By Scott Wolfe
These bluegrass boys just released their new album Stars and Satellites in April and have a hectic touring schedule planned for the summer. Stylus talked with Eric Berry (mandolin) over the phone to catch up with the band, chat about the new album and (personally) get super stoked for their show at the West End Cultural Center August 30th!
Stylus: First let’s talk the new album. Stars and Satellites finds the band exploring a much slower pace than previous albums. Was there a conscious effort in doing this or is it a result of the recording process?
Eric Berry: It was a bit of both; Dave [Simonett] was okay with bringing in slower material and it sort of took off from there. We were having a lot of fun with the whole process and by the end we were all about it. The songs were slower on the whole but none of them would have been out of place on other albums.
Stylus: Did you feel any pressure to do something different after the positive response you got from Palomino?
EB: There was definitely pressure to put out a great record that we could be proud of but at the same time we didn’t want to go on a conformist streak. It just turned out that we made a very introspective record that changed things up, but we love it!
Stylus: Could you elaborate on the recording process of this album for those that don’t know how Stars and Satellites came to be?
EB: We recorded it in a log cabin, but by no means were we hard up. We had a sauna, hot tub, nature trails, BBQ and a garage bar. It was pretty luxurious. I was in and out of the cabin, my daughter was just born so we picked that place rather than a conventional studio because it was pretty close. The other guys lived there but for me it was like going to the office, I would leave at night to come back in the morning so I could be with my newborn baby girl.
Stylus: Would you do something like that again?
EB: Not Sure. That place got bought out so probably not there again. A part of me sees anything that we do like that again would be viewed negatively the second time round, plus moving all the recording equipment was a pain. I would not want to force recording like that again just because it worked out well for this album.
Stylus: The variation of the Stars and Satellites is striking but yet it retains cohesiveness. Were the faster cuts put in to please the fans that enjoy the more speedy paced songs?
EB: No, nothing like that. The two instrumental cuts that Dave and I wrote just happened to be not be as slow. Tim [Saxhaug - bass player] didn’t do a certain slap technique, that makes our faster material more percussive, on this album and as a result the album has a slower vibe just based on the way we interact with him. The whole thing was an experiment we really got into it and are pleased with the results.
Stylus: Your live show is a blast and there is always tons of energy flowing. Does the different vibe of the new album change the stage dynamics? How does Stars and Satellites translate into the live performance?
EB: When we released Palomino we played it in its entirety along with some other songs. With Stars and Satellites we tried that but, when you pay money and you go out to a show and you want to blow off some steam the slower stuff can be a bit of a drag. Now we play about a good mix between Stars and Satellites and Palomino. The heavier, faster paced stuff actually sounds more intense now when the slower stuff is played within the same set.
Stylus: This summer sees TBT playing quite a few festivals, a couple of fair size such as Lollapalooza. Are you pretty comfortable with these larger festival crowds now?
EB: We have played some festivals with pretty big crowds, just this year we played at Bonnaroo. Not to say that we have “been there, done that.” Lollapalooza is a more mainstream festival compared with other festivals we played in the past. We are playing bigger stages now as opposed to the smaller side stages; it is different for us but an extension of what we have done before. The bonus about festivals is that people may see you that would have otherwise had no idea you existed.
The Pride of Minnesota is scheduled to play August 30th at WECC, if you missed them at Folk Fest last year this is your chance to catch them live. You will not be disappointed.