"The record's a mix between songs that have been nitpicked to death and songs that are first takes" – hmv.com talks to SKATERS
Ahead of the release of their debut album Manhattan, we chat to New York trio SKATERS about making the album in the legendary Electric Lady Studios and how some random hands ended up on their album cover…
Your album's out on Monday, how are you feeling ahead of release?
"I feel like we've been waiting for so long that I'm not nervous anymore. If we'd been putting it out like a month after we'd finished it I'd be nervous, but not now, I'm just ready for it to come out."
When did you actually finish it?
"It's been a while, in the summer, maybe July or August we finally stopped working on it."
How long did it take to make? Were you in the studio for a while?
"It was a strange experience, we were travelling a lot while we were making the record. We'd work on it, then fly off to tour, then come back to L.A and do a couple more weeks and then we'd go off to Europe. We did a big hunk of it in New York at Electric Lady, but we actually ended up mixing the record in the UK as we were touring, we'd be playing shows all week and then mix the record on weekends. It was crazy."
What was it like working in Electric Lady Studios? Some pretty big records have been made there…
"Yeah it's an amazing place, you really feel the atmosphere of that place. You walk through the halls and you see the gold records on the wall, it definitely puts pressure on you, it makes you want to do well."
You worked with John Hill as a producer, whose worked with Santigold amongst others, what was he like?
"He was awesome. We were a bit nervous because we hadn't met him before we agreed to do the record, but in the end we hung out with him for a week before the recording started and did some pre-production and we quickly became firm friends. We have a solid bit of common ground when it comes to the stuff we like."
Your sound is quite raw, were you careful to make sure things didn't sound over produced?
"We actually produced the shit out of this record. We focused on trying to make it as perfect as possible. But, we did share this idea that if something sounds good, even if it's recorded on shitty equipment, like a terrible microphone, then it goes on. We weren't going for high fidelity, we were going for the best sounds we could find."
Was it an intense process or quite relaxed?
"A little of both. Some tracks required a lot of takes to get them perfect, but other things, like certain vocal takes, were done in the middle of the night after we'd been out partying. The record's a mix between songs that have been nitpicked to death and songs that are first takes."
As this is your debut record, are there songs on there that date back a while? Or is it all recent stuff?
"It's all pretty recent, there's only two songs that are on the original demo we recorded at our house. We've been sat on these songs for a while so they're not new to me, but hopefully new to everyone else."
What kind of record is it lyrically?
"We write in broad strokes when it comes to lyrics, big metaphors. I wouldn't say it's super introspective, but all the experiences on the record that we're writing about happened to us or people we know."
You must have been playing a lot of these songs live for a while, do they very different on record?
"It's interesting actually. We've been playing some songs for the last year that we were sure would make it on to the record but in the end they didn't even make the cut. We had 30 songs going in, we've had to cut lots we've been playing for ages."
Why did you settle on Mahattan for a title?
"We went through a lot of titles, but we decided on that one because the 11 songs we picked are quite New York centric. The band also met in New York and while we were in the studio we were all bar tending in Manhattan and then we recorded there. So it seemed to be leading us to that."
Tell us about the cover, it's pretty striking…
"Josh (Hubbard - guitarist) and I went to L.A to do the art and we got super into the late 70s punk Xerox posters and we messed around with that. In the end, we got a girl from Warner Brothers to put her hands in this Xerox machine and we worked off that."
So what's your plan for the rest of the year?
"The record drops on Monday and we're coming over to the UK to do eight shows. Then we go back to do SXSW and a UK tour then lots of festivals, we're going to Spain, Australia and hopefully back to the UK for plenty of festivals."
SKATERS' debut album Manhattan is out on Monday (February 24). You can check out their back catalogue here.