Out of Hibernation
Wintersleep Emerges From Their Slumber With New LP
Secluded in the backwoods of upstate New York, the members of Wintersleep got really, really good at badminton last summer.
“Yeah… We got super into that. Like, it started to take up a little too much of our time,” said Tim D’eon, the band’s guitarist and keyboardist.
The band also got a chance to practice rifle shooting—thanks to the 17-year-old hunting aficionado living next door to the studio who took to spending his spare time teaching indie rock musicians the art of marksmanship.
“He’d come over and chat us up a little, but one day he comes back with a rifle, and like, a target. So he says, ‘Do you guys want to shoot at this target?’ And we were like, ‘Uhhh, I guess so?’” D’eon said.
“I’d never shot a gun before. So that was pretty interesting. It kind of hurt my shoulder a little bit, but it was definitely interesting.”
Not surprisingly, badminton and rifle practice weren’t exactly the purpose of their six-week retreat to Tarbox Road Studios in Cassadaga, NY.
The studio, where the likes of MGMT and the Flaming Lips have recorded, is the temporary home of Dave Fridmann, who over two three-week sessions produced Hello Hum, Wintersleep’s latest album released in early June.
“Our last record we recorded in Montreal but the biggest bummer about that was getting stuck in traffic everyday on the way to the studio and on our way back, it would take up three hours of your day basically just travelling,” said D’eon.
“This time, we could be completely immersed in the recording process.”
And so they were. One of the many perks of living in a recording studio—apart from the badminton court—were the rooms stockpiled with every instrument imaginable.
The band was encouraged to use these instruments at all hours of the day and night by co-producers Tony Doogan (Belle and Sebastian, David Byrne) and Fridmann.
“The sleeping arrangements were kind of isolated from the recording area, so if you wanted to go or have an idea, you could go with it all night if you wanted,” said D’eon.
“Actually, the first song on the record, ‘Hum,’ was one of those sessions. When we went in to do the recording, we just kind of did it off the cuff. Dave really liked it and was like, ‘We should totally work on this more and try to put it on the record.’ We all agreed and it ended up on the record.”
Their latest album may not sound too different from their previous releases, but the change in recording location did spark a change, if not a slight one, in sound. Paired with the addition of a new producer, the band aimed to make an album that tried something new, but wouldn’t be pegged as experimental.
“That’s kind of the thing, [Fridmann] really pushed us to try new stuff out, and the way the he mixes he really tried to incorporate those kinds of things,” he said.
“We wanted to make sure that we didn’t go too far, we didn’t want to alienate anyone, but it has a little bit of a different sound, and I think it was all of our favourite recording experiences.”
Although Doogan produced their last album, New Inheritors, this time around was the band’s first time working with Fridmann. The two producers had worked together previously, but a sort of reunion between the two who hadn’t worked together in “five or 10 years” happened when the group arrived in New York to start recording.
“[The recording session] was great, I mean, we all just kind of let things roll,” said D’eon.
“We never really say we’re going to make this kind of record or like, we’re going to use these specific instruments of anything like that, and this time we were allowed to experiment quite a bit, we marked loops on a lot of random tape, and had access to a ton of instruments.”
“I mean, the studio is just jam-packed with stuff, he said that he really wanted us to experiment, and he didn’t even have to be there; we could record it ourselves and send him the files and he would take a look at them, so that was pretty cool.”
After practically six weeks of isolation, the band was able to cross back over the border intact, with a fourth album under their belt and high hopes for their upcoming tour, which is planned to be their longest to date.
That is, if they’re able to find at least a few badminton courts while on the road.
Wintersleep w/ Elliott Brood / Oct. 27 / Corona Theatre (2490 Notre-Dame St. W.) / 9:00 p.m. / $29.40 advance, $31.90 door
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