Standing Shadows debuted the conclusion to their Trilogy of EPs here on Rabbits Black last week. One By One witnesses the band taking on new heights of musical exploration and sound experimentation with producer Chris Goss at the helm. We sat down with Standing Shadows and talked about the latest EP, what it was like to record at Rancho de la Luna, and what’s coming up for Standing Shadows as they push forward in 2012. Check out the interview here with guitarist Dan Silver, singer Dave Miltenberger and Mike Greco and Michale Ascolese.
Rabbits Black (RB): How did you approach the songs on One By One differently than the previous two EPs?
Standing Shadows (SS): We really wanted to do something special with all three. The lead songs came from our recording sessions with Chris Goss, so we decided to add different b-sides to each EP. “Freakshow EP” which came out Oct 2011 included four electronic remix B-sides – “Just A Part Of Me (Tales From The War Garden) EP”, released Nov 2011, included 5 acoustic B-sides which was amazing to put together because we got a chance to re-record some of the older released songs – and then “One By One EP” we decided we should record some brand new songs….we ended up with two new favs that we’re really proud of called “Everything You Want” and “Find My Way”…and saved the best “One By One” for last…it makes for a complete concept for this EP. The other thing we did differently was we ran an exclusive contest with FILTER Magazine to host…fans submit photos of their shadows to be on the album cover and a chance to win an iPad2. We had amazing submissions which ended up on the collection of photos you see on the One By One cover. The concept is epic…we all come together one by one, one shadow at a time, to create and make something much bigger!
RB: How did you decide to work with Chris? Were his other projects an influence in your work (QOTSA)?
SS: We spent some time searching for the right producer for this project. Eventually I found a manager who represented several producers that were on our top list! We submitted to five initially…they all were interested but most weren’t available for months…the one’s that were all had great feedback, but I connected immediately with Goss’ feedback. He loved our use of distortion on vocals, our production style, and most importantly really felt he would work well with the vocals. From there we had one conversation on the phone and knew he was the right guy. We became immediate friends and within a few months we got together for the first few days of pre-production. Chris Goss’ history also certainly helped in the decision. I’m a fan of everything he’s been a part of and was excited to work with someone who’s got similar ideas.
Dan Silver (DAN): I wouldn’t say his other project directly influenced us in a major way because we have a sound that Goss embraced, yet took to the next level. With that said, we’re all big fans of Queens Of The Stone Age…and also UNKLE!! They’re incredible bands and have tasty elements that probably snuck their way into our sessions. How ever you look at it, there’s something to be said for the ‘desert sound’ when you record in Joshua Tree. There’s a ‘sound’ and quality that just simply comes with being out there and inherently influences the sound…I’m sure there’s similar influence to Goss’ other projects in that way. We embraced it all!
RB: How was it recording at Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree in the dead heat of late June last summer?
SS: At first it was blazing hot…and even when you thought you were getting used to it, it was still damn hot. The house is swamp cooled, so we sweated a lot. We had an amazing experience recording with Chris and Ethan at Rancho. We spent hours working out tones with some of the best vintage gear you can find…Silvertone amps…vintage yamaha guitars….vintage mics…every sweet synth and keyboard you can imagine….tons of guitars and pedals…
DAN: It was a spiritual place to work on music. The surroundings were basically desert and more desert, so it was completely quiet outside. You could really hear yourself think. Every moment recording was exciting as ideas kept flowing…Chris has a way of channeling you to create and do what you do best…there are layers in the recording that I can remember being so inspiring as we were recording….one day we laid down track after track after track it was tough to stop….some of my favorite moments were actually when we were just fooling around with gear and keyboards and playing strange ideas just for fun…i felt like every instrument we picked up we were writing a new song…The desert was pretty inspiring. One of the days Dave Catching insisted that David and I take his 70s Cutlass convertible for a drive through Joshua Tree….we spent the morning shooting footage, looking for rattlesnakes, and enjoying the amazing views and the bad-ass ride!
RB: We’ve met Dave a few times over the years, and he’s a great guy. We also know those guys like to have fun. Any other stories or fun things happen out at Rancho while you recorded?
SS: Borrowing Catching’s classic car! That was awesome. Dave, singer, and I spent some time searching for rattle snakes. Never found them, but we were destined to trap one. Also, Dave, singer, was keen to the motorbikes they had…there were some awesome trails…he took off at one point and we thought he’d come back mangled, but he survived. One of the most exciting moments was having Catching play on “One By One”…we encouraged everyone there to throw ideas out and feel free to play something…late one night while fixing everyone red beans and rice, Catching, leans in the conversation very politely and says…”I have a guitar line I can’t get out of my head…would it be okay to try it on this song?” Of course we were super excited and encouraged him to go for it! It was pretty amazing, because in five minutes he figured out a sweet guitar solo that I had been working on for hours. Then I added a dueling guitar line underneath…super cool! What an experience.
RB: This is the exciting end to the Trilogy of EPs, should we expect a full album soon?
SS: YES, but it may take some time to develop… We may release a super fan package first…compiling a lot from the EPs with more new songs, demos, live cuts, more remixes, and behind the scenes footage… Not sure which will happen first yet.
RB: Will Chris Goss be involved?
SS: We would love to have Goss involved. We’ve got the feelers out there…it’s all brewing…
RB: Can we expect more guest musicians?
SS: YES! We’re more and more experimenting with adding other musicians who can add by doing what they do best. After meeting Ysanne on our Indie 103.1 interview the other night, I hope she joins us on strings for the next recordings! She’s an unbelievable string arranger and player who’s worked with Smashing Pumpkins on several albums.
RB: Pick one song from each EP that old and new fans MUST listen to right now! Go for it!
DAN: That’s too tough (laughs)! Definitely hit the main singles “Freakshow”, “Just A Part Of Me”, “One By One.” BUT, if I had to choose the b-sides…
“Bright Lights” Grammar Remix, “Just A Part Of Me Pre-War Garden”, “Everything You Want”. I also love these just as much “We Are Everlasting” Silver Sessions Remix, “Struggle Of Our Lives War Garden Anthem”, “Fade Away Post War Garden”, “Find My Way”
RB: What’s next for Standing Shadows?
SS: Right now we’re spending time working on a few music videos that we’ll hopefully release in the next two months. Also, we’re working on our next tour announcement. To give you an idea, we’re putting together dates for a few weeks tour starting in March heading from Los Angeles to SXSW. Stay tuned for more!
RB: That’s a great story! You guys have done a few US tours, give us a good story from the road as well.
SS: Every night something crazy seems to happen…one time we played in Scottsdale and the venue happened to have a hotel next door. Knowing we wouldn’t have to drive the van that night we decided to go crazy and started to party. The night was hosted by the local radio station and they also decided to stay at the hotel so everyone could party and go wild. We ended up closing the bar and the radio guys decided to throw a party at the hotel and their room was across the walkway from reception. There were plenty of reasons to shut the party down…place was packed…loud music…tons of boose…. The party grew till it was overflowing out side. Some how a group of people ended up going by our room but made a ton of noise and pissed off another room. We were at the backside of the hotel. Of course we get shafted, because next thing you know, there’s six cop cars escorting us out of the hotel (laughs)!
RB: What bands are you getting your inspiration from for these EPs?
SS: tons of inspirational bands. we are all huge music lovers. bands like Arcade Fire, Radiohead, Interpol, Flaming Lips, of course the Beatles and Pink Floyd, Spiritualized….Air, Doves, Sigur Ros, Slowdive, Joy Division, Pixies, Verve, Velvet Underground… we are getting a little more into electronic stuff and i love the old Justice, Daft Punk, and Miike Snow stuff.
DAN: Dave went to the M83 show the other night! those guys are epic!
Dave Miltenberger: I was just at the m83 show last week at Club Nokia (which sucks as a venue — security there is a little too extreme), and got there a little late with no ticket. Tickets were all sold out, no re-entry (which means that you can’t do the ‘ticket swap’ trick), and no one had any extra tickets. I got kicked out of the ticket area, and finally found someone with a possible extra. I paid her (way too much money), finally got in and could not sneak into the pit, so I paid off the security guard to let me in! After the show I snuck up into the vip area and got to meet the lead singer Anthony for a while.
RB: Give our readers some bands they should check out.
DAN: There’s some cool local bands starting to break – Electric Flower, Vanaprasta, Shadow Shadow Shade, … Andy Clockwise…we played with Andy last year at SXSW, and he was awesome! we have never seen anyone pull off some of the shit he does onstage… we go back and see him every chance we get.