[Editor's Note: This Weekly music feature highlights outtakes and personal stories from bands who just finished working their asses off to put out new music.]
Capturing the troubled psychosis of the Shrills on a record is no easy process. While plenty of new jack garage and indie acts see the recording process as a time to get riffs polished down to a science, this psych-punk outfit seems to be a magnet for mishaps, drunk follies and last-minute magic. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up their live show too. And translating that energy in the legendary Distillery recording studio in Costa Mesa involved more than a few potentially disastrous situations. After all, there's a reason why their debut record is called "Meltdown" (check out the album here). We recently took a few minutes to talk with members Dan Simmons and Zack Grimm about putting together this ungodly squall of sound (released on Nov. 16) and in turn they schooled us on how to make the fine art of chaotic, slap-dash, drunk recording sound way more intentional that it actually was.
On recording the title track:
Dan Simmons: We finished writing that a week before we went in the studio and Patrick [Tapia], our drummer. And I didn't even have it down perfect at all. At the end of the song, he had this idea of keeping the same drum beat, but then doubling the temp and making it this crazy sounding thing. We didn't think we were gonna be able to do it because every time we practiced it, we fucked it up. At first we figured we'd just record it and leave it fucked up on the record but somehow we pulled it out of our asses and after it was done and perfect, we were like "There is no way we could play that song live." So that kinda makes it special in a way, it's that isolated recording, the one time we did it right.
Zack Grimm: "Kill My Baby" is pretty funny song to record too because I got really drunk to do the vocals and a couple sentences in it don't make sense. I had the lyrics written down but I messed up so bad. There's like three mistakes that I caught, some you don't really here. But I said the wrong words all over the place.
On recording the album's secret track "Welcome to Hellvis" with producer Mike McHugh:
Simmons: Mike and I were piecing the record together on tape--because when you record to quarter inch tape you literally have to cut the song out and tape it in the order you want it on the record. That's a really long process and Mike and I both have terrible A.D.D. So we took a break from pasting the record together, and we were already about an hour late for our appointment to go master the record up in L.A. and he Mike all of the sudden is like "Maybe we should record a song." And he just set up this cassette recorder and recorded over some band's cassette and did this song. He ran the studio microphones through this old NASA equipment that he had and when it was done, we both decided it should go on the record. That was done literally 45 minutes before the record was actually taken into be mastered.
On pressing Zack Grimm's phone number inside all the Melt Down records:
Simmons: The mastering guys, they ask you to make your own serial number and whatever you want said on the inside of the record because the etch it into the lacquer and it gets pressed into all of the records. So they asked for a number and I asked if it mattered how long the number was and they said no, so I used his phone number. If you have comments on the record, feel free to give him a call, haha.
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Here's some video of the guys performing at the D.I.Y. venue the Cabin in Garden Grove: