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Published: 2013/06/21
by Dean Budnick

SCI: The Zac Brown Incident, New Album, Summer Tour

Photo by Brian Spady

You recorded it in studio?

Yeah, we kind of did it in conjunction with our rehearsals last December for New Year’s. We set up at a local studio here in Boulder, Immersive Studios, and spent half the time rehearsing for New Year’s and half the time cutting basic tracks. And in January, early February we spent another couple weeks finishing up the tracking and Jerry was there for that. So yeah, it’s getting mixed, putting the final touches on it and again, what a great thing for us to have a new studio release for us coming out.

Have people heard the songs played live yet?

Most of the tunes have probably been played out in the last twelve months, though maybe they’ve only been played a handful of times. Certainly going into the studio the idea was “Here are our newest, freshest tunes, let’s really groom them into little masterpieces. Let’s really break them down and build them back up in the studio in the most creative way, to really support the song.”

The thing that I think we all enjoy about the studio is the creative process. The idea of being able to take a song and really put it under the microscope and strip away the excess, figure out what is the real essence of the song and kind of rebuild it in the studio. From a creative standpoint it’s really exciting and it’s really a telltale, eye-opening experience for the band to kind of dig in on song structure and figure out what makes it work. So for us I think it’s really energizing the band creatively to spend some time in the studio working on a new record.

Will you put that out on your own label?

Yeah, it’ll be a SCI Fidelity release.

Kyle also mentioned taking some of the live improv and turning it into new music for a record. Does this resonate at all and if so, what came of that project?

I do—we tracked a bunch of stuff from summer, fall, New Year’s run, with the idea of maybe trying to use some of those live tracks for the upcoming release. When it came down to it, we sort of had two camps of songs: we had things that were more in the EDM, electronica range and then we had the straight ahead rootsy songs, for lack of a better word. And so we decided that we would treat them as two different projects. So the tracking that we did at the end of the year, in January and February was primarily not the electronica stuff, it was the more rootsy stuff and we decided we would go ahead and bring in Jerry Harrison and give it a more traditional treatment. Kind of scrap the live idea and start from scratch with these.

Now there’s talk of the next release, which will probably be more of the EDM stuff that we’ve been working on. The idea was to maybe build off of the live tracks we already had and bring in a live producer to help us groom those into a more dance-oriented release. That’s probably the next release and I’m not sure of the schedule on that. You know it’s exciting that we’ve got so many ideas and different kinds of tunes coming out and we’re writing new material all the time in all these different genres. So yeah, look for more exciting things after the album release.

Beyond String Cheese and Grateful Grass what else do you have coming up?

I did a gig with The Contribution here in May in Denver and we’ve been in the studio tracking. We did five more tunes in Denver in April. So that project continues to work sporadically in the studio and live. That’s another really exciting thing. The songwriting that Tim [Carbone] and Jeff [Miller] and Phil [Ferlino] have been doing is really top notch. That band is different enough from anything else I do that it’s really challenging and exciting. So hopefully that release can get wrapped up. I really don’t know the time frame on that but I think we’re hoping by the end of the year.

Is Tim [Carbone] producing that?

It’s more or less Tim in charge of the production there. It’s definitely a group effort but Tim is leading the troops on that one.

Your summer tour kicks off in Telluride. By that point it’ll be about six months since String Cheese will have performed on stage. Can you talk about the process of ramping up for a tour?

The way we’ve done it recently since we’ve been playing sporadically is right before we do play again, we try to get somewhere around fifteen, twenty days in rehearsals. So it’s a fairly labor-intensive process going over the album tunes, making sure we have the arrangements down. Then we start to drop some setlists, some playlists of tunes we definitely want to hit this summer, maybe bring some things out of the catalogue we haven’t played in a while. Maybe put a few things to rest, talk up some new covers. We’re going to hit the ground running with Telluride, right into Electric Forest and from there it’s Austin, Forecastle, Red Rocks, Horning’s. It’s just about every weekend once we hit the ground running. It looks like we have a big fall coming up as well.

Can you say something about Electric Forest and how that’s evolved?

Yeah, well one thing talking to Jeremy Stein, our manager, who’s really the man behind Electric Forest, they’re expanding the forest this year, as great as it was last year. I believe he said the forest is going to be four times as large as it’s ever been before. So that festival has really blossomed and I think this year again will be much more impressive than it’s been in years past. I think we feel really fortunate to still be associated with this one and of course it’s Jeremy our manager who’s the brainchild of it all. The experience there is unlike anything I’ve ever been to, with the forest itself and the emphasis on great art installations. It feels like it’s totally cutting edge. The music is fantastic, the site’s fantastic and I’m just really happy to see that stuff continue to grow and mature into an even bigger and better realm this year.

Ever since your very first year of Horning’s, I’ve talked about coming out to see you there. If you close your eyes is there a particular year or a moment that jumps out at you?

Well every year there has really built upon the last. I’m being told this may be the last one that we’re having, after talking to Bob Horning that we may not be able to do it again next year or for the foreseeable future. I think we’ve simply outgrown the site, honestly. The talk is that this could be the last one for the foreseeable future. If you want to get out there, Dean, this is your chance.

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