When Breather Resist frontman Steve Sindoni left the band in December 2005, the three remaining members contemplated their future. Then they immediately acted on it, restructuring themselves as a noisy three-piece that would pay debt to greats like Melvins and the Jesus Lizard. What resulted was YOUNG WIDOWS and their 2006 full-length on Jade Tree, Settle Down City. Two years later, the band retooled yet again–this time in their approach. They inked with Temporary Residence Limited (the Brooklyn label home to international post-rock stars Explosions In The Sky, Envy and Mono) and pieced together a sophomore full-length, Old Wounds from live sets and an eight-day studio session with famed metal/hardcore producer Kurt Ballou. Though their ugly and corrosive rock sound may be a blistered thumb on an outstretched Temp Res hand, it’s one that’s landed them gigs alongside bands as diverse as ALL, Modern Life Is War and Russian Circles. Brian Shultz recently spoke with vocalist/guitarist Evan Patterson about Old Wounds‘ hybrid moments, the relentless process of growing up and minimizing Internerding.
What was the intention behind compiling footage from both the live performances and the studio sessions?
It was more of an energy… In the studio, I feel like a lot of times you lose the live energy and the spontaneous, or almost improvisational energy that’s live. [We’d] kind of [been] trying to get that in every song, and certain songs we knew going into it they’d sound better in the studio. Certain songs, they’d be more of a live song. [It was to] have dynamics in the recording as well as dynamics in the songwriting.
Would you say an approach like this is easier than a standard single studio session or more difficult?
More difficult, definitely. The hardest part was probably mixing all [of] the sessions and then editing them together. It was kind of interesting–every night we would record our sets. It was four sets we recorded on tour. We’d get the recording that night and listen to it on the way to the next show. And that way was really nice because we actually had demos [in that sense] every night, so we got to hear the songs and go over it–actually change parts and work out all the kinks and perfect the songs–so that way the songs we knew we were going to be recording in the studio, we really do a lot with them. So all the sequencing and adding of songs, it all worked out really well. But it was definitely the most difficult recording I’ve ever done.
Are individual tracks a combination of live and studio?
Every song but one–there’s only one song that’s completely live. There are songs [that have] an intro from a live set, and it will [then switch to] studio [recording], and then towards the end, it cuts back into a live set from a different show. There’s actually a song that’s gonna be on a split 7-inch next year that we recorded [during] the same sessions, and the way it’s kinda set up is, the verses are live then it cuts to the studio on the chorus, then back out for next verse…
[On Old Wounds], there are certain songs that we did overdubs of live stuff, but we didn’t do any live stuff over studio stuff.
Who is that split going to be with?
There are gonna be four splits. We have three of the [bands] confirmed. It’s Bonnie Prince Billy, Melt-Banana and Pelican. We’re still trying to ask some really exciting artists that we always looked up to [for the fourth]. [But] just working with Melt-Banana and Bonnie Prince Billy in particular is really exciting. They’re some of our favorite artists and bands.
Are you planning a B-sides album or something of the sort with all of the leftover material or is that all going towards the splits?
It’s gonna go on the splits, but after [their release], a couple years down the road, we’ll put out all the B-side stuff on a 12-inch [compilation].
You recorded Settle Down City with Chris Owens, and looking at Breather Resist’s last few releases, it seems like that was the first time you hadn’t recorded with Kurt Ballou in a long time?
Yeah. [Breather Resist] recorded [2004’s] Charmer, the one on Jade Tree, with Kurt here in Louisville. And then whenever we changed names and started doing Young Widows, [we] kinda wanted to keep our budget lower. We [also] wanted to take our time, but in the long run I think staying home and taking our time was a little overwhelming.
[Recording Old Wounds], that was the first time I’ve actually recorded out-of-town. It was really a great experience. I think I’m always gonna want to record out-of-town after recording that record.
So Kurt would always come to you guys in Louisville, rather [than] you going up to Godcity [in Salem, Massachusetts].
Yeah. [Though] we’ve only actually recorded with him one other time on record. Chris, our friend from Lords, he has a cool studio in town and [to record, cost-wise] it’s nothing… Sometimes he just does it for free. He’ll let us come and demo our songs. [He] treats us well. So that’s really nice to have here. It’s just, when you’re home and you’re recording, the [details] of your daily life, they’re always there. When you go out-of-town, you can focus on the record. It really makes a huge difference to me.
What are some of the other advantages you found recording away from home?
The nicest thing is just waking up in the morning and being in the studio, and that’s your whole day. You don’t have to go home and make food, or you don’t have to be in a familiar area… You’re kind of in an unfamiliar area and that’s why you’re there. You have one thing to do. That’s it. That’s like the best thing about recording out-of-town; you can just focus completely on the record. Nothing else matters. That’s, to me, the main advantage. It was nice being there too, because obviously Kurt lives there and he treat us well and took us to awesome restaurants for awesome food. Besides the session being pretty rushed–we were only in the studio for eight days and didn’t start mixing until the sixth day, and we didn’t even finish mixing while we were there. He had to mix the record and send us samples. It was pretty chaotic. Beyond that, Massachusetts is a really relaxing place to be and kinda has a small-town thing going for being on the East Coast.
Was having to rush through the recording the only obstacle?
Being pressed for time is always [frustrating] when you’re recording, but at the same time you think about people who are making their living from playing music and they spend months and months and months recording their records. I feel like it loses the energy and they just overthink it and tear it apart to the point where the songs become boring or sterile. Granted, I probably would have liked two or three more days, but having pressure to finish is really important and kind of pushes you to do things you wouldn’t normally do.
Is there any significance behind the six-eyed skeleton head?
Not really, it’s just a good friend of mine’s [artwork]. He actually did the artwork on the Breather record [Charmer]–he drew the hands on that record. He’s just someone [whose art] I really love. I wish there was a way he could do more with it. He’s really talented and the first time I ever saw those skulls, he started drawing them and I just instantly [go], "Man, I have this idea for a record…" And if you see the CD, it’s kind of a weird cut where, when you look at it, it looks like one skull, then you fold a piece down [and] it becomes another skull… Then the LPs worked out great because we did the three different covers. It was all his artwork and I had the idea for the CD and LPs and it just worked out really well.
I’ve always been kind of attracted to skulls in artwork, especially music. It’s always been appealing to me. I don’t know why. [Laughs.]
Is there any reason the band’s blog hasn’t been updated in more than a year?
[Laughs.] That’s just because with the MySpace thing, I always kind of forget about the blog. I never look at blogs. I’m not really a sitting-on-the-computer kind of guy in any way. When I’m on the computer, it’s either to book a show or take a shirt order from Monkey Drive, or to e-mail a friend or something. I don’t really sit around on the internet and read a lot of blogs doing that. So it’s kind of one of those things that doesn’t really cross my mind.
I guess I should probably update it, huh? [Chuckles.]
Eh, maybe, if you want to count it as your official website so everyone doesn’t have to default to the MySpace.
Has being married for the second year of the band’s existence been any different than the first year?
I have to say, yeah, it does make a difference. Going on tour and booking shows and doing all this… I think it’s just getting older, really, is all it is. Buying a house and getting more responsible and growing up… A couple years ago, it was, "I didn’t care." "I don’t care if I make rent. I don’t care if I pay my bills. I hope I can, but…" At this point, I have to make sure that all that stuff is taken care of.
Do you think it’s going to slow down the band’s activity as time goes on?
Not really. I don’t really wanna be a full-time touring band. I have a really nice set-up where I work. I work at a screenprinting shop and I’ve been touring for the past six years and I’ve never once been threatened to lose my job. Everyone here is in a band, plays music, and we print T-shirts for Young Widows and Coliseum, all of our friends’ bands, who do a lot within the music scene that we’re involved with. So it works out really well.
I went on my first tour when I was 14, and took my first West Coast tour when I was 17. So I’ve been touring, I guess now, for a long time. Ten or 11 years.
I don’t think activity’s gonna slow down. The most I wanna tour, at the very, very most, would be three or four months out of the year. I really love when bands put out a record, [and] they tour for the record–a headlining tour–and then do a couple support tours, and [then] they take time off. The non-stop touring for me would burn me out and just push me in a direction where I’d be too dependent on the income of the band. I think it would stunt my artistic–maybe not ability, but…passion.
We’re not necessarily mainstream music. I feel like our bands have more of cult followings… I don’t see us getting, like, a radio hit or anything like that. Maybe it will happen. I have no idea. I have no insight, obviously, into that.
I don’t have any dream of being able to play music as my main source of living. I play music because I love creating art. alt