In The Studio with Dikembe

September 26, 2013
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Reunited in their native Gainesville, Florida, Dikembe, one of our 100 Bands You Need To Know in 2013, are putting the finishing touches on their sophomore album. Frontman Steven Gray caught up with AP to bring us up to speed.

Interview: Brian Kraus

Where are you guys with recording?
We finished all of the instruments; we're just working on vocals now. We technically finished vocals last week, but we're back to add harmonies and extra little stuff, feedback things, the icing on the cake.

Are you a perfectionist when it comes to your takes?
It's actually funny because on the last record, we recorded that one ourselves, and I feel like we were really nitpicky about everything. On this one, we did the music live, so there are little mistakes we have left in. We're definitely not perfectionists on this record.

You didn't do vocals live though, right?
We didn't do the vocals at the same time. We went in and did those the next day, and have been going section-by-section just to make sure we get them correct. I guess we're perfectionists when it comes to vocals, maybe? [Laughs.]

Had you been to the studio you’re recording in before this album?
When we did the music, we went into a real studio in Gainesville called Crescendo. The last couple records we did were recorded in our drummer's bedroom. This time we have a new bass player, and he's friends with the guy who runs Crescendo. He was just talking to him, and he offered us a really good deal to come in and be the first band at a new space. Not only had we never recorded there before, I don't think any band had recorded there before. We were putting soundproofing on the walls before we started.

What was the idea behind this move? Did you want to go a little bit more “pro” with it?
On the last record, we spent so long mixing and going back and using all this extra time we had because we were doing it ourselves and weren't on the clock. By the time that record came out, we were fuckin' sick of it! We just listened so many times. This time we just wanted it to be…fresher. We still want to like the record when it comes out, so we had somebody else handle all the shitty parts of recording.

Does that mean there's a strict timetable for getting it done?
We've set a goal for oursleves to finish it as soon as possible, but Tiny Engines has been really, really lenient with us. They know I live in a different city than the rest of the guys and have a full-time job. They understand that it takes us a little longer to do stuff than other bands. They dont really give us a strict timetable. We're trying to finish it, because like I said, we want to like it when it comes out; we don't want to be sick of it.

Is that one of the reasons you're sticking with Tiny Engines? Some bands label hop as if it's a bar crawl.
[Laughs.] They were the first label to show interest in us. We're friends with Will [Miller] and Chuck [Daley]. It's like a friend relationship, not a business relationship.  They let us take our time and they provide feedback that's actually critical. They're not afraid to tell us if something sucks—even though they've never done that before. I feel like if we gave them something they weren't happy with they would be like, “Hey, we're not happy with this.” It's an honest, friendly relationship with that label. I don't think we wanna go with anyone else at this point.

How many songs are making this record?
We have 10 recorded for it.

So it doesn't sound like you're going to release a single and non-album track beforehand?
Actually, Will just texted me the other day about maybe doing that. We have another song that we wrote and demoed, we just decided that it didn't fit with the rest of the record. He was like, “Hey, do you wanna record that B-side and maybe throw it on a 7-inch with a single before the release?” So that's something we're talking about possibly doing. We have a couple of splits in the works, too, with friends of ours. So if we don't end up doing a single, we can just use that song for a split with somebody else.

Do you have a name for the album?
We're playing around with names at this point. Originally we wanted to call it Medium Ship, but I don't know if that’s sticking.

Some bands just try to be funny in the song titles, like those labelmates of yours, Look Mexico.
We got that a lot with the last record, cause it had a theme of what wrestlers say in movies, and we thought it was fucking hilarious. But everybody was like, “Uh, you know Look Mexico did that already, right?” We're still playing around with the song titles. We never really cared what the songs were called, so it makes it easy to go in and call it whatever the fuck we feel like at that moment.

Do you have a theme for the lyrics or is each song from a different place and time?
Yeah, with the last few they really had a theme…growing up, things like that, but with this one, each song kind of represents where I was when I wrote that song, which is cool. I had more fun doing it this time. I didn't feel like I had any sort of contraints like, “Oh, does this song fit with every other one?” I'm more happy with this record lyrically because I didn't really limit myself to anything.

You've got the Fest coming up in October, then after are you trying to get this record out?
I think it will come out early next year, becase Tiny Engines is releasing so many things currently, there's already a queue. [Laughs.]

I'll cross it off my Christmas list.
Yeah, I think it's going to be an early-2014 type deal. But we're gonna try to hit the road again this winter. We haven't gone west before, so I think we'll try to head towards Texas.

Winter's a golden window for you to tour?
Basically anytime there's a break in school, we try and tour as much as we can possibly fill. I remember the last winter tour we did, we came back on a Sunday and I was back to work [as a teacher] on Monday morning. It was pretty wild.

Yeah, but you probably had a better vacation than the students.
[Laughs.] Yeah, I definitely did. 

Written by Brian Kraus