11 Questions for SARN
(and a killer remix/premier of Sippy Cup below)
1. You have worked with John Vanderslice in the past- how did the most recent session play out compared to previous times you recorded Tiny Telephone studio?
This was my second time recording at the Oakland studio. The main difference with recording this album was Jason Slota (drums/percussion), Rob Shelton
(keyboards/synths/sampler) and I (acoustic guitar) recorded live at the same time. In all past sessions, keyboards were added separately after drums, guitars and vocals
were recorded (actually, on Foreign Feeling, everything was recorded individually). We were all in separate rooms- I was in the live room with the high ceilings
(the one you always see pics of), Jason in a smaller iso room to the side of the control room and Rob was in the control room with JV.
On the first day of recording we sat around in a circle and talked briefly about what I wanted to do with this album in comparison to Postmodern Trash, which we all agreed
was super 'out there.' I said I wanted it to have as little guitar as possible and as always, weird as fuck. We still ended up having plenty of guitar throughout but way
less than Postmodern Trash, which had guitar on every track. Also, in comparison to Postmodern Trash, this album has minimal vocal effects.
The songs on this album were written a few weeks before the session. When going in, I like the songs to be fresh and relevant to where I am at that point in time.
I spend like 95% of my waking life listening to music and thinking about music, and maybe 5% actually writing- it's usually once a year, right before a recording session.
2. You have mentioned that this is going to be a 'transitional' release- what does that mean?
I'm always looking to do something different with each album, so really, I can call each album a transitional one. But I think we broke new ground on
this one, the openness- songs that have room to breathe, sound is fuller, cleaner, and less chaotic in that sounds aren't fighting for real estate, etc….
3. Do you have a working title for the new album yet?
4. Release date?
It'll probably be late fall.
5. Cover art?
6. You worked with drummer Jason Slota and keyboardist Rob Shelton on the new album, but you have worked with them before. Were the new songs recorded live?
How long was the entire session?
Yes, they were recorded live and it was 4 days recording and 2 days of JV mixing by himself. Day one and two with Jason and Rob, day three and four with Rob, who
also served as assistant engineer in a sense in setting up mics and doing things JV would normally do but couldn't because his foot was broken.
7. What is the track list going to be for the new release? Will the 'remixes' be part of the release?
The track list is:
1. Cracker Jack
3. Sippy Cup
4. Scene Elder Council
5. Drust Jive
7. bed. (John Vanderslice remix)
8. Sippy Cup (John Vanderslice remix)
9. Drust Jive (John Vanderslice remix)
The remixes will be cassette only, with the exception of Sippy Cup, which I am going to post on my bandcamp so you can premiere it as part of this.
Editor's note: This song is fucking killer.
8. I know that you thought you were going into this session in a somewhat less structured way compared to your previous albums. Was this a terrifying process-
what was your approach going in? Did you have demos of all of the songs that you played for the 'band' and then they chipped in? How did the arrangements work?
I did not have all of the songs fully fleshed out and I think that can be a good thing when going into a session with killer musicians you absolutely trust.
I would play each song in the control room once on acoustic guitar, then JV would instantly name off a bunch of instruments, how they should be set up and mic'd, and
how/where everyone will be playing- it really is amazing how fast and precise he is. When everyone is in place, with cans on, I'd play the song a few more times
with the guys playing along and getting their parts down. JV may give input on feel, timing, etc., while we're doing this, like 'Jason, maybe a little less
Phil Collins on the drums.' Within 45 minutes of me initially playing the song for them, we'd have a final.
I did not write much guitar and I purposely left a lot of room in the songs for these guys to fuck it up, which they 1000% did.
9. How much input did JV have in the arrangements? Did he make any suggestions that you either accepted or rejected?
JV had a lot of input in the arrangements and he does the mixing on his own so he plays a huge role in all my albums. For example, at the end of Drust Jive,
after I sing the chorus a second time, that whole part where it's just a bunch of playing for like two minutes, that was his idea. He just told the guys to
vamp out and they just kept playing off each other for a couple minutes- it turned out awesome! He has total freedom to do whatever he wants on my albums and
I think that's one reason he doesn't feel a need to make more records under his own name- these albums are as much his as mine. Doesn't the music in Sippy Cup
sound like a continuation of Dagger Beach in some way?
Editor's note- yes. Perfectly.
10. HOW THE FUCK DID YOU DO THIS? The album is wildly imaginative!
I'm a weird dude and I spend a lot of time thinking about weird shit.
11. Write/say anything else you'd like.
I love you!!!
Editor's note: I love you too.
Often during the sessions, JV would ask Rob which keyboard he wanted to play on a particular track. JV would say "Chef's choice" which essentially means
"Play whatever you want- doesn't matter. We're gonna fuck it up regardless."
In between takes for Sippy Cup, while the tape was rewinding, JV said over the headphones,
"Guys, I'm afraid Sarn is gonna pull out a gun and slap me with it." It's funny because I am probably the least threatening person in any room.
these guys (Slota, Shelton, Vanderslice) are way out of my league! it should be illegal for me to play with them, honestly. the sippy cup remix is also one of my favorites. JV really went nuts sonically on that one.