When we heard there was a new HEALTH album in the works, we got pretty excited. Then we got straight on the email and fired the band's John Famiglietti a few questions about Get Color, due Summer 2009. He's what he wrote back...
What can you tell us about the direction the new songs are going in?
I think a universal trend is that all the new songs are longer and feature more repetition. Several tracks are very groove based. There will be a few surprises - we bought a lot of new equipment!
Where did the album's title come from?
We stole it from a craft TV show. We were trying to find a new rock slogan.
We've heard you're recording straight to 2" tape rather than using a digital setup - why?
The sound. On tape, you can be as loud and abrasive as you want, and the more brutal it gets it just feels good to hear. On a computer that abrasive sound registers as a brittle spike, and even though it's the sound you want, it's terribly annoying when it comes out of the stereo, which makes it really hard for these songs to translate on record properly, half the time recording the last record was spent fixing the sounds to work out of a stereo as a listening experience. With tape we can make it more brutal and much more gratifying at the same time.
Does that mean you weren't entirely happy with how the first record sounded?
Yes and no. Overall, we were very happy with the sound, self-recording it. We were extremely surprised and pleased with how it came out. But we feel there were endless shortcomings to the production - tons of songs connected very differently on the record than live (some of this due to The Smell's 'rounding' effect on sound). We definitely want a bigger, more direct sound on the new record.
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What lessons do you think you learned making the first album the way you did?
Oh god, endless lessons, mostly about recording itself. It was great, but now that we have the experience we feel comfortable working with somebody this time, and we know how to communicate what we want, since we know what's possible.
When did the writing for the new album start?
We've been writing during any time off between tours, literally every day. Nearly all the songs have been written the month and a half we've been back from the last tour. Until a month ago, we only had four new songs (haven't had much time off this year!).
How does the songwriting process in HEALTH generally work?
Everything is written together. For this album, there's been more individual writing than usual, mostly for time's sake, but any idea is completely dismantled once it gets to the four. Songs are usually written on paper in words, dictated to the band and we work through it. We've been trying to incorporate the computer more to speed up the process, so you can listen to a rudimentary idea instead of read it.
Do you plan on testing the songs in a live environment before committing them to tape?
As much as we can, we're playing half the new record on this tour [the band support Of Montreal in the US at the end of the month]. I really wish we could test them all, it's the only way to feel comfortable with them and figure out if it's connecting with people. We're very scared about a lot of these songs not being tested live... we might book a local show before recording again.
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How much recording has been done at present?
We've only recorded a day, to see how it was going to be working with tape and if we could get the right sound in the studio. The Nine Inch Nails tour completely derailed the original schedule. We begin for real in December.
Was it fun touring with Nine Inch Nails? Did you get pick up any advice from Mr Reznor?
The NIN tour was awesome, totally different from anything we've done. We played with a giant half million dollar LED screen behind us, and were playing through one of the most expensive PAs in the world. Trent's only advice was "keep it real" - he's an extremely down-to-earth guy!
Tour photos © Jake Lovepump. Get Color is set for a summer 2009 release on Lovepump United. There are also plans afoot for a limited edition 12" of live recordings made during the Nine Inch Nails tour. Watch this space...