It’s been just over 7 months since we raised successful funding for our new record. And quite a bit has happened since then. So if you can spare a few minutes, this update will walk you through the last 200 days. And if you can make it to the end, we’ll leave you with some clips from 7 songs on the album. **Hint, you could also scroll to the end and start playing the teaser audio now while you read. Might make for an emotional journey.
A running start.
We wrote “Be One of Us” and “Loosen the Bands” as a rock quartet—Fender Rhodes, electric guitar, bass guitar and drums. And then littered the song skeletons with programming. Which was drum machines and digital synths played with midi controllers. Super cheap, super fast. And after 5 years… we’re super over it. Super over that being how Metavari operates.
photo: Brad Ferrier
We started to build a sound whose skeletons didn’t rely on acoustic instruments. We didn’t count each other in and rock-out in a basement on a groove one of us had written the week before. As our lives evolve and our families grow, it gets harder to be that kind of a band. It gets harder to see each other. And harder to work in the same room. We need to be able to perform this material with as little as two people now. And for the most part, without live drums. Which is coming along swimmingly because a lot of the new material was written by just two people. And not because we’re compromising the sound. But because that’s the sound we’re now after. The studio and the stage are two different beasts. We’re tackling the first in a way we haven’t before. And loving it.
So what did we do 2 or 3 years ago when we needed a synth arpeggio or a sub bass? We looked to the libraries our software had out-of-the-box. Tweaked it, maybe even re-amped it.. and if we were lucky, it was unrecognizable by the time you heard it. But we didn’t have to work much for it.
This time the electronics are the stars of the show. We’ll be dammed if we’re gonna use anything out-of-the-box. We want to build the sounds we use… not by clicking the words “Ableton Acid Bass” in a sidebar or watching a YouTube tutorial titled “how to make sweet 80s riffs with Live 8.” We want to turn the knobs ourselves. We want to see the wave. And want nothing to come between you and the audio. We want it feel the same way to you as it did for us when we wrote it. Pure and warm. If it’s recognizable, it’s because it’s a real synthesizer that you may have heard in, say, a Tangerine Dream track ;). Not because you own the same software we do.
Then reality set in. How the hell are we about to start collecting everything we need? Where do we start? We own a Moog Prodigy and at the time were borrowing the Korg MS2000 and a Yamaha DX7. Aaaand, that just wasn’t gonna cut it. For the sake of keeping a few secrets in the making of this record, we won’t take you to the land of Oz ourselves but we’ll tell you this: We made a couple friends who we’ve paid a fraction of the cost of the physical equipment to record and supply us with a massive catalog of hi-res sounds from almost every synthesizer we’ve ever dreamed of owning. Raw waves we can tune and manipulate from within Ableton… modulating using LFO or a filter’s cutoff. Even multiple oscillators. And they were recorded in multiple octaves so that we aren’t grossly twisting these sounds from their original. It sounds like a whole lot of mumbo jumbo—and if you are a synth geek, this is probably the worst thing you’ve ever heard. Yes it’s blasphemous. But we wouldn’t be using it if we weren’t extremely happy with it. And the best part is that we can take these libraries with us on the road. Rather than taking a potential investment in thousands of dollars worth of physical equipment on the road. Sure it doesn’t look cool. But we’re not exactly cool dudes if you haven’t noticed. We just love making music.
So when it came time to ask for pledges to raise money for this record, it quickly became two needs… buying these new tools to make the sounds we’re after. And then the packaging.
If you browse through the kickstarter projects that bands are launching, you’ll quickly notice that the vast majority of them are simply to help package the record. The music is finished—or sometimes near finished with the exception of professional mixing or mastering—and the band is looking for pledges to help get their record packaged. But with ours, we hadn’t even started. We were literally one half-finished demo into the song writing process.
We guessed how long we’d need. We did our best to price the money we needed. And we fired the guns.
After processing fees.. it seemed like we blinked and you had given us $5,000 and the race was on. THANK YOU.
Summer of distractions.
We didn’t hesitate but to pay off Dorthy and the Tin Man, and we started working towards our first milemarker. 25 days after your gracious money was put into bags and delivered to us in heaping piles… we opened for Chicago post-rock legends, Tortoise.
April 25th: We debuted the first drafts of the first 20 minutes of new material opening for Tortoise.
photos: Evan Perigo
June 8-10: WMC Fest.
In June we were asked to play at an incredible design and music conference in Cleveland called Weapons of Mass Creation Fest. The 20 minutes of new material got widdled down to 15. Then it grew to 30. Then became 25 just in time for WMC… polished, practiced and ready for Cleveland. We’ll save you the sappy stories but in a few words, it was magical. Two months into the writing process and this was the single most encouraging moment for this new record. Nate also had the opportunity to speak about his artsy fartsy stuff at WMC Fest. Check out the talk here.
June 18: Kyle had a baby!
Rhys Steury. He’s a bundle of adorable baby goodness. Like staring into the eyes of a miniature Kyle… ready to conquer the earth with a good heart and a fiery passion. Kyle has had maybe 35 hours of sleep since July 18. And he’s somehow still productive.
July 14: Fulfilling one of our biggest pledges.
One of the largest pledges in our Kickstarter campaign was that we would play a one-off show in your hometown. A good friend from Philadelphia was gracious enough to make the pledge and invited us to play his wedding! One month after WMC Fest we drove to Philadelpia and played just about every song we have in our measly catalog.
September 17: Ty and his lovely lady got themselves engaged!
And took one of the best engagement photos we’ve ever seen.
Almost every weekend from October 2011 to now: Building the new studio!
Also known as…Nate and his girlfriend have been remodeling a house they gutted last Fall for over a year now. An unbelievable undertaking. When Nate and his girlfriend moved out of their last house, we lost our studio. And until the new (gutted) house is finished…our practice space is anywhere and everywhere we can make noise for a few minutes. Which usually ends up being at Nate’s office thanks to the fine people of One Lucky Guitar, Inc.
October 22: Andrew had a baby!
Spencer McComas. This little tike isn’t even a month old… between work, full-time school and now two little rugrats at the McComas household, “busy” isn’t even the half of it for Andrew and his wife. But are these rugrats adorable or what.
The album already!!
We currently have demos for every track on the new record. 10. Including a licensed Tears for Fears cover. We were hesitant to even tell you that much, so keep a tight lip… but yes, we’re reworking a song from Tears for Fears’ early 80’s catalog. We think it rounds out our track listing unbelievably well.
7 of the 10 songs are far enough along that we thought we’d compile a sort of demo-teaser to leave you with at the end of this long winded update. Please… send us your thoughts! All of em. I mean, if they’re critical we’ll ignore them, but we’d at least love to hear em! ;)
This is also proper timing to reveal that we are going to be incorporating guest vocals on this new record. In full—that news is for another update, but we’re unbelievably stoked to tell you that our friend and exceptionally talented designer, Chelsey Scheffe is lending her voice on a track. Check out her art and illustration at chelseyscheffe.com and if you haven’t already heard the vocals she’s done for Beat Connection or T|nes, by jove, make it happen!
And lastly, the album title. We’ll call this another perk of supporting a Kickstarter for a band who hadn’t actually started writing the record before they asked for money. We’ve changed the album title. “Gravity Is Still Everywhere” is great. We love what it implies. We love how it makes us feel. But we don’t think it describes where this material is headed. Synth collecting. The mathematics of sound. What the last 200 late nights have looked like.
The record we are working on is called, “Moonless.”
"Moonless" is currently slated to be mastered in Chicago the last week in December. Its release will be Spring 2013.
Alright, that’s just about it. Thanks again to all who supported financially and to everyone who has sent encouraging messages along the way as we plow through the heap of demos and outtakes. It feels like we’ve been working on this for an eternity. And it’s daunting to think of what’s still left. Send along your thoughts on some of these new demos!
Kisses and hugs,