In The Studio: Pentimento
Buffalo, NY's PENTIMENTO have kept a high pulse rate since forming in 2010: releasing an EP and split with YOUNG ENGLISH (both out via PANIC RECORDS), constant touring and recently a trip to Europe. AltPress caught up with drummer Mike Hansen to check in about the band's debut full-length album.
Where are you guys recording? It seems like you've been quietly holed up for a while.
We're doing this record at our home away from home, GCR Studios in beautiful downtown Buffalo, NY with our good friend and engineer Jay Zubricky (EVERY TIME I DIE, KID GORGEOUS, I CAN SEE MOUNTAINS). PENTIMENTO has done all our past releases at GCR, and couldn't ask for a better environment to do our full-length. Jay, as well as the entire GCR family are all incredible people that make it extremely comfortable and really fun to be involved with GCR. Not to mention how insanely talented everyone there is, and all the brilliant people/artists/musicians you'll meet hanging around. That's what keeps us coming back.
What have you been doing to keep yourselves busy since the last tour?
We've been keeping as busy as possible in the studio working on this record. We started recording as soon as we came home from Europe in March, and we've essentially been locked in GCR since then. There's been a tour with DAYTRADER, and some really cool one-off shows mixed in there since beginning production on the record, but we've been focusing on ourselves in the studio for the most part. We've been tearing our hair out trying to make sure we can get this record as good as it possibly can be, so that's why we kind of stuck around home for the most part this summer. We all know that this full-length has to count, and that's what we've been working towards as much as humanly possible.
Having had the same members for the debut EP and split with YOUNG ENGLISH, is the studio process getting easier each time?
Absolutely. We're all able to click in the studio the same way we do at practice or live. It's never been an issue for us. We're so lucky to have consistent chemistry with one another, and I definitely feel like it's because it's always been the four of us.
What's the plan for supporting it?
Tour. Tour. Tour. Tour. Tour.
You're filming a music video for what I'm assuming is a new song, what's this going to be like?
That's right! We're actually in the process of choosing the single as we speak. We've asked for the help of as many friends as possible to make this video's concept work. Basically, the band will set up among a room full of lamps that will be brought in by our friends that are involved in the shoot. Throughout the video, they'll come in and turn their lamp on, making the room a bit brighter each time someone comes in. By the end, the entire room will be completely lit up, and we feel like that's a pretty good metaphor regarding our feelings for the people that are kind enough to support us.
PENTIMENTO is a band that has done a lot of recording and touring in a very little time. Does slowing your pace for the full-length process feel weird?
Yes and no. After a year of non-stop support for two releases, heavy US touring, heading to Europe, only to come home and find ourselves locked in a practice space to finish the writing process, heading to GCR to start laying the songs down, leaving that to tour Canada, and then all the one-off shows in between then and now...it's been wild to say the least. Having the opportunity to breathe has been nice, but the truth of the matter is that we're just as busy in the studio as we would be if we were on the road. It's a very different busy, though. I guess that's why it seems so odd. For as active as we are in the studio right now, we still get to work our jobs and sleep in our own beds at night, and that honestly feels weirder than being on tour.
How important has your engineer been for the album?
I know a lot of bands say something like this when referring to the people they work with on their records, but at the risk of sounding cliché—working with Jay Zubricky is like having a 5th member of the band. He's our brother. I don't think we could really imagine working with anyone but Jay. His knowledge of us as dudes and as a band creates this synergy that I don't think could be accomplished otherwise. Having the opportunity to work at GCR is incredible in itself, but being able to be there with Jay as our engineer is something we value more than anything. It's a multi-million dollar studio, owned by Robbie Takak of the GOO GOO DOLLS (who is a really fucking cool dude, by the way), with guys like B.O.B. or Lil' Wayne dropping in to lay down stuff. There's more equipment there than 10 Guitar Centers combined. The people we've met just by being at the studio is an entirely different thing of beauty, but the one thing that is special to us above all that is the fact that Jay really gives a shit about our band and helping us out in any way he possibly can. I could go on forever about why we feel so strongly about GCR, but I'd be willing to bet that our record will reflect just how much care went into the production by everyone involved. We're a tiny punk band from the city that's just trying to make our mark on the scene that we love. To have GCR and especially Jay Zubricky as part of our team is nothing short of a wind-fall.
The split songs saw a progression of production and songwriting—while keeping true to the original sound. Is that the direction this album is heading?
I certainly hope so! I think every artist concerns themselves with the idea of showing progression on all accounts, while staying in line with what put them there in the first place. We did our best to keep that in mind throughout the entire writing/recording process. Vocal choices, guitar tones, etc all had this tail on the end that was like "Is this what we would really do?" because we didn't want to go ahead and put out a record that sounded like anything other than PENTIMENTO. I'm not going to say that our record sounds like Wrecked, or the split, because that might be pigeonholing our effort on this release. But our goal is obviously to keep everyone who's supported the band since our past releases excited about the new stuff, while gaining new attention from different audiences who can find something to appreciate. In other-words, the soul of PENTIMENTO is clearly evident, but I think we've taken a couple steps forward as a band, and in production.
With something so detailed and complex as making and releasing a full-length, have there been any setbacks and disagreements?
Absolutely. I think that's what makes it easy to describe this whole thing as a "process." I think something we faced quite often (and this came from every band member) is practicing a song for a certain way for months, and then all the sudden someone decides to pipe-up and go "Uh, yeah...I hate this part the way it is." While that's frustrating sometimes, it's the best thing that could happen for the music because we're exploring different ideas, rather than sticking to something that could have very well been done better. Had we not taken those sorts of chances with the record, we might not be as excited about it as we are now.
The production originally wrapped about a month ago, but then I decided I had some material that was too important to me to not lay down for this record. I spent so much time debating on what to do, talking to the people who's opinions I value most, trying to make a case for why these new songs should be on the record. I was terrified that the rest of the band would be pissed because we'd just finished tracking, and going back in meant more time/more money, etc. I demoed them, took a deep breath, and brought it up to the guys at practice. To my surprise, they were really stoked on the idea and we got right to work. It was a major sigh of relief, but it was definitely an instance that's held up calling this record "finished."
Did you re-record any oldies or are these all new songs?
Originally we'd intended to bring on "The Bridge" for this release, and ended up doing so in a different way that we'd originally imagined. Instead of just doing a cut/paste from the version on the split with YOUNG ENGLISH, we did it acoustically and we're beyond stoked on how it came out. We'd also planned on doing a re-imagined version of song called "Lesson Learned" from our demo on this record, but we've decided to save that for a fun little release that we've got in the works for the future. alt