|People Get Ready’s Gear:
People Get Ready is a perfect example of what can happen when vastly different personalities come together and become something greater than their sum. James Rickman writes many of the band’s guitar parts and writes equally well on many of New York’s art house musicians (Playback), while co-conspirator Steven Reker moonlights as a professional dancer for several artists (including David Byrne), and that’s just what two members of the quartet are up to. No matter… together the band becomes something entirely different. Referring to themselves as interdisciplinary, you’re just as likely to find physical acrobatics and light shows at their gigs as you are to find a schizophrenic jungle of sounds tangled together in a loosely defined version of Afrobeat(y) groove music, complete with sugary harmonies supplied by keyboardist/singer Jen Goma and Reker, and wake-the-dead drumlines supplied by Luke Fasano.
Equal parts art and music, there’s no telling what venue the band is likely to turn up at. But the quality and fun of their dance-ready jam sections in tracks like ‘Uncanny’ and the breathtaking launch of ‘Cathedral’ off their latest self-titled EP should be enough to make anyone want to join in their unique cross-genre, globe-hopping, head-tripping dance party.
There is so much going on in your records, tell me where you get some of your sounds from?
Most of the sounds are from old Casio Keyboards – I became obsessed with them a couple years back! The songs from the EP were originally guitar based – then I distilled those ideas into the keyboards – which left a bunch of room for Luke to add percussion and for Jherek Bischoff (our producer) to work his magic.
How much of your recording is done at home versus in the studio?
Steven: We recorded the EP with our main man Jherek Bischoff in his Dad’s studio on Bainbridge Island outside of Seattle – The Nakamal. But the upcoming full-length was all done outside the studio – at Denniston Hill. We loaded into the house and within about 2 hours we were recording. The rooms sounded incredible – we really lucked out. I’m going to pass a bunch of these tech question off to to Jherek now – as he can them with a technical fondness I dont have.
If you use a studio, what do you record there and what do you record by yourself and why?
JB- My set up is super mobile. I love finding new spaces and working with limitations. I find it very inspiring. I record myself because I enjoy the luxury of getting to experiment with things and not be looking at the clock. I sometimes go to my dad’s studio, which is basically a room with a drum set and a piano in it, but it is out in the boonies and when I need to get a solid chunk of work done, that environment is very useful. I also live in an apartment, so when I need to make a bunch of really loud music, my parents place is pretty great. But I love working and messing around with stuff.
What are the pieces of equipment that you find particularly inspiring when recording at home?
JB -Well the 2 things that always make me happy are my Casio SK-1 and a little pedal called Pitchshifter/Delay by Boss. Whenever I need a crazy sound but I don’t want it to be too “Wierd” I find some combination of those 2 things and it always surprises me. I love it!
What one piece of hardware/software would you most like to add to your recording setup (cost not an issue)? Why?
JB – 1 nice microphone! I have a nice little mic given to me by Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu. It is the only mic that I have ever really owned other than a kick mic and a couple 57’s.. I would love a nice condensor, but I have a hard time getting the courage to buy expensive stuff. I would love a sweet mic though! I really like the sound of Neumann U87’s.
Do you expect your next record to be self-produced, or would you like to work with a producer? If it’s the latter, who would you most like to produce your band, and why?
Steven: I think our next record may be completely demoed by the band first – and we may or may not use some of that material for the actual record. Hopefully Jher-bear will be free to produce us again – we’ll see!! If Jherek cant do it – Brain Eno and Chris Coady were talking about teaming up for our next recording project – so we’ll have that to fall back on if we want… (totes lying over here)
JB – Hey wait! I want to be in that sandwich! I can be the vegan cheese in that Eno/Coady sandywich!
Do you use rack effects or guitar pedals to forge your own sound? If you do, please list the ones you use the most and let us know why you love them.
JB -I use a Rat pedal a lot on things. Not to distort things, but to use more as a compressor/eq. It really dulls things out in a nice way I think. I like slap back delay A LOT and I find that pretty much any delay pedal sounds pretty good for that. Steven has just one of those Boss EQ pedals which is fun to make some sounds with! I just got some new pedals, but have not used them on anything yet…
Do you have a particular recording style that you aim for? What techniques do you employ to recreate it?
JB -My biggest influence in recording is Greg Saunier from Deerhoof. That man has recorded most of their records and they sound INSANELY great! He does it with the most limited amount of gear imaginable. I was at his apartment recently and they had one mic and a little boom box! He used free protools for the longest time, maybe still does! I was talking to him about how he should really have had a nice Tape Op thing about him or something, but because he dosen’t actually use any gear, I think the magazines realize they can’t promote any gear so he has not gotten the recognition I think he deserves for being one of the most DIY dudes on the planet! Other than that, I feel like the songs dictate the sounds for me. I am not so into doing full on retro stuff, if I put in some 60’s guitar, its usually balanced out with something more modern.
Who determines the direction and style of your recordings?
Steven: Id say its pretty collaborative – we’d give impressions, images, desires, and ideas on textures and sounds to Jherek – he’d spin that into reality. I guess the band would mostly determine direction and Jherek would help give it style.
JB – With the EP it was very collaborative. I felt like Steven brought in these great sketches and then we really went to town adding things here and there. A lot of freedom on my side to help discover where the band was headed. The EP really brought into focus what they were going to do with the full length. For the full length I basically just tried to capture what the band sounded like as well as I could. We had some amazing rooms, bathrooms and stairwells that I used for the reverbs. There are no artificial reverbs on the new record! That was fun!
Would you say that your live show informs your recording process or that your recording process informs your live show? Both? Neither?
Steven: Yeah – they inform each other. On some songs while we were recording we were striving to capture the live energy – and now that the record is done we strive to get some songs sounding as full and precise as the recording – but were not real sticklers – a record is a record and a show is a show…
Is there a piece of equipment that you find particularly useful on stage?
Steven: Loud monitors – thats the extent of my technical knowledge for live sound…
With bands doing more of everything themselves these days (recording, performing, self-promoting, etc.) and the evermore multimedia nature of the world, how much effort do you put into the visual component of your band – fashion, styling, photography, graphic/web design, etc.? Do you do these things yourself or is there someone that the band works with?
Steven: We also do these large productions that incorporate dance and performance elements. All that is self produced and commissioned by a theater – its a significant amount of work – but as far as web stuff / photo / etc. we are a bit deficient – and rely on the the talents of others for what we do have. Quite Scientific Records, who put out our EP, whipped us into shape and helped us create the most basic things we needed – website / facebook / twitter / etc. – But I honestly dont even know how to sign into our twitter!
What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of the recording process? On the flipside, what aspects are the most rewarding?
When I update my Mac and suddenly nothing works anymore… That is the most annoying part of this whole computer recording thing.. I am not so computer savvy so it is a real mess!
I just love recording, meeting new people and hanging out with lovelies like PGR! I learn things every time I hit record and I gather all of that knowledge and apply it to the next thing! I also love the magic of creating something and knowing you are the only person in the universe that has heard it! That’s pretty special.