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Published: 2012/03/17
by Sam Davis

The End of That for Plants and Animals

What made you choose to return to that studio?

There was definitely a special vibe. It’s totally out of a fancy world that we never imagined. It’s like a world-class facility—pretty insane. [Olivier] who owns it lives in Montreal. He’s seen us play and is kind of a fan. He’s got a place [in Montreal] and a studio in Paris. He’s been involved in the music world for 40-50 years. So that basically came about because he made it possible for us. And some other Montreal bands have recorded at this studio outside of Paris. It’s the kind of place that once you go a couple of times you feel like you’re going home. It’s a home. It’s a studio, but it’s also a home. Everybody gets their own room. It’s like going back to your family cottage or something. It’s got the most welcoming, relaxed…it’s a special place to even hang out at. So to actually be able to work in the studio, which is a very, like I said a world-class studio…The equipment is just pretty insane and so are the options in terms of where you want to record.

Some of the drums we did upstairs in the living room. With the hall and doors open, it got much bigger reverberation. We also did some in the basement, which is more kind of a 70s style, isolated, no reverb, no echoes at all. Super dry, super dead. So there’s just lots of choices. And working with our engineer, who tracked us the first time…his name is Lionel Darenne. We met him the first time and then he really liked working with us and we liked working with him. He ended up working with us on this whole record. He did 14 days with us back to back.

It wasn’t easy at first. Things weren’t really clicking. It’s hard to describe it, but it was one of those circumstances where because of the pressure, you know, having 2 weeks booked at a place, it wasn’t easy. It was hard. As time goes by, it gets harder and harder. So we’re trying to deal with that, trying to figure out what’s wrong and why we don’t sound right. Why they’re all popping. Why it doesn’t seem to work. And we wrestled with that for a while and Lionel was a huge part of that, of basically not only recording us, but being our therapist trying to make it work for us. And ultimately it did. Largely, I think he was a part of that and a huge part of the sound too.

Reminds me of Exile on Main Street sessions, where they recorded in a mansion in France.

Yeah! It’s totally the same deal; literally the same thing.

Did you guys have any special guests, like Gram Parsons during the Exile sessions, stop by?

Actually, we didn’t have any musical visitors, but Nic [Basque] and [Matthew] Woodley’s girlfriends both hung out for awhile while we were working and they both sang on a couple tracks. The song “The End of That” was kind of a turning point. A funny thing happened when we were working. We were super stressed out and things weren’t really going well. We were worried about time and running out of time. Then we got to work one day, kind of determined to get some work done. We had a talk like “Okay, we’ve gotta turn this around and get some work done.” So we started working and playing and then it was a holiday in France, kind of like a Labor Day, and the neighbor came over completely irate and just really angry that we were making so much noise. So Olivier was like, “Look guys, we can’t really play drums upstairs. We can’t do this.”

We thought it was the end. Could things be going any worse? Then we laughed, things were getting so ridiculous, like, “Wow, that’s just crazy.” It kind of alleviated the stress somehow. Then we had dinner and were like “Okay, if we can’t work today upstairs then let’s move everything downstairs.” We hadn’t really had the opportunity to use the dead, 70s style drum booth.

So we moved everything downstairs that night after we had dinner. We all laughed about how fucked we were. So we took everything downstairs and we started setting up for the song that we hadn’t even played yet. Everybody had heard it, it’s three chords. We started setting up and Woodley ended up playing, not on his kit, just basically a kick, a snare, and a high-hat. We put him in between the two glass sliding doors. In between the control room and live room. So he’s wedged in this little aquarium. Nic played some sort of weird amp, not this normal amp, this strange, old almost like a harmonica amp. Nic and Woodley’s girlfriends came down to sing back up and dance around. I ran upstairs and told Olivier to get down here, “you’re playing bass,” I said. He came down and we went through the song twice. I think that was it and it was done. It opened the door to us being happy again.

Can you talk about how you decided on the album title, The End of That?

It just kind of worked. We never had a title track. It sums up some of the lyrical content. In a way, it sums up what were going through recording at that moment. That’s the end of, essentially, not communicating properly. I think that is what it’s referring to. It’s not referring to the relationship [between the band]. It’s the end of me or us not actually saying what we need to say and hopefully that’s the end of that and we can move forward and get on with things. I think that’s why it made sense to title it that. It summed up some stuff that we were going through as a band, trying to communicate with one another. Some stuff that I was going through when I wrote the songs, just in my life. I think everybody can relate to that.

Do you think all those challenges in the studio brought you closer together as a band?

Yeah. We get along really well. We’re not a rocky, emotional group. We support each other and work really well together. I think it definitely brought us closer together.

We haven’t really established a very homogenous sound. We’ve gone all kinds of different places. I think this record is coming closer to us owning our sound. I feel like we made a record that really sounds like us, as opposed to the record before this one and the record before that. You can’t do anything that doesn’t really sound like you, but you can do things that don’t necessarily stand the test of time in your own band. You can do songs that you record and never end up playing again.

We wrote a bunch more songs that didn’t go on the record so we were actually able to build something that made sense, as opposed to the record before, where everything happened really fast and we didn’t have enough music. We just weren’t making the right choices. This record, if anything, we kind of grew up a little bit. We’re learning more how to do what we want. Whenever you finish a record you think “Oh my god, there were so many things I could have done differently,” when you finally get to the end. I don’t think that has changed at all. We finished this record and I was completely like, “Oh my god, there were so many things I could have done differently” or that I want to do differently in the future. We’ve only made three records, but we’re really just getting started. This record is kind of the beginning of how I think our next few records will be. I feel confident that we’re coming into our own. We’re owning our music in a way that we haven’t before. I think this record is us being a little bit more comfortable with what we’re doing.

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