InfiniteBack in September of 2016 we were bummed to have to say goodbye to one of Boston’s most enduring and consistently great acts, Guillermo Sexo. After an impressive 12 years and 6 LP’s of accomplished psych-garage pop, the band decided to call it a day. With chief songwriter and founding member, Reuben Bettsak relocating his family to Atlanta shortly after Guillermo Sexo’s final performance it was unclear when we would hear new material from Reuben. Save for few songs shared via his Soundcloud account and released under his solo project, Emerald Comets he’s been relatively quiet since moving south, until now. On May 11th Reuben will release his debut EP with his new project Infinite Room and today we are thrilled to premiere Serpent. The track displays a lot of what drew us Guillermo Sexo over a decade ago, angular guitar lines, exquisite melodies and hooks submerged in dense fuzz. Infinite Room’s debut track, finds Bettsak pushing his song craft and sonics into exciting new terrain. We recently caught up with Reuben to chat about his new recording vehicle, Infinite Room and the forthcoming debut EP.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Can you tell me how your new project, Infinite Room came about?

Reuben Bettsak: I met Tom Bruno (Drums) through a mutual friend and we started playing music together. He brought in Mike Walden, and we started working on song ideas. Tom was getting into recording, around that time, and was recording all of our song ideas. It was a good way for us to listen to what we were doing, and develop a sound we were happy with. It took months of messing around, but it finally came together. We have not operated like many bands where you write songs, and play shows before recording. We focused our energy on creating, and developing songs with the mission of recording an EP before playing shows.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: What was the recording process for these songs?

Reuben Bettsak: For the EP I wrote, and recorded vocals, and guitars for the songs and put them on a dropbox folder. Tom took those songs, added drums, bass, and keyboards, and then Mike tracked additional keyboard parts. Tom then mixed everything together, and really shaped the way things sound. There are so many layers, and it’s dense..but there is a method to the madness, and for me the songs sound refreshing, and unique. It’s definitely a headphones music experience. I have to give Tom a lot of credit for putting many many hours shaping everything together.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Will the band be touring in support of the new EP?

Reuben Bettsak: The last few months were focused on getting the EP written, and recorded.. We are finally figuring out how the hell we are going to play these songs live, and maybe adding another member to the band. Mike is playing bass for the live band, so we are looking for a keyboard player. I think we will be ready to play live in a couple of months, and will start playing shows around Atlanta. We will hopefully expand to shows in other states. I am playing these songs solo on May 12th at Kavarna in Decatur, GA.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Can we expect more recordings or a full length in the future?

Reuben Bettsak: I’ve recorded a bunch of songs ideas, and Tom is already starting to go through them. We will likely release another EP this year, and work our way to doing a full length. I’m definitely excited about this band. I think the sound we are creating is really interesting, and I really like creating music with these guys.

Superdrag Infrared On March 24th, 1998 Knoxville, TN’s power pop stalwarts, Superdrag released Head Trip In Every Key their 2nd and final album for Elektra Records. A stunning and captivating LP that sounds just as good today as it did the day it was released and my personal favorite in the Superdrag canon. The album is a logical next step from their debut, Regretfully Yours and finds the band pushing their sound to exciting new heights, producing an album overflowing with hooks and superb instrumentation. An album as good as Head Trip is should’ve have been met with wide open arms by the label, but shamefully that’s not what happened. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with former Superdrag chief songwriter and co-founder, John Davis to discuss the albums 20th anniversary. Over a couple of days of e-mails John shared a good deal about the writing and recording process the led to the release of Head Trip In Every Key, his recent recording project, The Lees of Memory and we even touched on his long term sobriety.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: March 24th marked 20 years since the release of Head Trip In Every Key, what are your initial thoughts on the albums platinum anniversary?

John Davis: Ah man, wow… my thoughts are all over the place. ha ha On a day to day basis, I don’t think about Superdrag all that much. As somebody who tries to stay in a constant state of creating, I find that too much of the nostalgia tends to muddy the waters a bit going forward. But I take a lot of pride in the work we did on that album. We definitely swung for the fences creatively. I immediately think of our producer, Jerry Finn. He died almost 10 years ago. He was taken way too soon. On that level, there’s a sadness surrounding Head Trip in my thoughts now. Jerry should’ve been a Jim Dickinson or a Jerry Wexler. he should’ve been one of those guys that makes records for 50 years that they write all the books about. He was that good. Of course, that album cycle sort of ended up being the beginning of the end of our tenure at Elektra Records, so inevitably I end up thinking about all the things they could’ve or should’ve done about it, which is completely pointless now. ha ha Still, if they hadn’t been so risk-averse in their choice of singles and if they hadn’t withdrawn our video budget for no good reason, who knows what might’ve happened? The Art Of Dying should’ve been the single. Something that emphasized what made the record unique & special. It definitely stood apart from the Commercial Alternative field of the day. Nobody else was cutting songs like that in 1997. I have to give a shout-out to our old friend Mr. Jim Cortez, the one person at the company that wholeheartedly believed in Head Trip In Every Key. He had 14 stations in his territory, and he got both the Head Trip singles added to 13 of them. We must’ve done something that really pissed off #14. His success proved that it wasn’t impossible. I mean, the perception is that the record came completely out of left field, but it wasn’t that weird. It was just different. That should’ve been celebrated rather than feared. Meanwhile, over at Warner Bros., they were manufacturing and distributing Zaireeka for The Flaming Lips, for God’s sake! But Pine Away was too adventurous to be a single. What people don’t realize is that so many of these decisions are driven by people’s ego games. If you think the artists have big egos, you should meet the A&R guys. They’re not even creating anything, but they’re the key players because they have the ears of the people who ultimately control your destiny, the ones that control the money. So in our case, because this guy once sat on a piano bench and meddled with one of our songs for 15 minutes, of course that had to be the obvious choice for the single! That’s how it works. They don’t tell you that. Well, Steve Albini tried to tell you, but nobody listened. One other thought on Head Trip though, right off the bat, is that I’m really glad somebody finally put it on vinyl, SideOneDummy Records did it up right. The entire project was conceived for vinyl from day one. I didn’t even own a CD player when we made that album! That’s the truth. It’s to Elektra’s shame that they couldn’t be bothered to put it on vinyl. Believe me, we tried hard to get it done. They flatly refused. So getting to see that happen definitely felt like a small victory and a wrong being reversed.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: What was the writing and recording process for the album?

John Davis: Well, it happened over time. I had several of the songs demo’d up in 4-Track form before our first album came out. I write a lot, always have. Annetichrist, Sold You An Alibi, I’m Expanding My Mind, I wrote all of those in ’95. Don Coffey Jr. used to keep a kit set up in our kitchen, we’d set the 4-Track on the stovetop and go to town. We’d get on a hot streak and record a song every day for a week or something. Those songs came from one of those hot streaks as I recall. The intro and verse riffs on The Art Of Dying came out of a period of intense personal discovery. ha ha with a few enhancements. Pine Away I wrote when I was about 17 years old. My Mamaw lived in the house with us, and she had a key to our church because she served down there a lot. It was about 50 yards from our back door. She let me in to record the drums on the first demo version of Pine Away. The piano I learned to play on (and still have and use in my home studio today) was hers, also. Thank you, Mamaw. We toured for about 11 months behind Regretfully Yours, we were completely mentally and physically zorched after that. So, we went home and took a month off, then we set up shop in Bearsville, NY for the entire month of February 1997 to finish writing the album. We rented out the Utopia Rehearsal facility owned by Bearsville Studios. At one point in time it was Todd Rundgren‘s practice space. Nick Raskulinecz flew in from L.A. with his 8-Track cassette recorder and the necessary outboard stuff and we spent a whole month writing and recording in there. That’s all we did, to be honest, there wasn’t much else to do! I think that was probably the point to get us isolated someplace where we could focus on nothing but new music. That month in Bearsville might be the most fun I ever had playing in the band, it was super-productive, too. We got to hang out with Sally Grossman while we were there, that was pretty cool. She’s the lady sitting in the chair on the cover of Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home! She also took me to see Big Pink. We also met Jerry for the first time while we were up there. It was a hell of a good time.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: How did Jerry Finn come to produce the album?

John Davis: Well, we had a couple of ideas for producers we wanted to talk to initially, most of those were vetoed. I wanted to talk to Don Fleming, that was vetoed. Jerry Harrison came to Knoxville to talk to us, but we really didn’t hit it off. He was a nice dude, and he’s obviously a legend and a Hall Of Famer and everything, but had some non-negotiables that didn’t jive with our ideas, namely recording to ProTools and tape at the same time. That was a line in the sand we were unwilling to budge on: no Pro Tools. We wanted to make a 100% analog recording. The one digital concession was manufacturing CDs. Jerry Finn was the only guy on the short list who was willing to come all the way up to Bearsville to talk to us. He already had some huge successes under his belt by that time, but I think he was drawn to the idea of making a completely different kind of record than the ones he was best known for. I’m pretty sure he had already listened to some of the demos beforehand. We just knew almost immediately that Jerry could help us realize what we wanted to do with the record. He was a beautiful guy man, always fun to be around. He had a wicked sense of humor and loved to laugh. He had a heavy reputation as being one of the best engineers and mixers in the world, even according to our know-nothing A&R. Homeboy was right about that much. We started out at Ardent Studios in Memphis, but after the first day of loading in and starting to build our world Jerry could see that the room just wasn’t big enough for his recording scheme, particularly in terms of mic’ing the room for drums. You’ve heard Head Trip, so you already know the benefits of his drum methods, especially in the room we ended up in at Sound City. You won’t see us in the movie, but we were definitely there! It doesn’t matter. We made our own fuckin’ movie at Sound City.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: I read once that you feel that Headtrip is the best sounding Superdrag LP, could you elaborate on that statement?

John Davis: I mentioned Sound City already, but there’s a list as long as your arm of classic recordings that were made there. The big room was just a magical space for sound. So, you put us in there, I guess I’m boasting but we definitely had our shit together by that point, we’re in there with Jerry, who’s a boss, Mike Fasano, the best drum tech in the business, Bobby Schneck, the best guitar tech in the business, Nick Raskulinecz assisting, who is the total “5th Beatle” with Superdrag and now has a resume of his own that shows how incredibly gifted he is, we’ve got 5 different drum kits that can be mixed and matched to cater specifically to each song, about 25 different guitars, each one being the best-case example of its make and model, a room full of vintage, Custom Shop & boutique tube amps, the capability of renting a Mellotron or a sitar or anything that came to mind, one of the world’s greatest Neve consoles, a closet full of Beatle mics and a 2″ tape machine. You really couldn’t invent a better scenario for recording music.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: How do you feel that album has stood up over the past two decades?

John Davis: I think it speaks for itself.

The Lees Of Mem
The Lees Of Memory

The AGP: How did the your new project The Lees of Memory come about?

John: It was really Brandon Fisher‘s fault, I blame him. ha ha Seriously, besides my wife I’d have to say that Brandon is my best friend in life. We’ve been friends since 1988. When I started playing music seriously, I wanted to play it with him. He quit Superdrag in ’99, he played on In The Valley Of Dying Stars, but he didn’t want to tour behind it. It was a major bummer at the time, but I understood why he had to do what he did. That’s the thing, it’s just a band or a record or an ego game for some, but when you’re in it it’s also real life and people want different things out of it at different times. Same with Tom Pappas, it was a bummer when he left, but I understood why and I respected the decision. We were struggling at that point to keep it going, and I always figured if he was gonna have to struggle he preferred to do it under his own banner. I get it. Fast-forward a few years and we ended up doing the Superdrag reunion tours, and eventually working on new music together, but I’ve always stayed in contact with Brandon. He’s a member of the family. What happened was, the Fishers came to visit us in Nashville for the weekend in August of 2012, and Brandon had a new song he wanted to record on 4-Track called Deliquesce so, we recorded it and we were super-stoked on the way it turned out. The recording is out there online, on the High Bias!!! A Cassette-Based OperationTM Bandcamp page. So I had been writing a bunch of stuff, semi-aimlessly, with no real concept for what I wanted to do with it, but Brandon’s song lit a fire under me and I kept writing more and so did he, sort of on parallel tracks for a while, but the 2 batches of material were very sympathetic to the point where we were like, “dude, let’s just work together on these.” Enter Nick Raskulinecz and Nick Slack, and that’s how Sisyphus Says happened. We had already been working with SideOneDummy on the Superdrag vinyl reissues, so I sent them the finished record on a whim just to see what they’d say about it. They hit me back the same day wanting to do something.

The AGP: Will you tour behind the latest LP, The Blinding White Of Nothing at All?

John: No, our lives are such now that any kind of an extended absence would kind of turn everything upside down. But, we do have some shows on the books. I can’t say more than that for the time being but shows are happening.

The AGP: What does the rest of 2018 have in-store for you and your latest songwriting vehicle?

John: I’m working on a full-length project with my friend Mike Armstrong we’re calling ourselves The Rectangle Shades. It’ll be 6 songs from him and 6 songs from me. If people follow the Lees on social media we’ll make it known when and where to get the record. A couple of the tracks are up on the High Bias!!! Bandcamp already. I’m really excited about everything we’ve got so far. Mike owns Lost And Found Records in Knoxville. I worked there from 1993 until Superdrag signed. Best job I ever had!

The AGP: You’ve been sober since the early aughts, would you mind sharing what brought you to the point where you decided to stop drinking?

John: It was what I recognized to be the Holy Spirit. People have different names for it. But, it was the light of truth shining into an impenetrable darkness. People have tried at times to convince me otherwise, like it was some inner strength or power I had within me. No, I had no power. I had my senses and emotions effectively turned off. It was the living God, who I didn’t even think I believed in at the time. It was the kind of experience that makes you believe. I was changed in an instant and I’ve not been the same since. It sounds crazy but I could keep a straight face and call it miraculous. It was a miracle. I’m almost 17 years in and I still get off on the clarity.

connections-by-seth-moses-millerOn May 11th Columbus OH’s lo-fi power pop concern, Connections will return with their 4th LP, Foreign Affairs on Trouble In Mind Records. Which follows 2016 nearly flawless Midnight Run album. For those unfamiliar, Connections have been churning out high caliber and fuzz covered indie pop for the better part of the last six years and the brand new track Isle Insane is no exception. If anything the new track shows the Ohio quintet refining their sound with even bigger hooks and razor sharp melodies with former 84 Nash members Andy Hampel and Kevin Elliott leading the charge.

We recently spoke with Connections’ bassist, Phillip Kim to gain some insight into the bands creative process and their recent signing to Trouble in Mind Records.

“The creative process is pretty much the same as the other albums. Andy (Hampel) brought new songs to practice directly after we finished Midnight Run. For whatever reason, we labored over them much longer this time. We went back to the legendary Musicol recording studios with this one and worked with Keith Hanlon. Great place, great vibe, good time. We were lucky to have Sharon Udoh from Counterfeit Madison contribute some piano/organ, and it was an absolute thrill to have the great Marcy Mays of Scrawl sing on a couple of the songs.”

“We’re not even sure how the signing with Trouble In Mind happened, Kevin has been in correspondence with Trouble In Mind’s, Bill Roe for years. He always sends Kevin nice care packages of new releases. Somewhere along the way he realized Kevin was in Connections, or Kevin solicited the last album to Bill. Either/or, Bill and Lisa were excited to hear that we had another record on the way and offered to put it out.”
Philip Kim – Connections

Connections will be out on the road in support of Foreign Affairs which will include some dates with Kurt Vile and The Violators with a road trip worthy show at College Street Music Hall in New Haven, CT on June 15th.

Embrace the dual guitar jangle and literal hookfest of Isle Insane below.

Photo Credit: Seth Moses Miller

space gunHow does a writer stay objective when tackling the latest recording from an artist that he’s been passionately following for over 20 years? It’s arduous task no doubt, especially with the singular work ethic and output of Robert Pollard, but one I’ll happily embrace. Whether you are an obsessive that collects original pressings of Acid Ranch, Nightwalker, and Cash Rivers or merely a fan of the mid-90’s trifecta of Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Under The Bushes, Under The Stars this latest collection requires your immediate and uninterrupted attention. The material found on Space Gun equates to one of Pollard’s best outings in recent memory and one that can sit proudly next to the band most revered recordings. A logical and exhilarating next step to last year’s How Do You Spell Heaven? and August By Cake.

With the news of Space Gun, also came the caveat that this would be the only Guided By Voices album released in 2018, a newsworthy event unto itself. Over past month or so, I have had the opportunity to really dig in to this LP and that decision seems warranted and necessary. It’s fair to assume that Bob has another album in the can but it’s telling that instead of rolling into his next side project or another GBV release he is exhibiting restraint to give the songs that occupy Space Gun their due. I recall reading that Matador had tried and failed to temper Bob’s release schedule during GBV’s 90’s stint with the label, I guess that goes to show us all, that only Bob can hold back the flood.

Normally on first exposure to a Pollard related release there are those tracks that jump out immediately and then there are the growers that slowly unveil themselves over repeated listening. With Space Gun nearly every song has immediate charms and considerable hooks. The album opens with the sound of an automatic hand towel dispenser before chiming guitars and strong rhythms take hold while Pollard delivers a commanding vocal on the title track and drives the four minute song headlong to a glorious conclusion with the refrain “ all day long…”. From there the album is off and running at a brisk pace before slowing slightly at the blissfully melodic and hook laden Ark Technician. The current lineup of Guided By Voices is a formidable one to say the least and they provide varied and charging instrumentation to accompany one of Pollard’s finest songs cycles. On Liar’s Box Pollard delivers in my estimation a standout on album full of standouts. A song that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on Universal Truths and Cycles or Earthquake Glue. The track begins with angular guitar lines, throbbing bass, and pounding drums before Pollard steals the show with a soaring chorus that proves to be the LP’s most euphoric moment, only to be heightened by a sensational closing guitar coda from Doug Gillard and Bobby Bare Jr. On Sport Component National GBV delivers a 3 part rock opera that distills Bob’s prog, psych and pop leanings beautifully into a 3 minute fist pumping anthem. Then comes That’s Good, a track that first came to light on GBV’s Suitcase 3 in its skeletal form, but on Space Gun the track is given the full band treatment complete with strings and the results are staggering. To my ears, the melancholy drenched track is a distant cousin to the GBV classic If We Wait with immaculate production, courtesy of Travis Harrison. Throughout this LP, Pollard leads this incarnation of GBV through a varied and exhilarating 15 songs in 39 minutes, but not a second is wasted. Space Gun is a herculean rock record that is equal parts power and beauty from the unparalleled creative force of Robert Pollard.

Order Space Gun from Rockathon

ThaliaTomorrow night we will have the distinct pleasure of presenting a St. Patrick’s Day/post-snowpocalypse rock show in Providence that Michael Marotta of Vanyaland recently quipped “This lineup reads like a SXSW poster crudely taped to a street pole on 6th Street, but one need to not travel to Austin to feel the warmth.” Among the artists on our short list to approach for this event was Thalia Zedek’s visceral post-punk outfit E. I’ve been keenly following along with Zedek’s uncompromising career for the better part of three decades, so I was beyond thrilled to learn that E would be joining the festivities and performing the evenings closing set. Just last night I had the opportunity to chat with Thalia about the forthcoming 2nd full length, the collaborative approach of E, and a recent pairing with Damon & Naomi.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: What can you tell us about the forthcoming LP from your latest project E?

Thalia Zedek: It was recorded at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket with Seth Manchester after an extremely long European tour for our first record. We had written a bunch more songs because you can’t go on tour with only 10 songs or you’ll drive yourselves crazy! The rest of the songs we wrote just after we got back so some of the songs were really well rehearsed and some were almost brand new.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: What was the process that led up to heading into Machines With Magnets to record the new album?

Thalia Zedek: The usual. Practice as much as possible before you go in and then try to finish the recording as quickly as you can. I think the whole recording and mixing process took about 4 and a half days. But a lot of that was because Seth is such an excellent engineer and producer and so fast with edits etc.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: When you’re writing new material how do you decide if you will assign it to the next E album or to Thalia Zedek Band?

Thalia: It’s a totally different process because E generally writes collaboratively and simultaneously with each other. But once in a while I will come up with something while noodling and know that it should go to E. Often it’s in the key of E!

The AGP: You recently returned from a trip overseas where you played some shows with Damon and Naomi, how did that pairing come about?

Thalia: We kept running into each other at shows and I’ve always been a big fan of their music. Naomi makes music videos so initially we got together to discuss her making a music video for me. But the timing for that ended up being all wrong, so we ended up just hanging out and talking about touring. It turned out that we had worked with a lot of the same people so I asked if they would ever want to do a tour together. I’d been wanting to do some solo shows in Europe but also wanted the companionship of touring with people that I knew and liked. It so happened that Damon had just published a book called The New Analog so the timing was good for them as well.

: How were the crowds in Europe this time around?

Thalia: They were really great. It was perfect actually because the crowds were usually about double what either of us would get on our own which is what we had hoped for.

The AGP: With a storied career like you’ve had with Uzi, Live Skull, and Come others may rest on their laurels, but you seem to keep pushing your craft. What continues to motivate you to start up new projects like E?

Thalia: It’s what I love to do and it makes me happy. I tried taking some time off once and I was miserable!

The AGP: What is the one thing that people don’t know about you, but probably should?

: I like to have a good time!

The Ash Proclamation Presents:E/Minibeast/Bad History Month/Soft Fangs/Baby!/Lost Film @ AS220 March 17th 7:30- $12 Event Details

If you’re inclined to save $2.00 and get a free comp visit our Bandcamp site.
Advance ticket & the six song compilation Upon Arrival
March 17 Flyer
*Event flyer created by the talents of Mike Quigley

the_thermals-more_parts_per_million-frontal1 This week marks the 15th anniversary of the release of More Parts Per Million, the debut LP, from Portland, OR’s power pop titans, The Thermals. More Parts Per Million is an album that hit me squarely between the eyes with  heaps of lo-fi charm and gigantic pop hooks. In the early aughts we lived in time where the CD was still king. I can’t say I miss that audio format in the least, but I do tend to miss the ritual of excitedly making a b-line to my local record shop after reading review or hearing the last 30 seconds of a song on my  favorite college radio station to hunt down a copy, but I digress. I have a crystal clear memory of the first time I heard The Thermals debut LP. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of my nearby Newbury Comics when the opening chords of It’s Trivia came crackling out of my car speakers and I was instantly taken by that track and everything that followed, including the skuzz pop masterstroke, No Culture Icons. The songs that occupy More Parts Per Million feel off the cuff, full of energy and vitriol. It’s no wonder the album still sounds as fervent and vibrant today as did when it was recorded.

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of catching up with Hutch Harris to chat about his bands debut LP turning 15, the songs he’s written for a future solo release, and the eventual retirement of The Thermals.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Can you tell us a little bit about the songwriting/recording process for the ended up being included on your debut?

Hutch Harris: All of the songs on More Parts Per Million were each written and recorded in one day. I would write a song on guitar and record it to a click track on my 4 track cassette. I would then track drums and bass. Then I’d sit on my porch and write lyrics, then track the vocals in 3-4 takes. By the end of the day I’d have a finished recording. It was a very satisfying process.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: Did you have a specific vision for More Parts Per Million? If so how did you go about achieving that?

Hutch Harris: I wanted something that was very immediate. Kathy and I had just spent a year working on the Hutch and Kathy record. I wanted to make a record quickly without thinking too much about it. And I wanted to do something that sounded like The Ramones.
thermals hug
The Ash Gray Proclamation: When’s the last time you listened to the LP?

Hutch Harris: Many years! I don’t listen to our records very much. I would rather work on something new.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: How do you feel the album has stood up over the past 15 years?

: Judging by the amount of attention and love it is now receiving, 15 years later, I feel like it has stood the test of time very well! That makes me feel very fulfilled.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: What is the first thing you think of when you hear No Culture Icons?

Hutch: The filthy one-bedroom house where I lived and recorded the record in 2002. I called it the Moss Motel as it was covered in moss and sinking into the dirt. It was demolished not long after I moved out in 2005.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: The How do you feel the band has evolved since releasing that album?

Hutch: I think we started evolving immediately after we released More Parts Per Million. If you record your first LP on a 4 track you have nowhere to go but up! 15 years in, I feel like we have taken the band as far as we can, and I think we should end it soon.

The Ash Gray Proclamation: So, with that news is it safe to say you are not writing the next or final Thermals LP?

Hutch: Not at all! I don’t think we need to make any more records. I have been working on some solo stuff.

The Ash Gray Proclamation
: Can you tell us a little bit more about these solo recordings?

Hutch: I am taking my time but will be releasing a solo record eventually!Kathy is currently working on the first LP for her new band Roseblood. It sounds amazing so far!

The Ash Gray Proclamation: How has the current administration affecting your songwriting and everyday life?

Hutch: It has of course affected my life, but I’m trying to not let it affect my songwriting. I have been writing very personal, apolitical songs. I’m not going to be writing any songs about the evil idiot in the white house. He gets enough attention already.

The Ash Gray Proclamation
: I have read that you have been working with other bands as an audio engineer/producer. Are there characteristics you look for in before agreeing to these recording projects?

Hutch: When I produce other projects I am looking for bands that are passionate about what they do, no matter their age or level of skill. So far I’ve found that in every band I’ve worked with! I love making records and I love helping bands make the records they want to make. I feel very lucky that I get to do it for a living.

More Parts Per Million can be ordered through Sub-Pop
The Ash Gray Proclamation’s 10 Questions With Hutch Harris – 2009.

bentonEver since discovering the criminally underappreciated Spook Houses in 2011, I have paid close attention to the output of that bands driving force, Dave Benton. Although Spook Houses were relatively short lived over past handful of years Benton has simultaneously run the estimable New York label, Double Double Whammy  and issued a string of superb releases, with both LVL UP as well as his solo vehicle, Trace Mountains. On March 30th Benton will issue the first proper full length under Trace Mountains with, A Partner to Lean On through Figure 2 Rc.

I recently had the chance to chat with Dave Benton to discuss the creative process the led to A Partner To Lean On and the 3rd and the albums 3rd and final single , Salty Sweet.

I began recording some of the songs at home last year. Cary’s Dreams & Turn Twice came together first as bedroom recordings and informed the tone of the record. In the summer, my collaborator Jim Hill and I were able to get together with Kyle Seely & Nick Corbo to track drums & bass at Gravesend in Brooklyn. The rest of the recording was done pretty much alone at home. It came together pretty quickly.

I’m constantly writing, but not much of what I write makes it much further than little home recorded demos that no one ever hears. Often times these songs are chopped up & recycled into other tracks that may or may not make it onto a record. A Partner to Lean On recycles a lot of my older songs that I felt weren’t fully realized. I wanted to go back to that material not only to see it through, but also to save some newer material for future records.

I’d known that I wanted to redo Salty Sweet for a while and had a bunch of counter melodies to add in. The structure of the song is exactly the same, just a bit tighter and informed by the performative talents of Kyle & Nick.

Trace Mountains will be on the road to support the new set next month with a stop in Allston on April 9th.

Tour Dates:
03/31 Brooklyn, NY @ Alphaville *
04/06 Washington, DC @ DC9
04/07 Philadelphia, PA @ The Sound Hole
04/08 New Paltz, NY @ Nachohouse
04/09 Boston, MA @ Great Scott
04/10 Montréal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo
04/11 Toronto, ON @ Burdock
04/12 Rochester, NY @ Small World Books
* w/ Operator Music Band & Spirit Was

Photo Credit: Susannah Cutler