The prevailing wisdom holds that bands in northerly latitudes like Missoula are supposed to make like grasshoppers during the summer and ants in the winter, whiling away the summer months with rock festivals and short tours and holing up during the colder months to record new material. That’s what Volumen were supposed to be doing last winter, anyway—taking a five-month break from playing to work on a new album and come roaring back in the spring with an all-new set.
It worked out mostly according to plan—except for the new album part. But now, says guitarist/recording engineer Doug Smith, the basement studio at International House of Volumen is finally equipped to begin recording a full-length follow-up to last year’s Cries from Space LP.
“We’re mostly doing pre-production work right now,” says Smith, “trying to figure out how to arrange things, recording rough takes and playing with things to see how we can make them sound better.”
The first step, Smith says, was buying new microphones.
“We felt like we needed better ones. The microphone is the first thing the signal hits, so naturally it’s important to have good ones. There’s thousands of kinds to choose from, though, so I had to do a little research to find out which kinds were good for the things we wanted them to do.”
The second step was replacing the analog-to-digital interface on the studio computer. In the past, Volumen have used a mixing board for home recording, which Smith now considers an unnecessary extra step. The band has already put the new interface to the test, recording and mixing “Ladycop,” their side of an upcoming split seven-inch with No Fi Soul Rebellion on local label Wäntage USA, as well as another track, “Pandemonium,” for the label’s gala 21st release compilation.
Along with all the old favorites, Volumen fans have probably noticed an impressive reserve of unrecorded and/or unreleased material in their live set in recent months. Not just newer songs like “What I Got’s All Around” and “Magnetic Communication,” but older tunes like “So What,” recorded during the Cries from Space sessions with producer Tim Green, but dropped from the final release. At press time, puttering on a new album that will include these songs and many more was slated to begin immediately (“Tonight!” enthuses Smith), but with no particular release schedule.
“We’re just going to play around and have fun for a while,” says Smith. “I’m going to suggest that we start right now and see what we come up with between now and the time we leave for Europe.”
(Europe? That’s right! Volumen are planning to tour the Baltics—Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania—during the first two weeks in September. Their next local show is on July 11.)
In other local recording news: No Fi Soul Rebellion frontman Mark Heimer says he’s finished with eight tracks for a new album, as well as his band’s side of the upcoming split with Volumen. As some readers might have noticed, the No Fi lineup has also changed recently—pared down to mainly just Heimer, who records most of the music himself, and his wife Andrea on bass. The couple was married just last month, by the way. Congratulations!
Semi-official copies of the Oblio Joes’ Bevel Studio sessions have begun to appear around town. At last word, the Oblios were still shopping the nine songs (their last with former bassist Tor Dahl) around to different labels, but guitarist/vocalist John Brownell says he decided to cook up a few copies in the meantime using the Dollar CD net music service. The record is as wonderful as you’d expect, with popular live attractions like “[It’s] on the Fridge” and the marvelous “Captain of the Moon.” “Captain of the Moon,” “Swallow the Moon,” “Roll On, Kentucky Moon”...what’s with these guys and the moon, anyway?
Finally: The International Playboys have decided to release their next album themselves. Recorded at Tim Kerr’s Sweatbox studio in Austin, Texas, the as-yet untitled (or maybe they just want the title to be a surprise—one contender in the running was Sex Organ) record will include eleven new tracks of high-rolling Playboy sleaze. It’s being mastered even as you read this, according to singer Colin Hickey, so start looking for the trail of sweat later this month.