GHOSTS OF CIVIL DEAD Dead Confederate

Georgia rockers are a good kind of throwback.

 

BY ANDY TENNILLE

 

There’s something primal and frightening about Dead
Confederate that’s been lost in American popular music in the 21st Century. It dates back to Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and the darkest moments of Crazy
Horse and runs completely antithetical to the hip-hop poseurs, talentless
celebritards and saccharine fluff that dominate today’s radio dial – because
it’s real. It’s sweaty, scary and probably smells like shit. But that’s because
it’s ridden 10 hours in a battered 1984 Econoline van from Houston fueled on
truck-stop food and little sleep and just wants to get back onstage and rock.
Or in the case of Wrecking Ball, the
Athens, Georgia quartet’s new album on TAO/Razor & Tie, holing up in a
single hotel room in Austin, Texas together for a month to record their
full-length debut.

 

“It was pretty tight quarters, so we really didn’t want to
spend a lot of time there,” says frontman Hardy Morris. “Our producer, Mike
McCarthy, had rented this little shack that was once used by Trail of Dead for
practice space. We locked ourselves down in that old studio and just played.”

 

The ten tracks on Wrecking
Ball
build on the riveting intensity of the band’s five-song EP released
last year and are brought to a obsidian shine with the help of McCarthy, longtime
producer to Spoon and …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead as well as the
man at the helm for Patty Griffin’s 2007 release, Children Running Through.

 

 “Mike’s got a lot of
patience because he’s nitpicky about the sounds he wants. He’ll tune the drums
between every take if he needs to,” says bassist and co-songwriter Brantley
Senn. “His process is really focused on getting the right tones for the song.
Most of the recording situations we’ve been involved in the past have been just
set up and play, but Mike really pushed us to focus on the elements of each
song, and I think we all learned a lot about the patience involved in the art
of recording.”

 

McCarthy’s meticulous ear and commitment to vintage
recording equipment (“He didn’t have a piece of gear in there built after 1972,
pretty much,” Senn reports) gels well with the primitive tendencies of Dead
Confederate on Wrecking Ball, a
confident return to an era in music when black lights were en vogue and vinyl
gatefolds were used to sort seeds and stems.

 

“That was important to us ‘cause we’re all vinyl listeners,
including Mike,” Senn says. “He looked over at me one day while we were in the
studio in the middle of making the record and said, ‘This thing is coming out
on vinyl, isn’t it?’ I told him I thought it was, and he was like, ‘It better
be! We’re not gonna finish this album unless they tell you it’s coming out on
vinyl.’ I called the next day to make sure. We’re all excited to drop the
needle on our own record. It’s gonna be huge. We’ve been wanting that our whole
lives.”

 

 

[Photo Credit: Skylar Reeves]

 

 

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