SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: DINOSAUR BONES
If you want distinct drum sounds, it helps to have a producer who's also a drummer. So the Toronto rock quintet Dinosaur Bones did just that, recruiting Jon Drew to guide the recording of My Divider, the band's debut album, which was released March 8 on Dine Alone Records.
Singer/guitarist Ben Fox had a lot to say about Drew and My Divider, as well as what he plans to do in Austin when not performing during SXSW.
Medleyville.us: The drum sound throughout My Divider suggests that the album was recorded in a big room. Talk about where the album was made, any special microphone techniques that were used and generally how the sessions went down.
Ben Fox: "The drums were definitely recorded in a big room. We tracked them in an amazing room at Metalworks studio in Toronto. The drum approach Jon took relied heavily on using room mics to capture a big airy sound without having to us artificial drum reverb. We chose the studio we did so we could record in a room big enough with good enough acoustics to get that sense of space naturally. Jon's a drummer himself, so he's definitely got some tricks up his sleeve to get great drum sounds.
"We tracked the rest of the record at Giant Studios, also in Toronto. We had a full month at Giant, which was a crazy luxury for us, having that kind of time. It was a really relaxed situation where we could really experiment and try different things out. And we also had some time once the album was done to take a break and not listen to it for a little while, then go back, tweak it, and make sure we were happy. All the other recordings we've done up until the album were total shotgun, get-it-done scenarios. I think having that kind of time really had a positive impact on how the album turned out."
There's a lyric on the new album that says "cell phones keep going off like bombs in the night." Was this inspired by something you experienced — like having to deal with a cell-obsessed crowd at a Dinosaur Bones show, perhaps?
Fox: "That line is less about a particular incident and more just about the general sense of emotional distance I think a lot of people feel between each other these days. All this technology is meant to bring us closer together, and it does, but it comes with the consequence of distancing each other on a human level. I've seen bands take time out of their sets to beg people to put away their phones, stop worrying about uploading photos or tweeting what shoes the singer's wearing and experience the show for themselves. The fact that you would even have to have that conversation sucks. But we do it to ourselves, I guess: I'm doing this interview on my Blackberry, so I should probably shut up."
Describe Jon Drew in five words.
Fox: " 'Amazing! Perfect! Do it again.' — that's an infamous Jon Drew quote."
How do you think your hometown Toronto Blue Jays will do this baseball season?
Fox: "I love sipping beers in the sunshine as much as the next guy, but I can't say I'm much of a baseball guy. I'm a hoops fan, and this is the worst the Raptors have been since like '98. I'd rather not talk about it. Toronto's teams are all so hurting, but Toronto still loves its sports. If any one of our teams ever wins it big again —unlikely — this city's gonna flip."
Finish this sentence: When I'm in Austin for this year's SXSW, I will ...
Fox: " … eat as much Texas barbecue as I possibly can, I will apply sunscreen liberally and I will do everything short of kill a man to high-five at least one member of the Wu-Tang Clan."
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Dinosaur Bones at SXSW (schedule subject to change):
* 3:30 p.m. March 17: Republic Square Park, corner of W. 5th Street and San Jacinto
* 1 p.m. March 18: Paradise, 401 E. 6th St.
* 9 p.m. March 18: Paradise, 401 E. 6th St. (official SXSW showcase)
* 4:45 p.m. March 19: Gypsy Lounge, 1504 E. 6th St.