EXCLUSIVE NEW DOWNLOAD: Shout Out Out Out Out - How Do I Maintain Pt. II + Interview
The first track I ever heard from Edmonton sextet Shout Out Out Out Out was called "Dude, You Feel Electrical" and, truthfully, that kind of sums up their gig. A fully fleshed out dance band, with drums, bass, guitar, scores of keys, and vocals, SO4 sound like your best bar buddies discovered writing six-minute club epics was more fun than chugging out more power chords. And they do it well. Despite their size, the tracks don't come overloaded with fluff, and things are kept pretty punk with hard rubber bass riffs and relentlessly steady drums. "How Do I Maintain Pt. II" is from their upcoming album Reintegration Time (out May 5th), a disco track that moves through a few different passages, pointing out wiggly Moogs, distorted bass dueling, and a percussion break along the way. It's premiering below, but make sure to hit the break for a Q+A with SO4's Nik Kozub, who talks about putting together the song, making the record, and getting into dance music in snowy Edmonton.
Sounds like: The Juan MacLean, Death From Above 1979
How did you guys put together "How Do I Maintain?"
'How Do I Maintain' was actually the first song that we started working on in the studio for the new album. The idea stemmed from us wanting to showcase that while we are primarily making electronic music, we are also a live band that is essentially made up of a six man rhythm section. From the jump, we planned on making part 1 almost entirely electronic based, and part 2 almost entirely based around live instrumentation. Part 1 started with drum programming and a bunch of synth sequencing, followed by the vocoder hooks to solidify a form, followed by a few extra synth parts that Jaycie played. Before tracking any of the live drums, Lyle played bass along to a stripped down drum program to get ideas (we were referencing MJ's 'off the wall' for inspiration on the feel for Lyle's bass part), and once he had a few rad parts we cobbled together a form. Myself, Will, and Jason added our own bass parts to that, and then we had the drummers come in to play over the full 12 minute track (the final mix is a bit shorter). I wound up doing quite a bit of editing and changed around the form of both parts when I went to do the final mix, just to keep everything concise and have the parts flow together a bit more nicely while still keeping things interesting.
Is this similar to how the rest of the album was put together?
Yeah, pretty much. About 75% of the album was written in the studio, and the process generally involved myself and one or two of the other guys starting off with programming drums and sequencing synth parts, creating a basic form, then adding vocoder and more synth parts, then bringing in Will to play bass (he definitely handles the most bass duties this time around), and then the live drums. Usually the structure of the songs would develop and evolve as we went along, and once the drummers were on there went through everything and added stuff where it seemed like it needed something, editing out stuff that wasn't working for us, and streamlining any weirdness in the song structures. It was actually a pretty long process, we had only planned on being in the studio for 6 weeks, but by the end of it we had been in the studio from june until november, almost 6 months! It was a really fun and creative way to work on things though, and I'm quite happy with the results.
Why three years between records?
I don't know. I think maybe it was just because we didn't really expect that anyone would care when we put out the last album, and when it turned out that a lot of people actually did care we got kind of wrapped up in working that album for a long time. We've spent a lot of the past three years touring, and that often means that when we are at home we are scrambling to get our lives back in order and make some money and stuff. Between touring and trying to be a normal human being I guess we had a bit of trouble finding the time to also be actively writing and recording. About a year ago we realized that this was a problem and we made a dedicated effort to set aside some solid studio time to put together this new album. So really, we got the ball rolling (at least conceptually) after only two years, it just took the third year to come to fruition! I think that we all have a renewed enthusiasm about the band right now, it really was a great experience making this album. We have plans to stay much more active with writing and recording this time around, and hope to have a follow up EP tracked within the year.
Being a large group, is there the same kind of collaboration between everyone in the studio or is it a concentrated cluster of effort?
Everyone definitely has creative input, but not everyone is always in the studio at the same time. I think some things just kind of naturally settled into separated tasks between members. My so-called day job is recording and producing bands, and I spend a huge amount of my life in the studio staring at Pro Tools, so I wound up doing all the drum and midi sequencing because I'm pretty fast and proficient at that sort of thing. Lyle handled a lot of the synth sequencing that used hardware sequencers (he has this giant modular synth system that has a pretty great sequencer module, and we have a few acid-y parts that were best suited to Lyle's self-sequenced 303 clone). Like I said before, Will wound up playing bass on all the songs that have live bass, and he also did a bunch of crazy filtering and effects with his collection of Moogerfooger pedals. I played the vocoder, the drummers played the drums (Clint did all the auxiliary percussion). Jason played most of the little lead line synth parts, and myself, Jason, and Lyle all played some pad / string parts and the odd white noise burst or crazy sound (I also played some dubious Theremin parts). So yeah, I guess what I'm trying to say is that our collaboration kind of involved each of us settling into our own little role in the project. I was producing the album, but i tried not to be too overbearing and bossy, it was important that everyone was creatively represented.
How did you get into dance music in Edmonton?
It just kind of happened. We all come from a rock background. I think what happened was that we started listening to bands that had an electronic element (stuff like Trans-Am, Six Finger Satellite, Add n To x, etc), and our interest in the electronic side just snowballed until we were obsessively collecting analog synthesizers, DJing on a weekly basis and getting in really deep with house, techno, electro, whatever. I imagine that the same can be said for a lot of people, but the appearance of DFA records was a big catalyst for me. I felt like they were coming from a similar background as me, and they just seemed to capture everything that was beginning to interest me with dance music. I loved that there was always something slightly odd about the records they were producing and releasing, and everything they've done right up until now has always been interesting and genuine.
Any big plans for the rest of 2009?
Well, I guess we'll be trying to promote 'Reintegration Time' and touring a bit, and we want to keep up with writing new material. We all have a few projects on the side as well, I'm currently working on an album for my solo thing called The Paronomasiac, Will and Clint have started working on a new project together, Jason has been making music on his home Pro Tools setup, and Lyle plays in a few other bands (Whitsundays, The Wet Secrets, and Whitey Houston, which Gravy also plays in). We are pretty busy guys I guess, but it keeps things interesting.