In advance of the release of their new album THE TURN, due out October 28 via Think Loud Music, +LIVE+ sat down to share their thoughts on the new record, recording and their history…
Question: How have LIVE’s storytelling techniques evolved?
Chad Taylor: I think that as a band, how we create a song changed over time. In some way, shape or form, we had to regress and actually take ourselves back to the style of how we created songs when we were kids, which meant that we were going to sort of jump over a cliff. There was an element of danger to it. We’d pick-up our instruments and begin to play a riff or a musical phrase with no real clear concept of how it was going to wind up.
Chris Shinn: We actually, I think, channeled the energy from when the band made the loudest noise, which was…what year was Mental Jewelry?
Chad Taylor: Exactly, it was the early ’90s.
Chris Shinn: Yeah, because I remember it, and that energy.
Question: Why do you prefer a more collaborative process when recording an album?
Chris Shinn: It’s why I’ve never really preferred to do solo stuff, because I get more joy out of the process. It all comes down to when we’re on stage and you look around and know that we know what went into the songs and who did what–and that it’s not just something that I came in and said, “Here, ya’ll play this.” The only rule is if someone doesn’t like something, then we don’t use it.
Question: How long have you been working on this album?
Chris Shinn: About three years.
Chad Gracey: We were working on it slowly.
Patrick Dahlheimer: We’ve been everywhere. We did a couple of sessions in York (PA), I think; one in Nashville; then we came back and really did the whole record in York.
Chris Shinn: It was important to take our time. We got to let the music develop and for us grow as a band, which is really what we needed to do in order for this to be right, so we didn’t push anything.
Chad Taylor: I think this LIVE record has been nearly two decades in the making. We desperately needed to shake things up. The band had just become, in my opinion, completely and utterly safe, and I just fucking despise safe music. I want to put on a record and have no idea what’s going to come next. I want to have no idea what’s around the corner, and just somehow we had…I don’t know–maybe gravitated towards or had become sort of a cliché even of ourselves. We had to break that mold. In order to break that mold, it meant going back to the beginning, back to the basics.
Question: How did it feel to record the album in your hometown of York, Pennsylvania?
Patrick Dahlheimer: Recording in York was pretty comfortable, I don’t think that being comfortable really translated into the album because it’s not that kind of record. It’s a more aggressive record.
Chris Shinn: It’s funny. We talk about how earlier LIVE records have a ton of water references, and this record, I don’t know who pointed it out first. It might have been Jerry. I don’t know. He said, “This record has got tons of fire references,” and I think that’s just the overall feeling of it’s like, arrgh, just got to get it out, and that’s kind of what it felt like. That’s what these songs feel like. I’ve told people before, I’ve never been in a band with more testosterone in my life.
Question: How was it working with Jerry Harrison?
Chad Gracey: We know each other very well at this point. Jerry was a lot more involved in the songwriting, especially on the lyric and melody side than he has ever been. It was great to have him involved that way, because he’s a friggin’ genius on so many levels. He’s just super-smart and it’s really cool to have him contribute that way. Jerry’s Jerry–we love him.
Chad Taylor: Jerry broke us down, Chad, Pat and I. He broke us down years ago. He figured out what made each one of us tick as a musician, where our heads were at in the making of each record and then how to use that best in some way to get the best result. Jerry’s constantly playing mind games with you, whether you know it or not.
Chris Shinn: Jerry broke me. That’s for sure. I thought I wasn’t going to make it.
Patrick Dahlheimer: I didn’t think I was going to make it for a couple of the sessions, being in the room.
Chris Shinn: Before we learned how to groove …
Patrick Dahlheimer:There was a disconnect. Chad said, “Jerry has figured out to work the three of us,” and Chris entered the fold very quickly.
Chris Shinn: Jerry had a lot of responsibility and not a lot of time, and he came in like a bull. We butted heads on a lot of stuff, and when he finally showed me what he was talking about and I heard it the way he had moved things around on the tracks–it’s really hard to explain to someone who doesn’t work with Pro Tools or write music in general–but the difference is enormous. It’s like someone trying to speak to you in a different language and when you finally figure out what they’re saying, you’re, “Oh, okay, I totally understand now. Why didn’t you just say it like that?” That’s what it takes, it takes a minute. Now he’s like my favorite person in the world. I love him to death. He’s made me a ton better.
Question: How have the dynamics of the band changed with the addition of Chris?
Patrick Dahlheimer: Bringing Chris into the fold with the band was probably too easy. I was expecting all of us to really be on a learning curve. Obviously, there’s history among all of us, the three of us, Chad and Chad and myself, the musical history, and we were friends with Chris, but we’d never been in the same musical quartet. At the first rehearsal, all of the sudden we decided to play an older track, and it was a little scary at the beginning, because you don’t know what’s going to happen, and we plowed through one of the older tracks. We finished and thought, “Well, okay, this is figured out.”
Chad Gracey: Ding, ding, ding. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Patrick Dahlheimer: When it came to writing, it was almost the same thing. Chris quickly learned how we work, I think, as a trio, as the rhythm section.
Question: Can you explain the meaning behind the new album title?
Chad Taylor: The concept of The Turn is something that I encountered a number of years ago. I was working with a gentleman who did script writing, and he kept on talking about the end of the second act and the beginning of the third act, and he referred to it as “The Turn.” I looked at him pretty naively and I said, “Hey, what is ‘The Turn.'” He said, “It’s that ‘Aha’ moment of where you discover the plot and the meaning of the plot,” and then the third act is really about resolution. For LIVE, we were obviously on a pretty long journey, on a 29-year journey to get to this place where I think we really came to be, we discovered ourselves, and it was that ‘Aha’ moment of what we had always thought would be. I knew that once we felt that, we really had literally turned the corner. We became a different band. We became a different unit. We suddenly started to understand each other’s strengths and also our weaknesses.
Chad Gracey: To me The Turn is sort of more of th u-turn we talked about earlier and went back to our old selves and our old songwriting styles. That was refreshing to us because we had sort of lost that along the way. Then bringing in Chris’ fresh take on things–it brought the newness to it that it needed.
Patrick Dahlheimer: I think with The Turn we did just that. We took a turn. We didn’t rely on the same path that we’d always gone. We just didn’t take the straight and narrow. Musically, we took that turn. We got off track, I think, where people were expecting us to stay on track, and I think musically we took the turn.
Chris Shinn: The Turn, I think we all agreed that was just the name. That had to be the name of the record. It makes the most sense. It’s not just a change in the line-up but it’s a whole change in perception, how we all perceive what it is we do as musicians and as people and living as adults.
Question: How do you feel about looking back and celebrating the 20th anniversary of Throwing Copper?
Chad Taylor: I listened to the record probably…seriously front to back the first time since it’s been made. While Throwing Copper is somewhat significant in our lineage, just like the band’s name itself, we have to be about the moment. We have to be LIVE. It has to be happening now. We’re not a band that’s about its past and its history despite the fact that we have a substantial past and history. We’re about creating new music.
Chad Gracey: My memories of Throwing Copper were a lot of touring. Having it be very exciting but being dog tired the whole time. It was this whole mixture of emotions like, “This is friggin’ awesome. We are huge,” which you always wanted to be, so dreams come true, but, “Fuck, I want to go to bed and not tour anymore.” That’s my memory of it in kind of a nutshell.
Question: Chris, what was it like the first time you sang with LIVE?
Chris Shinn: I hadn’t been in a room in that close quarters to hear thunder for real. What it sounds like when guys literally taught each other how to play, like together. That’s something that…I’ve played with a lot of people. I haven’t had the career that these guys have had yet, but I have played with some really amazing people and incredible musicians. I was just shocked at how good everyone was, and then Taylor comes in and just all his awesome effects and guitars and…That’s LIVE.
Chad Taylor: Mistakes and blunders. Yeah.
Chris Shinn: The spirit of LIVE is I think more LIVE than it has been in ten years. I hate to say it. I don’t mean to jump on anyone’s shit here, but I think it’s the truth. I care about these guys and the music that we worked our tails off on. I can’t wait for people to hear it, and I hope they give it a good listen because it deserves a good listen.