“Take Five” is a new interview series that will focus on Chicago’s ever-growing music scene by giving you insight on the city’s best local acts via the best source possible: the acts themselves. We ask five questions, and they give five answers. Here is the latest installment featuring The Sweeps.
Chicago’s tenacious power pop trio, The Sweeps
, are taking Chicago by storm one medium at a time. After finally putting their never ending Midwest tour on pause and holding off on their usual tv and radio appearances, the boys have settled down to track a live recording for their second album tentatively called The Terrible Children
that will drop on January 14.
But with a massive fan base chomping at the bit to see more of Bob Dain, Aaron Medina and Santiago Torres, the band will only have a moment before they are up and at it again. Already booked for Double Door’s Fourteenth Annual Halloween Bash, The Sweeps are moving at light speed with future TV spots and radio appearances planned and another string of live shows and touring time coming up November through January. We were able to catch guitarist and lead vocalist Bob Dain out of the studio and ask him about the album and The Sweeps future.
As far as this new album goes, where did you record it?
Erik Widman’s of Tesla Studios was gracious enough to set us up with some recording time and we took advantage of it. We had been dragging our feet for over a year trying to decided if we would spend tens of thousands of dollars with a major studio, or try to do it ourselves and on a much smaller budget. In the end we realized that we needed to record an album that captured the same feel as our live shows. We demoed the songs and spent a few months working on them and making the right changes until the songs felt right to each of us. Erik Widman is helping us pick and place the right mics in the right places and track us. It’s been almost too easy this time around to record this album. We approached this album with months upon months of plotting and planning. It helped immensely when it came to recording nine songs in two days.
So, why record the album live as opposed to tracked?
As a band, we have always been afraid to track live. We’ve heard again and again how more effective it is to track separately. With live recordings the quality is less and it can be extremely frustrating. You’re not able to go back and fix that minor flub or noise you may have made. However, it quickly became apparent that recording live is who we are. Our music relies on emotion. Recording live has finally captured that feeling we’ve always lacked in previous recordings. We went this route because we came to a point where we had 30 songs, and needed to get something out to the public. It takes time to be able to capture the sound exactly how you want.
We spent hours playing the same riff over and over again and would tweak the mic a quarter of an inch in a different direction, then start over until we got it right. It helped out that Erik had a whole slew of amazing Neumanns and Blues and other wonderful mics to play with. But it was frustrating at points to record something only to realize that the floor tom wasn’t mic’d just quite right or that a room mic needed to be lowered or raised. Patience and preparation were our saving graces.
How does your new album differ from your last release, the EP Midnight at The Box
We have been so lucky with the attention our first EP brought our way. However, these new songs really are what we see our sound being as The Sweeps. I know it’s our best work yet. I just hope people listen to this album and feel something they have not felt before. We recorded Midnight at the Box
only 4-5 months into this project. We did not take our time developing the songs as we needed material out to be able to book and tour off of. It was our first crack at an album and I think the songs were what we thought best represented us at that time. Some of the songs were pieced together with new material we came up with, but did not fully develop.
Initially, the idea was to have each song flow into the next and tell more of a story. Bassist Santiago Torres had written “Steve-Z” about a year before I joined the band. A few days before we went into the studio for the first time, I wrote “Waltz”. Both songs we love, however they were not written for a common goal. We think it took a few more months for us to really gel as a group and develop what we wanted this project to be. We hate to define music or get into genres, so we write from the heart and leave it up to others to decide. But each of these songs should create a stir or feeling in the listener as they for us. We want peoples’ hairs on the back of their necks to stand when they first hear our music.
We want people to run and tell a friend. Each of us was absorbed in other things and our minds were not fully dedicated to the project when we recorded Midnight at the Box
. This time around we were really able to utilize time and maturity as musicians and a group to our advantage. We deconstructed the songs and built them back up with as much or as little instrumentation, harmonies and vocals were needed. We have poured our hearts into these songs.
You guys do a lot of touring around the Midwest. When do you plan on doing this next tour?
Every weekend in November and December we will be playing across the Midwest. Our next major tour will take place soon after the album is released. We are now looking at booking a two week tour for late January/early February. We’ve stuck to the Midwest so far out of necessity. As an indie band, it’s hard to generate the funds to cover a few thousand dollars in gas to head out to the West Coast and back, so we’ve had to stick to shows within manageable driving distances, which are under 10-12 hours from Chicago. We would obliviously love to tour the west and east coast after our album is released, and have ton’s of fans from outside the Midwest asking us to come play their area. So, we’re always working on routes and keeping our ears open to show/tour offers.
You have a show coming up on October 30th at the Double Door. Will you be doing anything special for the show?
The lineup is still being put together, but it is actually Double Door’s famous Halloween Show. We’ll be going as The Cars this year and playing their hits. None of us really are major Cars fans, but after going through their song catalog, we realized how many catchy hit songs they had and loved the idea of covering them.
live on WGN Midday News
httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr5WxzfYx2s By Britni Day \ comments