Forgoing professional assistance to record an album often leads to an exhausting, strung-out process. While musicians gain the opportunity to relax throughout the recording since the imposing financial burden of an hourly studio rate is eschewed, sometimes that relaxation creates too comfortable a situation. As costs decrease, the attention to detail rises and the quest to perfect every instrument and level quickly becomes an insatiable undertaking. A number of bands that I’ve interviewed over the years loved the freedom and convenience a home studio provides, but ultimately realize the ceaseless minutiae never stops.
Refreshingly, The Delphines isn’t a band that sweats the small stuff. In its short existence, The Delphines has released a handful of singles and EPs, utilizing a swift and ultra lo-fi approach—recording each track into a laptop’s internal microphone. Somehow, the results weren’t an inaudible mess and are, actually, quite accessible. It helps that there isn’t a clutter of instruments that muffle the sound. The set-up consists of a couple jangly guitars, a driving bass and two drums (not drummers, as some irritated sound guys misconstrue). The band embraces its simple instrumentation almost out of necessity—“I don’t know how to play with my feet,” drummer Jeremy Ault says—but utilizes each to great effect.
“When we first started the group, we looked toward other bands who had the same sort of instrumentation, the same sort of set up, and then it became this awesome challenge,” guitarist Harrison Colby says. “Now we’re in this box, we don’t use pedals. We only have two guitars, two amps, two drums, two singers. What can we do? And then it grew and now we don’t sound like those people that we look to for inspiration.”
The band has stuck with that same no-frills aesthetic on its debut full-length, Hush, due out May 27. The album finds The Delphines truly crafting its own version of brash, noisy and pop-laden post-punk. This time around, though, the production equipment saw a significant upgrade.
“We have a practice space at the old Klements sausage factory,” Colby says. “It’s like a meat locker underground. We share it with these guys Kessel Runner—they used to be Fjords. They have all this recording equipment. Out of my ignorance, I didn’t want to mess with any of it because it all seemed very expensive. Then I asked the guitar player, Kevin Lucas, to teach me how to do it. For a month we learned how to record with actual microphones and mixers and compressors. We recorded it really quickly. It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be. Though, it’s not as easy as the internal mic.”
Hush was recorded, mixed and mastered in three quick months. That frantic pace bleeds through into the songs, many of which don’t pass the three-minute mark. The band’s surroundings definitely played a part in that.
“We did the bass and drum tracks in the same night,” Ault says. “That took about three hours to do all of it. There’s a generator down there in the old Klements factory that turns on periodically and creates quite a loud ruckus. We would try to play one song and then wait for the generator to turn on and then wait for the generator to turn off. Then we’d play two more songs. We were living to the beat of the generator.”
You can preorder the Hush cassette here. The Delphines celebrate the album release on Saturday, May 31 at the Riverwest Public House with Platinum Boys and No Bueno. Show starts at 9 p.m.
Main photo courtesy of The Delphines.