Built to Spill - Keep It Like A Secret Tour
Tue · September 24, 2019
Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
Gateway City Arts
This event is minors under 18 with parent or legal guardian
The Bistro at Gateway City Arts will be serving a special event menu with counter service (no reservations) until 10pm on show nights. For information regarding The Bistro, please call 413-650-0786. For information regarding the venue or show, please call 413-650-2670https://www.dspshows.com/event/1833084/
Doug Martsch formed Built To Spill in 1992. His intention was to sustain a project that would involve a rotating cast of musicians to record albums and tour. The first incarnation of Built To Spill included Doug, Brett Netson, and Ralf (Youtz). Recording in the middle of the night in order to get free studio time, they assembled 1993s Ultimate Alternative Wavers. For a few years and a few records band members came and went. In 1996, while recording the album Perfect From Now On (their Warner Bros. Records debut), Doug found a rhythm section he could not relinquish: Brett Nelson and Scott Plouf. This line-up toured and made records with additional guest musicians Brett Netson and Sam Coomes. In 1999, after the release of Keep It Like A Secret, Jim Roth joined the band as live co-guitarist.
In the five years since the bands most recent effort Ancient Melodies Of The Future was released, Built To Spill took an eighteen-month vacation. When the group returned to work, the line-up included Jim Roth as a core member. This foursome started jamming and recording their hours-long musical explorations. According to Doug, they had no idea what kind of music they wanted to make.
You In Reverse arrives as the most collaborative record in the bands thirteen-year history. To a large extent, each musician wrote his own parts. Half of the finished material incorporates segments the band wrote together during jam sessions.
Doug did bring in a few songs ready to go. Tracks like Liar and Saturday were pretty much there when the band learned them, while Goin Against Your Mind and Traces are full of riffs discovered during musical research. Dougs private writing process then allowed him to meld favorite spontaneous moments with composed transitions and intricate melodies.
With a batch of songs in hand, the goal became to keep the recording simple and stripped down. The band wanted to retain the impromptu, organic feel of their jams. Rather than Dougs former reliance on extensive overdubs, the group tried to capture loose and live moments, letting each individual musicians talents be more accurately represented. Instead of a broad, atmospheric sweep, this record sounds natural. It resonates with relationships, the way the band as a whole responds to music and to each other. Being the new guy, Jim Roth appreciated this approach. To Jim, they were striving to see what the band could be, the four of us. Now we can see the potential. These new songs are just starting to scratch the surface. Expressing his connection to music as that of both craftsman and artist, he considers each composition to be like a painting or a sculpture, its own thing.
As a discrete creation the record relies on more than good chemistry and Dougs expansive writing. The band decided to self-produce in order to put themselves in a new situation. Similar to the generative process, they felt a need to try something different. Just to see what would happen, Doug admits, Ive made enough records to know I could do this. Also, engineers take pride in their work and would not let it be too fucked up. When they chose Steve Lobdells Audible Alchemy studio, they happened upon another element of the album. Steve, being the musical person he is, just fell into the role of co-producer, Doug says, then recants, Its not even really produced. Its cleanly recorded and mixed. Its not slick.
At Audible Alchemy, they wound up chasing a 1960s sound. Sonically, Doug says, We wanted it to sound like classic rock or soula piece of vinyl. Both Steve and engineer Jacob Hall are audiophiles who love old records and are into those sorts of sounds. They used analog recording equipment and spent hours listening back to tracks for the smallest nuances. Steve (a member of Faust) also played space echo, guitar, vibes, and percussion on the record. He understood the songs and their parameters, making specific and well-considered contributions.
Other guest musicians include Quasis Sam Coomes on organ and longtime Built To Spill contributor Brett Netson on guitar. Partway through the making of this record, Netson officially joined Built To Spill as their fifth member and played guitar on three of the songs. His mind-melting solo on Just A Habit will remind longtime Built To Spill listeners of the amazing lead guitar tracks he laid down for Perfect From Now On.
When Doug is asked what he wants people to know about the album, he replies, I would rather not manipulate peoples opinions about it. Bassist Brett Nelson thinks this record is what everybody in the band would want it to sound like. Brett also mentions the different styles of songs, anything from New Wave to Reggae breakdowns. While many influences and song structures arise and dissolve, none dominates the overall force of the album.
The songs are haunting rather than catchy. Each musical thought is surprising and complete. Dougs lyrics hint at politics, but could also be personal. As usual, the words lining the songs are neither directive nor dogmatic. Rational thoughts are constantly sacrificed to the metric and melodic needs of each song. No message blares forth. And yet, its understood.
To the uninitiated, this progression of not-long-lasting groups and musical approaches may come across as scattered, or maybe even semi-typical of singer/songwriters like Schalda. But listening to his music, you don’t hear a man of many parts. You hear a sum of his experiences. This singular sound is helped by the fact that his doo-wop crooning father, Will Schalda, Sr., and brother, Will Schalda, have brought energy and inspiration to each record. In Pablo, his brother Will played keyboards and his father provided backing vocals in the studio.
What you can hear in Schalda’s music, no matter which song you hear, is that the road hasn’t been easy. His voice can be hauntingly harsh, yet hopeful and tender, raucous and gravelly one moment, smooth and intimate the next. In his cadences you can feel elation and life–performing on the road, tours funded out of his own pocket, and the hardships it all brought to family and loved ones.
After the second Pablo album in 2009, Schalda decided it was time to step away. He went back to school, got a desk job, and began to think that this is what life would be. Naturally, a new opportunity came calling. Tom Brenneck, of Daptone and Dunham fame, contacted Schalda about playing backing guitar for soul-man Charles Bradley’s tour. Once again, he hit the road. But this time, things were different.
Schalda had left music, only to have it come back. This brought new perspective and approach. And it takes the name of Paul and The Tall Trees. This is all shown in a new LP, being released on Brooklyn’s Big Crown Records. There is a renewed comfort, and an appreciation for even being able to write and perform his music. Yet some things remain: Schalda’s father plays a soulful harmonica on the record, and his brother presses out lyrical chords on the piano and organ. Both contribute to the vocal harmonies you hear. And still Schalda, even being compared to the famous groups and musicians mentioned above, can only call it Rock and Roll and be humbled. “I’m very lucky to be able to do this,” Schalda says. “And I’m extremely happy. Especially for my father. He worked hard for his sons and this record.”
Gateway City Arts
92 Race Street
Holyoke, MA, 01040