Last time we talked to Growlers singer Brooks Neilson (“Further? Fursure!” by Chris Ziegler, Dec. 23, 2011), his bandmates were gashing girls' heads on a small winter tour and waiting for the album they recorded in Nashville with Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys) to find a release date.
The band are still waiting for that date, but that doesn't mean they're just hanging out. By the time you read this, they will have played their first set at Coachella and, hopefully, completed recording 20 more new songs on their and their friends' collections of all-analog devices. It's all about 2-inch tape, yo.
OC Weekly: Since no release date has been announced for your new album, what are you doing in the meantime?
Brooks Neilson: We just recorded three or four songs on 2-inch tape at home, and we're going to the Distillery [in Costa Mesa] to make another record on tape. It's all old analog—computers are not allowed inside that place. Mike McHugh is there, and he's a genius.
What's the best part about recording on tape?
There are a lot of people who push digital recording, but I've never heard anything come out good when recorded digital. Tape's just better stuff. All the records we grew up listening to and love are on tape, and it'll be a long time before they can figure out a computer that can create the sound waves that are like actual tape-sound recording. When you're at a computer, you can just say, “Go again,” versus being in there with a bunch of dinosaur machines that you're trying to keep up on and tweak on and experiment on. The more you learn about it, the more you have respect for people who do film for movies and sounds for movies and old records. It's pretty incredible.
What made you want to record more material when you had just finished a new album?
Going out and doing the record in Nashville was great, as was having Dan [Auerbach] do all the work for it. But having someone else fix your album and not being able to be there made me jealous when I got home. We have a lot of material, so we just started recording, and we're going to crank out 25 songs before this month's over. I'm only five-deep right now, but it's totally doable.
How can you do that much recording if you're playing Coachella?
We'll be taking a break for Coachella because it's a big deal for a lot of people, and we definitely want to take advantage of the opportunity. But at the same time, I have to do what I want to do, and that's record. So I'll have to balance that out.
How does it feel to play your first Coachella?
Yeah, it's been a long time coming. We've become more approachable in the past few years, grown up a lot and gotten on the road more. For a long time, we were DIY, kicking around and never caring with our homemade recordings. We're all still in poverty, but now we're in control of our career. We all have fun, but we're not just fucking around. We're recording and writing and definitely are on the same level as any other band out there.
This article appeared in print as “The Growlers Prep for the Big Time.”
Sarah Bennett is a freelance journalist who has spent nearly a decade covering food, music, craft beer, arts, culture and all sorts of bizarro things that interest her for local, regional and national publications.