by Paula Bocciardi
"But aren't you freaked out about street sounds coming in your house and bleeding onto the tape?"
Kate Schellenbach, drummer for the New York funk/hip-hop band Luscious Jackson, is recounting a common reaction to the recording process for their new CD Fever In Fever Out. Many of the basic tracks were done in Schellenbach's apartment, where the band regularly rehearses. "There wasn't a whole lot of [instrument] isolation there, but in a way I think that bleeding adds richness and is a natural way to capture sound," muses the drummer. "I mean, when you listen to your stereo, you're not in an isolation booth -- you're hearing the sirens going on, and it's part of the experience of listening to music."
Hoping to capture a more live feel this time around, the band recruited renowned U2 producer Daniel Lanois. A master in the use of tube amps and vintage equipment, Lanois was able to add multiple layers of warmth and depth to the music. "Daniel captures the air of a room, and he's not into that muffled studio sound. I think it ends up being really pleasing to the ear," says Schellenbach.
Much of the CD was also recorded in the dining room of an old French Quarter mansion in New Orleans, where the band could "just walk out the door and be energized by the town and the music." Like New York, New Orleans is a city that breathes both grit and beauty, and the street dance comes across in Fever In Fever Out, although the album is less sample-heavy than the band's previous CD. Schellenbach's aging brass snare and spitting cymbals add a sharp urban crack to the insistent beats. "I wanted to play simply," she explains, "as opposed to coming up with grooves over drum loops. Sometimes we would go back in, deconstruct a song, create some loops, and re-record it in a sampled direction. But a lot of the tracks sounded better sort of organic, just the way they were."
Luscious Jackson is on the road and plans to be there through next spring or summer. Asked how she manages to reconstruct the complex studio tracks onstage, Schellenbach says that she often combines multiple studio beats into one newly created groove that emulates the overall feel of the layers. "Live, you want the music to sound as good as the record. It might not sound totally the same, but you want it to sound as dynamic and as powerful. It's like looking at the whole picture, as opposed to little parts of it. Which is sort of a good way to appreciate music."
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