Some Girls “Heaven’s Pregnant Teens:
What bands influenced this record? Did they affect how you decided to record?
JP: I can’t really speak for the other members. But for me, there was a lineage of influences that I was drawn towards in relation to Some Girls. I think that the band was originally set out to just be a project and morphed into something else. My main draw to the band was to work with Rob and Sal. But it was challenging at first, to play such simple music. I grew up listening to bands like Crossed Out and Infest, who were super brutal for the time. I wanted to draw from those musical elements and not typical hardcore beats, riffs, and song structures. But also, at the same time, draw from more progressive and modern song writing. Maybe like the obvious stuff I was part of, like The Locust. And with the Locust, Some Girls, or whatever else I was doing, my influences tend to be less musical and more timbre aspects of sounds, creating more feeling in a sound than in a riff or hook. And even to elaborate on this answer, I think my personal inspiration also has a lot to do with the world I live in, socially and politically.
Going in to write and record the record, what were you trying to accomplish in the finished product?
JP:Not to get out of giving you some grand answer here, but really with most of the things I have been part of, we typically just had ideas and direction and over all let it come naturally. I honestly think if you have too many preconceived ideas and notions going into a project, you cant execute what you want, and it also tends to seem insincere in some respects. I see it like, you have all these minds and ideas that depend on each other, and play off each other. So if you limit things, you cut out options. As my own critic, I think we could have done better, but I think that for everything. It’s that constant push to be better and better with each project, or experience.
In what order did you record? Drums first or after guitars etc? Why did you choose to work that way?
JP: We tracked everything live, focusing on grabbing perfect drums tracks. And if any of the other components were spot on, we would save those as well. Then over dubs followed in this order; bass, guitars, vocals, etc. this has always been the order of operation with albums I recorded that had traditional instrumentation.
What drew you to record with Alex Newport? What was the experience like working with him during the album recording sessions?
JP: I was initially drawn to Alex’s work just before The Locust was to record “Plague Soundscapes”. I had heard what he did on the Mars Volta EP that GSL released and was drawn to how he defined the drums. I knew that The Locust needed something like that, where before we would record locally for a day or so on an album and rush thorough everything with an engineer that was not involved in perfecting what we were tracking. With Alex, he pushed for flawless sessions, which is what we got. I think for some of the band, they were not into working with a producer, as they were hoping for that “raw, unrefined, and cryptic” feel. As a band we explained this to Alex and in my opinion, he got it. There was a nasty feel to what he recorded, and even added more distortion to certain elements that didn’t already have it. He was game for pushing annoying feedback, and annoying sounds, which was good in my book.
What was your general bass rig for this record? Were there any places where you felt you needed to deviate away from what you usually used?
JP: I tracked with a vintage Ampeg SVT and a 2×15 cabinet as I have for almost everything I have played bass on. I also used a slew of pedals such as distortion, phase lock loop pedal, and duplicate bass synth modelers. It was toned down from what I use in The Locust, but at the same time, a pretty big step up for the style of music Some Girls were doing, or at least the community the band was part of.
This end sound almost sounds like you recorded on tape, or did you use a DAW, like pro tools? Why did you choose to record this way?
JP: The earlier stuff that Some Girls did was on tape. But “Heaven’s Pregnant Teens” was done digitally. The recording budget was too small to go analog like most of us would have preferred. I suppose it all came down to finances as to why it was digital. It’s a cheaper means to getting the best product for a smaller budget.
Was there much layering of guitar parts on the record, particularly in “Death face”?
JP: Of course there was layering. But more importantly there was a lot of experimenting, which I think is generally rare for a hardcore band. It was almost like a psychedelic composition, than a hardcore song. I think this track was a new direction for us all, and if the band had done more, it would probably have gone that way… absurd, annoying, and still punishing. The types of influences on the track were all over the place, which I feel created something of its own class. Some “critics” say it’s the bands worst song, and others say it’s our best.
Was there a great difference between the drum recording of Sal Gallegos and Gabe Serbian? When were they tracked, after the majority of the album was done or early on?
JP: Yes. The drums tracking for Sal was more precise as it was set to track for tracking the entire album. Gabe’s kit was a bit sparser, and focused on more of a room sound.
“Deathface” stands out from the rest of the tracks, due to its length and the general feel of the song, could you talk about how the band wrote that song, what inspired it etc?
JP: I was at rehearsal and for whatever reason got totally frustrated with some stuff we were working on. I instructed Sal to play the beat that we based the song on and I played a discordant chord over and over. Him and I mapped out the parts, tweaked the length and duration of some aspects, fine-tuned it and that was that. Wes and I had talked about vocal placement and wanted to come up with a repetitive one-syllable word to sing over and over. I think it was probably some of his best lyric writing, and interesting enough he didn’t want to include the lyrics in the liner note of the album. But I pushed for them to be there and won. As for inspiration for the song, well that could come from a million places. But some that I was aware of were avoiding the typical song structure of part, part, part, and the obvious bridges, breakdowns, or what have you. It was a test, a trick, and an intelligent move for the band. It turned into a form of protest as well. When we set out on tour and encountered any bullshit, like heckling, or violence, or over all stupid human actions, we would just “Deathface” the audience.
Is there anything you would go back and change or any thing you are particularly happy with about the record?
JP: One of the tracks could have been better I think. But over all, I think it was executed properly.
JP: As a band, it’s hard to speak for us all. But I think it is safe to say and obvious that we wanted to progress forward as artists from record to record. I think we all felt that it was a natural progression and maturity from the previous work we had documented. I think a goal that we also had was to push ourselves, challenge ourselves, and create something that has not been done before… by ourselves.
What bands were you influenced by in the writing/recording of the album? Did you have a particular ethic behind the choices you made in regards to recording?
JP: Not really. I think that a lot of the influence we got was from the world we live in. not just musical influences per say. But also the musical influences that some of us had were from the average run of the mill bands and songs being pushed and accepted. It was like people on a mainstream level, and even at times, on a more underground level, was settling for some pretty bland stuff. That aspect coupled with the fact that we had fallen into this sort of realm of artists who were talented beyond any musical standards and were all as humble as could be. The fact that we were among artists, who were pushing boundaries upon boundaries, really put us in a place that would only allow us to follow suit. And again, for recording purposes, I think that we felt Alex Newport was part of the band. He knew us, how we thought, and so on, and we knew the same for him as well.
What made you decide to work with Alex Newport again, as the locust and some girls have very different sounds, was it a conscious effort to draw more actively from heaven’s pregnant teens, or did you feel he was the right producer for you personally?
JP: I think a big part of working with Alex was the fact that he was able to master the tracking if drums. First and for most, that was a draw that I always pushed for. I think with a lot of bands, which play fast, or complicated drum lines, you tend to loose components of the beat, especially when sonically pitted against guitar, synth, and vocal placement. Over all, I felt he was the right producer for me personally. I learned a lot working with him. Anything from bass tones and allowing space in instruments, to vocal placement and vocal delivery. He really challenged me and the people I work(ed) with.
During the sessions, did you record the drums to a click first before all the other instruments, or did you record live and then overdub? What was the reason behind your choice?
JP: With most of the locust stuff we did with Alex there was way too many time signatures and changes in the BPM to reference a click track. But for some of the slower material, the more spacious stuff, we did use a click to get proper timing for all of the instruments to follow suit. Its one thing to pull it off live and have visual cues, but when in the studio, to do over dubs or have the tracking be done in isolated rooms, you lack that visual element and have to rely on a click when the music is as complex as some or it was.
What was the general bass rig/gear you used throughout the tracks? Were there any effects you favored, I’ve noticed you use the line 6 fm4 a lot, can you explain what drew you to that particular effect?
JP: I used what I listed above for the Some Girls recording as well as some other random things, like a Trogotronic 667, a Boss Bass Synth pedal, and a couple other things here and there. With the Line 6 synth modeler, I was drawn to it mainly for the heavy synth sounds. But I also stumbled upon some interesting sounds when I would double up on the effects with more than one component. They would break often on tour so I had to carry a back up with me. And at one point, I just tried out doubling some of the effects and came up with some pretty absurd sounds. I was also trying to disguise the sounds that I started to hear in other artist’s songs. I wanted to try to push it to another level I suppose.
The mix on the album is particularly clear, was this something you pushed for in the sessions? If so why?
JP: Sure. Clarity is wonderful. The early stuff was so muddy, and the musicianship was mediocre if that. I think that we adopted a more educated sound, focusing on timbre and preciseness.
In regards to guitars, what general gear was used to gain the guitar sound? Were there many overdubs and use of layering?
JP: Bobby was and still is experimenting with his gear. One of the many things I appreciate about him is that he is constantly educating himself on ways to deliver sound, and pushing his own boundaries. There is layering on the stuff he tracked. But for the most part, and for the band as a whole, we really tried to make sure that whatever was documented on album could be executed live. For me personally, that is on of my biggest gripes to see “live” live music accompanied by a backing track. It shows for poor musicianship and it’s uncreative.
For the keyboards, what kind of gear was used and why?
JP: I cant say why, as this is Joey’s realm. But he was set on utilizing the Moog Voyager more and more around this time. Also he created a massive modular patch bay as well. Most of his vintage synth gear was tied into the patch bay he built to tweak sounds and deliver something that was original for the most part.
Was there anything you would change or are particularly happy with on the album?
JP: Again, there is not much that id want to change really. I think it is what it is. We all used it as a reference point for future material. You grow from it and draw whatever conclusions you can from what was documented.
How do you feel about the term noise rock? Would you say it applied to the bands in their sound or their influences?
JP: I don’t feel anything really. “Noise” is a term that can mean so many things. And “Rock” is just something to throw you into a song structure and general arena of sound. I suppose it’s better than “Punk” or “Hardcore”, or a tad bit more along the lines of what we are doing. And it sure beats some of the more irritating terms used to describe art that I have heard, that I would care to not mention.
I’m looking at some other groups and engineers in the project, what are your feelings about Steve Albini, Big Black, Sonic Youth and other similar bands from that time period? Are there any that have a particular influence on your music or you would like to work with?
JP: I think Steve and Thurston paved the way for many artists. They were on the front lines of a lot of innovative aspects in producing creative music and art. But at the same time, they followed suit from those who were before them. One can trace the more interesting aspects of music back to the early 1900’s. So there was a lineage of key figures that helped steer things in my opinion. Of course id love to work with both of them if the project permits it. I think everyone can grow and learn from each other in the correct circumstance