On the Road with Carter Tanton
In the eight or so years I lived in Boston, disparagement of the rock scene was as common as lamenting the Red Sox and Celtics each season (pre-2004 and 2008 respectively, of course). It was easy to take that stance, but if you dragged your ass to enough shows in Cambridge, JP, and Allston, there were always interesting and worthwhile sounds to discover. One such band was Tulsa, which was fronted by guitarist and singer Carter Tanton. While that band has long-since dissolved, he has been busy—as a member of Jana Hunter’s Lower Dens, occasionally playing with Melissa Nadler, and by cutting his teeth as a recording engineer for Twin Shadow, Drug Rug, and many others.
This hard-working and often peripatetic musician has been zigzagging across the country over the last few weeks with Fumika Yamazaki-Burdett (also of Viva Viva, keys) and Greg Besun (a.k.a. MANNERS, drums), opening up for guitar-heroes War on Drugs and Purling Hiss. I was able to catch up with Carter through some late-night correspondence as he and the crew makes their way back East for a few more dates in the US before heading to Europe. Be sure to watch kaleidoscopic video for “Horrorscope” after the jump, which was directed by JHNY STVNS (of Fedavees, whose new single was also recorded by Carter). If you don’t manage to catch him on tour this fall, his much-anticipated solo effort Freeclouds will be available in your local record store on November 15th.
KW – I hope the tour has been going well everyone. It is definitely a killer bill alongside Purling Hiss and War on Drugs. I read in another interview that you collaborated with Adam Granduciel [of War on Drugs] years ago—is that how this bill came about?
CT – In a way, maybe. Yeah, it’s funny—Adam and I were just talking about those days in Boston where we hung out in our friend’s studio. He’s definitely a dude who I can talk about recording with and learn something new each time. I relate to his methods a lot.
KW – What have you guys been listening to in the van on those long drives out West?
CT – J Dilla. Spectrum. Karl Blau.
KW – I’d like to hear about your process for recording and producing Freeclouds at your home. What is your set-up, and how long did you work on it?
CT – I have one mic and one mic preamp. That’s about it. And then I do a lot of work sampling myself and drum programming. This record really was made in my bedroom. You can do just about anything these days with only a little technology. I’m psyched on that.
Freeclouds took 2-3 months, mixing included. I tracked it beginning in February last winter.
KW – I see that “Horrorscope” was recorded with Brian Deck [formerly of Califone, Ugly Casanova, Red Red Meat, and producer for Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse, and countless others]. How did you end up collaborating with him?
CT – My old band was encouraged to work with him. “Horrorscope” was definitely the song Brian and I clicked on the most. I got him up out of his chair.
KW – Did you acquire any new implements recently or over the last few years that were employed on this album? A new 12-string, a Roland 707, or anything that helped your sound evolve?
CT – Hah. A computer. My first ever. That’s it. And a Roland Juno 6.
KW – After a leg through Europe later this year, what are your plans for 2012?
CT – More tours in January and February, and then I’ll be busy with Lower Dens.
KW – As a museum nerd, I have to ask—have you guys seen any art or visited any museums during your travels? If so, any highlights?
CT – Yes!! The De Kooning exhibit at the MoMA [New York] is awesome. Go. The first room is my favorite of the whole show.
Freeclouds can be pre-ordered through Western Vinyl and is also available on iTunes now.
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The author of this article loves to keep tabs on her favorite Boston bands down in NYC.