Thursday, February 07, 2008
Mellowdrone Interview with Jonathan Bates
I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Jonathan Bates (Bass/Vocals) of Mellowdrone to talk about guitars, pedals, and live shows. I always suspected Mellowdrone was named after a Failure lyric from "Stuck On You" but had read that Jonathan created it in relation to Sparklehorse. My suspicions have been renewed by his answer to question #10. I will be at Spaceland on Valentine's Day to catch Mellowdrone in hopes of hearing some new tunes and digging deeper into the Failure mystery.
1. How has the change to three band members affected your songwriting process?
It hasn't really affected the songwriting process. Since each song starts off differently than before, our process by definition is constant change. How we play live and record now is drastically different. No more superfluous parts. Everything has to be succinct and have mass.
2. "Box" was very cinematic and densely layered. How is the new album coming along?
Luckily, i have no time limit this time around. So with this extra time, comes more life experiences to draw from. So i got into a bunch of trouble and figured my way out. Now its about finding sounds to represent those stories and references. Tony and I have spent months searching for the right tones and sounds. In other words, the album is coming along nicely, thank you for asking.
3. With the advent of home recording, What do you think the future holds for recording studios?
there will always be a need for a fully functioning recording studio. But just in drastically smaller numbers.
I personally prefer to work at home.
4. I braved the Chain Reaction in Anaheim to catch your show along with Monsters are Waiting and Modwheelmood and it looked like you guys were having a lot of fun on that tour. Any fond/or specific memories from the tour?
That night was one of them. I live in the same house as Andrew from Monsters, and Alessandro is a close friend, so that was just like skipping school for a couple of weeks. Everybody had the same fucked up sense of humor and along. Every show was a free for all. There was one venue where the power went out, so we all went out back and played dodgeball with whoever showed up. Sick timez.
5. I remember reading in the Future Sounds Magazine (RIP) that in the keyboard department you were using a MicroKorg and Casio SK-1(I have both also). Any additions to the keyboard arsenal?
We got a Fantom XR, but its turned out to be a bit too much. I love gear, but i hate complicated technology.
6. I loved your remix of "Delay Lama" on ModwheelMood's "Things Will Change". Any other remixes in the works?
Thanks. That was just pure fun. I love Alessandros songs, so again, it was like skipping school and getting into shit. I love remixing and always looking for new stuff. Its very liberating to work on other peoples music.
7. What are some of your favorite guitar pedals to record with? For your live shows?
Z Vex Octane pedal for my bass rig. Feels nice. Tonys rig is just ridiculous. He doesnt even sound like a guitar at times. I forgot what the pedal is called, but it makes him sound like a Spielbergian Spaceship.
8. What are some secret recording tricks that you employ in the studio?
The biggest trick is learning not to care about recording "the right way." If it sounds dope, i dont care how you did it. You can sometimes hide mediocrity behind studio tricks, but a great song will come through any kind of production.
9. When recording songs, at what point do you stop versus adding that extra track?
Thats a hard one. Until someone lays down a specific deadline, i may tinker on something indefinitely.
10. If you could tour with any 4 bands, Who would they be?
11. What were some of your favorite places to play in the U.S?
Places that are extra fun:
New York City - i love the way NY women dress. And not having to deal with cars. The claustrophobia is a rough one though.
Austin - wet hot american summers
Salt Lake City - some cool kids who arent afraid to give back at shows
Los Angeles - our home town. we get to sleep in our own beds.
12. What are some of more memorable concerts you have attended and/or performed at?
Queens of The Stone Age right before Songs for the Deaf came out. I think it was Coachella. They fucked everybody in the face with that shit.
13. What are some of your preferred guitars to use on tour and while recording?
Tony likes old guitars & shit. I prefer real cheap ones so that I dont have to think about whether it will break or not. I love craftsmanship, but having a fun show and being a guitar collector are two very different things. ya heard?