Since the release of the “Dirty Water” EP in 2013, Black Dirty have been honing their one-of-a-kind sound. Their music is bubbly and complex like an expensive champagne, and their new EP, Paw Paw, is no exception. ‘Rubber Vultures’, exclusively streaming on our website this week, brings Paw Paw to an abrupt end with some nod-worthy syncopated rhythms. Tyler Brooks’ singing style evolves into something slightly akin to Hail the Sun. Combining that with Black Dirty’s recognizable noodly guitar playing and creative rhythms, we end up with something uniquely emotive.
I sat down with Tyler from the band to get some further intel on the album: the inspiration, the song writing, the recording, and other sundries…
What is your song writing and recording process like?
For the New EP, that process has been all over the place because the band has been in such disarray until now. Normally the process will begin with Tyler bringing just a guitar riff to a full band comp to practice then everyone will learn that and either keep it, adjust it, or do something else. Then at some point we start adding sections and figure out what section we want to come back to and which ones should happen once. Then the hardest part is making transitions, which is normally done with hard seams in math, but we try to have more transitions that are easier to handle. After all of the general structure is done, we record it and then make all sorts of changes once we’re able to hear it recorded. Finally Tyler has a huge bank of lyrics and ideas that we pulls from and assembles the lyrics and melody. He also like to come to practice and spit ball lyrical melody ideas and everyone will tell him what they like and don’t. And then we sometimes get to end and decide it sucks and we basically throw it out, and we try not to get too sentimental. One of the songs we had previously thrown out a year or so ago, but we brought it back and made a few adjustments and all of a sudden we liked it.
We recorded at this awesome studio in Philadelphia called Miner Street Recordings. They’ve been keeping the Philly Scene alive for a long time. We wanted to go to them because of what Brian McTear(Owner) and his studio is to the city, and Matt Poirier who mixed our EP is a Don Cab fan from Pittsburgh so . . . you know. They also get super weird with ambient full spectrum post tracking additions and we found that super exciting.
We go into the studio with a tempo map for the entire song. All of the members get their parts down so they could play from top to bottom with just a metronome. First tracking days will be Steve and Jim laying down bass and drums. Then we add all the guitar and then finally vocals. Once the tracking is down we do all sorts of weird re-amping and sampling and effects. For this EP we got a ton of river sounds and rain and canoes in the background that we recorded at the Susquehanna River where Tyler does a lot of camping.
What is your least math-rock related hobby?
Well Steve works on cars and is actually really good at it and he also crushes at Kirby Golf and has a giant saltwater fish tank . . . But that might still kind of fall under math rock . . .
Jim is pretty much music all of the time, this is a tough one. When Jim isn’t playing with Black Dirty, Doing music lessons, or teaching school music programs, he does like to find local dope food and beer spots to try out. If you ever want to know the best ramen or pizza in Philly, ask Jim.
Tyler always has electronics in pieces all over his house fixing stuff or making things, still kind of math . . . Haha he’s actually going to go see the band Modern English play in a week or so . . . definitely not math . . . “I’ll stop the world and melt with you” . . .
What bands would you say inspire your music?
The top bands for influence on this record are Town Portal, Totorro, and Narrow/Arrow. Town Portal has a perfect ensemble with Guitar, Bass and Drums. Each member has such a huge vibrant identity in their recordings. So we wanted to take that idea and try to give each member a big sonic identity in this record. Totorro’s compositional skill is very good. Go listen to any of their songs and you’ll notice that they never play a section more than twice without going to another section or adding a new layer. It keeps their instrumental songs captivating and fresh. So we tried to keep our sections short and concise with minimal repetition as well. Narrow/Arrow . . . first, why are these guys not huge? They are this little emo math band from Ohio. Vocally this band inspired Tyler to come out of his shell and comfort zone and be a bit grittier. So he played on the line of post hardcore for small moments where he gets gritty, but stays in key.
Any plans to tour the new EP? (I noticed you played a gig with the new material and you’re going to be a part of Plus Fest 1.5)
Yep, for the first time ever Black Dirty will actually be touring. We plan to go to TX first and play some math centered events. Plus Fest 1.5 is going to be awesome. We are huge fans of Floral! After that we will be doing a lot of regional touring in the NE US, and we hope to do a west coast tour within a year.
Black Dirty’s new album ‘Paw Paw’ is out on the 7th of March. Pre-order over here, plz…