you’re there is someone you trust and someone that you want to work with. So it’s really a fully immersive experience – a lot of the time is spent on the couch listening to overdubs while someone else is in the live room and a whole lot of it is down time, so its exhausting and somehow even the downtime where you’re sitting on the couch is riveting though. It’s like Wayne (Whittaker) cracking a joke, or in the case of Wilder Maker – or my solo stuff, Will Graefe cracking a joke, and the chemistry between everyone who’s there is a huge part – at least to me – of what the Soul Shop embodies.”

Dan Webb, of Dan Webb and the Spiders, recorded five tracks from his newest LP Perfect Problem.at the Shop. Webb, who also plays drums in Blinders with DeLuca, said the Shop’s focus on sound quality, among other things, made the recording process more comfortable and more worthwhile for him and his band,

“My favorite part was that when we tracked there was no headphones involved,” said Webb. “At the Shop, Elio had us set up in such a way that we were able to track our parts live and without headphones so it sounded awesome as we were recording it, which only added to the comfort level of the experience. and in my experience, the more comfortable you are, the better the recording goes.”

The experience of recording live in an immediate atmosphere is a major focus at the Shop. According to Grenham and DeLuca, often times musicians head to a studio and record each instrument or part of a track separately and at different moments. The idea of working at the same time and in the same space while recording is part of what makes the sound and recording methodology unique to the Shop.

“People still come in and are surprised that it’s just one big room,” said Grenham.

DeLuca references this methodology as a cornerstone to the recording process for the band Eternals (formally Stephen Konrads and the Eternals when they recorded at the Shop).

“It also needed to be built up in a careful fashion where when they played the initial tracks, they played live, looking at each other, as opposed to everyone in a separate room with closed circuit tv camera action going on,” said DeLuca.

Musicians typically find out about the Shop through word of mouth, Facebook or through their website. Details for booking – price, dates etcs. – are typically discussed and determined based on need once you make initial contact.

“No one wants a ringing phone in a recording studio,” said DeLuca.

One of DeLuca and Grenham’s favorite parts of the Shop is the community that surrounds it – not just immediately with friends or friends of friends, but with anyone who comes into the space.

“It’s nice to give people the opportunity to check out the work and the methodology and see if it’s right for them – or right for something they’re involved with,” said DeLuca. “And it is great for us to be able to recommend – like Patrick’s saying – other players for certain things. If someone comes in and they want strings on their record, it’s not them playing a string part on a MIDI keyboard. It’s four or five musicians simultaneously set up in a circle reading off a piece of paper, the way it should be – you know?”

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