Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Morning Benders interview with Chris Chu and Joe Ferrell

The Morning Benders will storm Southern California to coincide with the release of their debut LP "Talking Through Tin Cans" by stopping by the Echo this Thursday May 8th. If you purchase the album through their website, you can get a free ticket to their show as well as assorted b-sides and goodies. I managed to sit down on a windy afternoon and ask Chris Chu (Vocals/Guitars) and Joe Ferrell (Guitars) some questions about their album and tour with The Kooks.

AC: Congratulations on the upcoming release of the album. I was impressed that Chris is credited for producing, engineering, and mixing the album. Was it difficult wearing that many hats?

CC: It was a lot of running around. Especially when I was working on my own parts. When I was tracking I would move microphones around and play something and then run into the control room. It was a busy experience.

AC: Is it something you would want to do again?

CC: I think I probably will always have some input. I would like to have someone else do certain parts of it. A lot of the time I am trying to find a sound. It is distracting when you are turning knobs and find something that is interesting as well.

AC: I guess it is hard to rope yourself in at points?

CC: Exactly. It would be nice to focus on the aspect of playing versus turning knobs.

AC: I loved the way you recorded the drums as well. Everything is very representative of your live sound. One of the other things is that there is a lot of acoustic guitars on the album. Is that something you would bring to the live show?

CC: We have been thinking about that for certain songs.

JF: It is difficult to get a good acoustic sound.

CC: It is really hard. It is sort of a struggle for everyone to get a good acoustic sound. It never sounds like you are playing naturally. The process of recording and performing is different so it is nice to have the versions we do in the studio versus what we do live.

AC: Since both of you play electric guitars the live show is definitely punchy. I have seen you seven times and I have witnessed the progression and growth of your songs.

CC: I am glad it hits you like that. You get two different versions of the songs.

AC: What are some of your favorite guitar pedals to use?

CC: Good question.

JF: I have this Boss Blues Driver that is Keeley modified.

AC: You also have #1 echo?

CC: I love the #1 echo. Joe is thinking of getting one and I want another!

AC: Davey from We Barbarians recently got a #1 Echo.

CC: He got it after he saw us! Davey also uses a Holy Grail Reverb and I have been thinking of getting a Deluxe Holy Grail Reverb. It has more reverb settings.

AC: What was your first concert you attended?

CC: Elliott Smith at the Henry Fonda.

JF: One of my friend's band in high school. I also remember seeing Black Heart Procession.

AC: Did you use analog tape when recording the album?

CC: It was pretty much all analog. We did some stuff on Pro Tools when we switched studios. The majority though was on tape.

AC: Did you have any formal training?

CC: Pretty much self taught but I also learned a lot from the guy who hired me in the studio cause I was assisting him on a few things for awhile leading up to the recording of it. He is a great resource.

AC: If you could tour with any four bands who would you tour with and why?

CC: Radiohead.

JF: Beach House.

CC: Grizzly Bear and Neil Young.

AC: I loved the B-side you did "Your Dark Side". I kinda see why you didn't put it on the album but I still think it holds up very well. It doesn't really fit the album but its a good song.

CC: We almost put it on the album as the last track before we did "When we're apart" which was a last minute thing. We felt it really didn't fit. All the b-sides sorta have a different feel to them and we have 6 or 7 that are not on the album. They were written at the same time as the album tracks but it was apparent that they were from a different family of songs. It is a different side not necessarily where we are going. We have written a lot of new songs lately that are very much in a new direction.

AC: I saw when you covered New Order that you have a lot different influences and there is potential to morph your sound from album to album.

CC: We are into the idea of not making the same album twice.

AC: Tim (Bass) did a great job at the show at the Detroit Bar. How did you meet up with him?

JF: We went to school with him.

CC: He is a friend of ours for awhile. We met him through Berkeley. I took a couple of music classes with him. I didn't know he played bass. I asked him if he knew anybody who played bass and he said he played bass. He is very musical overall.

AC: Do you have any other cover songs stashed away?

CC: I don't know which ones we will play on tour. We recorded 4 or 5 songs that we posted on our blog. We have another 4 or 5 that we are saving for later. We could probably do a covers album.

AC: How does the songwriting process work for you guys?

JF: Chris writes the core of the song. Writes out a demo with the melodies and records it. The band will take it in whatever direction we see fit.

AC: Do you write songs on the road?

CC: I will bring the acoustic guitar on this tour.

AC: Do you have a Pro Tools setup?

CC: No. Garageband is really good. I will just use the internal mic on the laptop.

AC: Do you think the cycle of album release followed by a tour will be something you look to break out of?

CC: That is one of the things I really liked about +1 records. They work with a lot of band from the UK. The industry is a lot different other there. It is a lot faster. It is one of the things they are inspired by. Hopefully we can get in the studio later this year and have an album out next year.

AC: The Morning Benders wouldn't be around if it wasn't for which four albums?

CC: I'm going to go with four tried and trues. Beach Boys "Pet Sounds". The Beatles "White Album"."On The Beach" by Neil Young. Bob Dylan "Highway 61".

AC: When you recorded the album did you use the same guitars that you use live? Did you have some stashed away vintage '62 Fender Stratocaster?

CC: I wish. We used a lot of different amps. A lot of the guitars that I played were out of this old blackface Fender Deluxe. It is why I got a Fender Deluxe.

JF: We did some guitars through Leslie rotating speakers.

AC: Really? Which tracks?

JF: "Patient, Patient" and "Crosseyed"

CC: It is pretty distinct when you listen for it.

AC: Thanks again for taking the time out for the interview. I will see you guys at the Echo on May 8th.

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