Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The making of “Staring at the Sound” with John LaMacchia

The Song

The music for Staring at the Sound was written pretty impulsively. I wanted something that would vibe well with the energy of what I had written for Haunting a Ghost. Something that was just as unhinged, but something more straight forward. At that time I was listening to The Desert Sessions 9 and 10 a lot and I think you can hear a bit of Josh Homme's influence in the guitar riff I wrote for the verses. The chorus is in the same key as the verse which was intentional. I just really wanted something stripped down and straight forward for this one, something that the band could let loose on.

In particular, I am really happy with the sound of the rhythm guitars we wound up with for this song. Once I described what I was going for to recording engineer Michael Barile, he knew exactly what we should use. He had a really great, vintage Sunn Model T bass amp that was really warm and loud. That combined with a Rat II distortion pedal, it was just perfect.

Greg Puciato in The Gauntlet 2008

Greg Puciato had this to say about Staring At The Sound in an interview with The Gauntlet in 2008.

"Another rock song that came really quickly vocally. John sent this, and again, the melody came really quickly. The lyrics are more or less about being in a relationship with someone in which you are criticized a lot and put under a lot of scrutiny by people trying to defame or condemn something that they don't fully understand. The world is a critic always, and older people or people stuck in conservative mindsets often don't realize that they hurt the ones they love and stifle the growth of both those people's and their own lives by adhering to antiquated and outdated beliefs or social paradigms. John's guitar solo in this song was really cool to hear, he ripped it out pretty much in one take. He has a great feel in his soloing that I'm excited for people to hear. I think everyone knows he is a great guitar player but I don't know that he ever got to be too expressive as far as playing a solo goes with Candiria. It's funny, a couple people have told me that this song reminds them a bit of Jane's Addiction, because of the soaring nature of the vocals and the guitar solo, and I never ever heard that before but now. I can totally hear that in his solo, whether he felt that way about it or not [laugh]. That's the thing about this song I'm the most excited about honestly, for people to really hear how expressive his guitar playing is."

The Influence

As Greg had guessed, Dave Navarro's playing on the early Jane's Addiction records was an influence on me as a young guitar player. It was way more emotionally charged than all of the classically influenced, metal guitar players and the Jazz musicians I was listening to and when we were in the recording studio, I felt that style and attitude would be the perfect vibe for the guitar solos in Staring At The Sound. The entire ending section of the song is very powerful to me. I think Greg’s voice sounds incredible. I also really dig the call and response aspect of that section, between the anthemic vocals and the wailing guitars. 

There is an ambient segue between Staring At The Sound and I Should Have Known You Would. Initially this was all going to be one long piece of music but Greg felt it was best to keep the two pieces as separate songs with a crossfading musical section in the middle instead. I am glad we went that route.

The Mix

The segue section was created using a guitar loop that was heavily manipulated with effects by Michael Barile and a Roland JX305 keyboard / sequencer. I really enjoy making ambient music and this piece in particular was exciting to create. I wanted something meditative but something that would also fluctuate between minor, major, suspended and so on. The thing I loved most about working with Michael Barile is that he understood how important vibe was. Bringing the lights down in the studio, making sure no one else was around for this section of the song. That sort of thing. It made for all the difference in the end.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

From Caterpillar To Moth : The making of Together We Become Forever with John LaMacchia

The Song
 Together We Become Forever was written and performed, in its entirety by Greg Puciato. When I initially heard the piece I instantly fell in love with it. It was really interesting to me that the piece never returned to the opening sequence. Instead it undergoes this metamorphosis like a caterpillar to a moth.

Greg Puciato in The Gauntlet 2008 
“I sat down at around noon one day, and then didn't get up except to eat and piss until about noon the next day, and this is what came from that block of time. The writing of this song to me is a perfect example of a state of being that I love, when you are so into what you are writing, so devoid of conscious thought, that there ends up being a complete dissolution between mind and music, time flies by, and you just get sucked in to wherever the inspiration is coming from. The piano melody initially started off from me playing the piano music to "Alfie" by Burt Bacharach, and then it just took off into something else. The slowed down string/feedback swells underneath the piano throughout the whole song to me represent something trying to break free, kind of struggling and twisting around under the surface, building tension, and then at the end of the piano finally breaks through with the loud string swells at the end of the song. This song was loosely inspired by the movie "The Fountain", with the first part's bittersweet piano melody but with tension underneath representing the struggle the characters were going through throughout the movie, and the musical resolve at the end reflecting his finally reaching enlightenment and freeing himself and reconnecting with his wife by letting go. 

The name of the song is even an homage to that soundtrack by Clint Mansell, who I have since reached out to and thanked for the inspiration. John actually also remixed this song and we were gonna put that on this EP too, but didn't due to time constraints, but we'll definitely put it out, it's really good.” - Greg

The Mix
 My role with Together We Become Forever was to mix it. It would be the only piece of music I would mix for the EP with the exception of Drop which was not included with the initial 2008 US release. So with that in mind, I wanted to make sure my mix matched the sonic integrity of the rest of the music on the EP as best as I could. In my mind this would not be an easy task because all of the rest of the music was recorded with microphones in a sound studio. The song was written and performed in a midi based music program. None-the-less, in the end, I felt I was able to come close enough so that it could be mastered to match the rest of the songs. I honestly didn't stray very far from what Greg laid down. I wanted to stay as true as I possibly could to the rough mix he had sent me. The only difference being a few EQ and volume adjustments.
 I was really inspired by this piece of music. So much so that as Greg mentioned, I did work on a remix of it. He titled it, Together We Become Voltron, which I felt was appropriate. Maybe one day we will get around to putting it out into the world for you all to hear. For now the original piece will have to do.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Making of Bloodletting

The Song
“Bloodletting was a game changer for Spylacopa. Before the song was written the project was based more on electronic and experimental music. When Greg Puciato sent me the demo he had put together and suggested it be considered for Spylacopa it completely changed my perspective on the project’s trajectory. The song was also a real game changer for us because it would be the first song to feature vocalist, Julie Christmas.” 

Greg Puciato In The Gauntlet
Spylacopa Bandmate, Greg Puciato, had this to say about Bloodletting in an article for The Gauntlet in 2008. “A while into our writing process, when we were finding our way, we had been basically writing primarily with midi instruments, programming, making electronic music. At some point I was playing guitar, for fun, not thinking of Spylacopa really, and just came up with a chord progression and vocal melody simultaneously, that really seemed to go well together. I recorded the guitar part, and then days later, even after NOT recording the vocal, I would listen to the guitar part and would still hear the same exact vocal melody over top of it, another sign that something is working, that I should probably pay attention. So I recorded the vocals over it, did some really crazy screaming underneath it, and sent it to John, even though it was way different at the time than what we were writing. I think that was the real spark that set us off, where we realized we wanted to write guitar/vocal based songs together too, and that totally changed the vibe of this band from that point on and really opened the floodgates for us creatively, because for some reason we had been resisting doing what came naturally to us up to that point. John said that Julie heard the song and really wanted to do the verses, leaving me with the chorus and a bridge, which was fine with me. She did a great job and I think her voice and phrasing adds a great contrast to mine, and since the song essentially is a long continuous repeating of one motif musically, her added dynamic keeps it interesting.”

The Process
“Recording the song was an interesting process because we wanted to use some of what Greg had written and recorded on his own. So we had to work backwards from there and build the song around his original concept while incorporating the new bridge section of the song. After we had the song mapped out and the basic structure in place, we began laying down all of the elements of the song. Jeff Caxide's Bass tracks, which also included this cool delay overdub, Troy’s drum tracks which stayed pretty true to Greg's original idea, my rhythm, and overdub guitar tracks and finally Greg and Julie's vocals.” 

Photo by A.F. CORTES
The Voice
“Greg’s vocals happened pretty fast, it was a matter of him laying down the chorus, which he already had in the bag, and his vocal idea for the bridge section, which turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the song. The scream overdubs were already in place from the recording Greg had done on his own. It was a really great experience watching Julie track vocals for this song. I have never seen her record before, and although her process isn’t extremely complicated or unorthodox, there is a raw immediacy to her vocal performances that makes her a unique recording artist. There is a confidence and trust in her own ability that enables her to deliver something moving and impassioned when she performs and records. Her gasps, whispers and nuances are a thing of raw beauty in Bloodletting.”

The Mix
“Michael Barile mixed the song fairly quickly with just a few edits and remixes. One with and one without the screams in the chorus. We wound up going with the original concept and although I played a very small part in the creative process and the writing of this song, I am extremely proud of what we accomplished together with it. Bloodletting is a pivotal song that set Spylacopa off on a broader path than we had previously anticipated and I am really glad it did.” 


Monday, March 13, 2017

The Making of “Haunting A Ghost”

The Song
“I had several guitar ideas and a very rough sketch of an arrangement for what eventually became Haunting A Ghost, the first song off of the Spylacopa Debut EP / Spylacopa Redux. My plan was to work those ideas out in a rehearsal space with my friend and drummer, the late, Troy Young. At the time, Candiria was renting a space from a long time friend, Joshua Lozano, of the band Fashion Week, in South Williamsburg. It seemed at the time to be the most logical place for us to work. So we scheduled some dates and started working out each section of the song. Troy was a great drummer. His level of energy behind the kit gave the song a major jolt of intensity and after a few sessions we had something really solid to send to Greg and Jeff. I don't remember hearing any demos from either of them for this song come to think of it. From what I remember, we just booked dates that worked for each of their individual schedules and just went for it, starting with the bass.”

 The Bass
“Jeff Caxide is a very unique player. From a rhythmic perspective he is a solid-as-a-rock player but there is another aspect of his bass playing where he takes a more melodic approach and that is in my opinion, where he really shines.
A great example of this is in the ending section of the song. From a musical perspective, for me, the melody he came up with makes that whole section of the song. I couldn't imagine the song without it and yet in hindsight I never imagined anything like it being in the song before he played it for me for the first time in the recording studio.”

The Vocals
“Greg’s vocals were the last thing to be recorded for Haunting A Ghost. I was really excited to hear what he had planned for it and Greg really delivered. He is a great writer and a monster singer. I was really impressed with the verse idea he had but what he wrote for the chorus completely blew me away. Lyrically and melodically, he just knocked it out of the park. The vocals in the end of the song are really powerful. It sounds like Greg is purging or exorcising some unwelcome demon. It's heavy and really emotionally charged and it is one of my favorite moments on the album.” 

The Mix
“A mix can make or break a song and it was an imperative step of the process to get this mix right because it would set the tone for the rest of the recordings we had lined up. Having recorded and mixed many a session with Michael Barile, I knew he would come up big for these recordings and mixes.

When Mike finished the first pass of the mix, the level of the vocals was right where they needed to be. The overdubbed keys and additional guitar feedback tracks were sitting in a really nice place. The bass was filling out the bottom end nicely. The only thing that I felt was lacking a bit of aggression and edge was the drums. It's interesting how huge drums sound when you first begin the recording process. You think you will barely need to work on them at all in post-production, but once all of the guitar tracks are laid down, the bass has been recorded and you begin the mixing process, the drums start to sound really small. Mike added more compression, limiting, fine-tuned the guitars and bass, EQ'd the drums more and made the song rip! Besides some minor adjustments here and there, once we locked the drums in place it was pretty much done. We all put our stamp of approval on it and we were on to the next song.”

Pick up a copy of Spylacopa Redux HERE

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

In depth with John LaMacchia: Bonus track "Drop" on Spylacopa Redux

"Drop" was recorded around the same time that the Spylacopa EP was recorded and released in 2008, so I always considered it as part of that same body of work. It all happened when I came across a bunch of cassette tapes that my dad was storing for me in his garage for some years. Going through them, I came across one in particular that had this really strange, slowed down and pitched down drum beat and bass line. Apparently the cassette was used for one of my earlier recordings I did with my old Tascam 488, 8 Track Cassette recorder.

When you play one of these tapes in a regular cassette player, you will only hear part of what was recorded and it plays back way slower and pitched down, which is where the song title comes from. It really inspired me.

I loved the way it churned and twisted, like a giant crocodile writhing in mud. So I decided to record my cassette deck, playing the cassette tape, directly into my Boss BR1600 16 Track recorder. 

Then I began recording the rest of what became the finished piece. It is still one of my favorite home recordings and I hope fans dig it too.

Friday, January 27, 2017

In Depth with John LaMacchia : Making the album

In 2005 I had left Candiria for personal reasons for a time and decided I would pursue Spylacopa as a solo project based in electronic and experimental music. Around that same time, I went to see The Dillinger Escape Plan play at Virgin Mega Store in Times Square. Greg Puciato and I had become friends and he had asked me what I was working on having left Candiria, I told him about Spylacopa and he expressed interest in collaborating. We quickly began trading files and sharing music with each other. Not long after that, another friend of mine, Jeff Caxide of Isis (the band) moved to Astoria, Queens. I told him about working with Greg on this new project and he had some ideas of his own to contribute. Then I met Julie Christmas at the Tool/Isis show in New Jersey. Both guests of Isis, we wound up sitting next to each other and talked about being from Brooklyn. She then told me about her band, Made Out Of Babies. I gave it a listen and was blown away by her voice. I must have asked Julie about three times before she finally said yes to being part of the project.

(promotional image from 2008)

At that point Spylacopa began focusing more on writing in more of a rock / metal format and direction. I believe the excitement for us had become more about what the individual contributions would amount to. We began fleshing out the ideas that we were developing with drummer, Troy Young and soon enough we had a handful of songs sketched out. Greg, Julie and Jeff began developing their ideas further from the demos and before you know it we were ready to begin recording.

Spylacopa Redux is available for pre order HERE

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Spylacopa Spylacopa Redux

I am happy to announce that the masters and the artwork for the Spylacopa, self titled, vinyl reissue have been submitted to pirates press manufacturing and we are under way to getting this release out to fans! 
The album has alternate and extended versions of these songs plus a bonus track only previously available on the European release. The album has also been fully remastered and sounds better than ever thanks to Ken Schalk who did a great job on this and really breathed some new life into these recordings. There will be 500 of these puppies pressed up on standard weight, deluxe colored vinyl in three color configurations. Electric Blue and Grimace Purple A side B side, Black in Gold color in color and Transparent Kelly green with Easter Egg Yellow splatter. 
I also decided the artwork for the vinyl release should be different from the original CD digipack version but it should still keep the same concept intact. So, I reworked the concept and came up with something I feel works perfect for the vinyl format. I will reveal all of that soon enough. 
Now I am waiting on art proofs and test press copies of the album and a ship date. Once we have all of that taken care of we can set up pre orders. 
Pretty exciting!!  OK that is all for now. Thank you for supporting. 
 Here's a random photo of me to breathe some life into this boring blog post that only vinyl geeks will give a crap about.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer of Discontent

***Please read this entire blog with an English accent***
It's been a very busy winter and spring. The most recent Rising Pulse Records release, Spylacopa's Demon John went off without a hitch and was to my pleasant surprise, well received. I was hesitant only because Demon John was a bit of an experiment. Sort of an adventure in lo fidelity and limited resources, if you will. I do have plans to release one more video for Demon John before we bid it a fond farewell and allow it to exist in the world on it's own, meet new people and grow.

I also plan on re releasing the Spylacopa debut EP on vinyl. I feel a "10 inch, deluxe colored vinyl, with some additional bonus tracks would be perfect for it actually. I am in the process of securing some distribution for Rising Pulse Records in the great ol' US of A. So the EP may be the perfect way to kick off that relationship. There's other stuff to talk about but I really can't, or they will kill me. I will literally be killed by THEM. So, I guess you will have to wait a bit.  

-OK fish and chips, tea time and a Smiths song. Bye

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Spylacopa album February 3rd!!!

Big news! February 3rd, Spylacopa will release another full length album. I Will not spoil any other surprises just yet but I am really excited about this record! I feel it truly encapsulates what I set out to accomplish with it and once again, with the help of a great cast of guest musicians and artists, the record sounds fantastic! This one is personal and I would be thrilled if you gave it a listen when it comes out. It will be available first and foremost on band camp. The success of the previous Spylacopa release, Parallels, through that website has been shockingly fantabulous. So why not put our best foot forward?
 A short film / video for the opening album track will be released first. The first song on the album is sonically, pretty darn epic and I feel it's a great way to kick things off. It will be followed by two more short films / videos that will be released throughout the first quarter of the year if all goes as planned. The album is cinematic in nature and I am really excited about the small group of people I have been working with on these video / short film projects. So keep your eyes and ears peeled for some more information regarding the new Spylacopa album which will be out February 3rd!
Doh!! Almost forgot. Mark your calendars for February 3rd for a Spylacopa record release party at Lucky 13 Saloon in Gowanus. I will have some pretty cool exclusive items available just for that special occasion and for those who attend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

New news and stuff

Yeah it's been a minute.. so what. While we were away, some things happened. Meek Is Murder's Onward/Into The Sun 2XEP dropped in three gorgeous deluxe colored vinyl configurations. You can pick that up here Onward/Into The Sun if you have not. You totally should.. those dudes rule.

 Secondly, I co curated this art and music event at Saint Vitus Bar this past Thursday, called Special EffectsA Custom Painted Effects Pedal Art and Music Event. It was a gas. We had some cool stuff happen. My band Morn also played. Along with Moon Tooth and Godmaker. Who both rocked the hell out. You can check out Ryan and Shannon's Fuzzrocious Effects company here http://fuzzrociouspedals.com they have a bunch of the artists custom painted effects pedals available for purchase. 
Whats next you ask?? Well Candiria is going to play the Afro Punk music festival which should be a good time. We will be sharing the stage with Death Grips, Suicidal Tendencies and some other fools. Miss Lauren Hill performs on our day, along with Grace Jones and a bunch more fools.... Actin foolish. Afro Punk : August 22nd time of day TBA
Lastly, I am working on another Spylacopa release, it is at this time called, Not Like The Others. Rightfully so. For many reasons. Going to press up some more vinyl and do some custom silk screened artwork this time around. More about that soon. Until next time. -J