A few months ago I was talking with Ego Sensation…we were discussing the new album at which time I stated that the only music I’ve been listening to over the last month is our new record. I joked with her that I should just write about it for my next installment of On The Decks! The next day I received an email from Chris over at Rocket suggesting that I do a studio report on the new album for the Rocket Blog… the synchronization of events spoke too loudly. So here it goes…a few months later…a month a half before the album hits the stores…a look at the new White Hills album from the inside.
The new album is simply titled WHITE HILLS. We see the album as a rebirth. Everything that we employed in previous recordings was thrown out the window when we went into the studio to record this album. We weren’t well rehearsed and many of the songs had very loose structures. I knew I wanted the album to feel different than the others…it needed to breathe…to be intimate and honest. I wanted to have an excess of material to choose from as well. What was formulated in my mind as to how the album was going to be at the beginning completely changed by the end.
The tracks for the album were recorded at Oneida’s studio, The Ocropolis, in Brooklyn over the 4th of July weekend in 2009. Three days and no time restraints. During this time we tracked 17 songs. A few were played more than once a number of them were made up on the spot. Out of these 17 songs 4 made it on to the album. The song by song breakdown later goes over the track in more depth. This first session was with Kid Millions on drums. Ten days later we entered The Ocropolis again with The Doctor on drums and recorded another 10 songs. The Doctor has toured Europe with us twice and most recently played with us on out last US tour in support of Wovenhand. Some of these songs were ones we recorded with Kid others were not, only a couple were played more than once. None of these tracks made it on to the album, but one, Heads On Fire, is slated for release on the upcoming Fall Down Compilation http://www.myspace.com/fallingdowncompilation …needles to say we had an over abundance of material to choose from. There are already plans for future releases from these sessions.
In the end I decided to make two versions of the album…one for vinyl and one for a CD. Both versions have 4 songs that are shared between the two, but each has a different song order and some different edits to the songs. The CD version contains 3 songs that are not on the LP and the LP contains 2 songs that are not on the CD. Both versions will have different packaging as well.
Here are the track listings for each release.
The CD version…
Let The Right One In
We Will Rise
Polvere di Stelle
The LP version…
In Circles Too
Let The Right One In
Polvere di Stelle
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN:
This track has been apart of our live set for a while now. It was one of the first songs we wrote when Kid Millions came aboard. I came up with the riff and the song just worked it’s own way out as we jammed on it. The lyrics for this one have to deal with how people are disconnected from their surroundings, from the experience of life, from what gives life and how they just don’t care. So many people are just concerned with the money god that they don’t see what they do as hurting what ultimately gave them life.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN:
LTROI is a jam we have toyed with on and off. We never really had a strict guideline as to how the song would be played. All I knew is that I wanted there to be tension in the song and for it to build. It is a haunting number. The titled of the song is named after a recent Swedish film. It was Ego’s suggestion, because the music evoked the same cold and stark feelings as did the film. The vocal line came while mixing the song. At first there was no plan to have any vocals on the track at all. I sang it in one take and it fit perfectly.
POLVERE DI STELLE:
The riff for this song came to me at a time in which I was listening to Popol Vuh and nothing else. At that time I wanted to write a song that would invoke heavenly sounds as Popol Vuh did so well, while maintaining White Hills’ leanings toward the intense. This was another track that we have jammed on now and again, but never really had a set standard as to how the song would play out. I love the way the song almost falls apart during the breakdown. That is something you cannot rehearse. The lyrics come from images I have had in my dreams.
I brought this song to the table the day before we headed into the studio. I had the riff and that was it. The song took shape instantly. For a song titled DEAD it has so much life in it. It is a punishing riff that drives you into oblivion. Upon recording the song there were no lyrics. When I sat down to write lyrics for this song they came quickly. While we were recording Ego and I were talking about having her sing more. This track fit that want perfectly.
WE WILL RISE & COUNTING SEVENS:
Both of these tracks are recordings from rehearsals. When I first started to put the album together I did not plan on using either of these tracks. As the album took shape I found that both of these jams fit the feeling of the album. Both of these tracks will only appear on the CD version.
When White Hills has some down time I usually find myself locked up in 60B messing around with the various toys to be found there. Sometimes these experiments end up on our releases…Glacial is one of these experiments. This track will also only appear on the CD.
IN CIRCLES & IN CIRCLES TOO:
These tracks come from more experiments of mine at 60B. There are 3 acoustic parts that I tracked for “In Circles”. Each one only played once through and that was it. The guitar drone was recorded at a different time. The drone stands up on its own and flows nicely with the acoustic piece. Both of these pieces will only appear on the LP version of the album.
GEAR & RECORDING:
Dave W :
Orange Tiny Terror 15 watt class A tube amp through a 2x12 Marshall cabinet. Pedals : HBE Big D Distortion, HBE UFO Octave Fuzz, Boss RV-3 Reverb, Boss DD-5 Delay, Boss Giga Delay, HBE Psilocybe Phaser, Crybaby Wah, and Moogerfooger Ring Modulator. The main guitar used was a Gibson Smartwood Les Paul. For overdubs I used a Gibson SG.
Traynor amp head and cabinet…Pedals: HBE Hematoma Bass Distortion and a Boss RV-5 Reverb.
Used his normal kit…for the life of me I do not know the make, but it is vintage and a nice sparkly gold at that.
The synths used on the album include: KORG MS2000, Moog Little Phatty, MOOG MG-1 Concertmate, TRIO AG203 Oscillator.
The Ocropolis is an odd shaped room with many instruments lined up against all the walls. We did not baffle any of the amps or drums. Instead we positioned amps in certain directions to cutdown on too much bleed between the mics. In my opinion bleed is good… I wanted to capture the ambience of the room instead of having to recreate ambience during mixing. We used close and far mixing techniques as well as various room mics to capture the sound as it bounced around the room. During mixing it was decided what tracks sounded best for each particular song. In order to keep the feel of the album in place I did not want to overdub many parts. All overdubbed tracks were played through once, not bit by bit.
My thoughts on the album…
What stands out about this album to me is that it is dark. There is an intimacy and immediacy to it…a toughness and brutality….akin to Amon Duul II’s Yeti….not to say it sounds like that album…but the feel is the same. Yeti is loose, heavy, and intense…there are moments when the band sounds like it is falling apart and then somehow comes back together. The new White Hills album has a similar vibe to it.
Release date is February 23, 2010. We will be touring Europe in support of the album with label mates PONTIAK in March. Come spring we will be playing dates around the US. For all current information keep posted to our myspace page.