Grab your guitars and load the old van; we’re getting ready to hit the open road. Bring your cameras and plenty of film, road maps are a must and don’t forget your friends. Welcome to the world of Limbeck.
Their latest album, Hi, Everything’s Great saw release on Doghouse Records and the guys couldn’t be happier. Their album springs American nostalgia; in a world focused on the new, Limbeck aren’t afraid to go to the old for inspiration. Using the good old days and the many things we overlook in everyday life, Limbeck crafts music from everything and anything; resulting in their imprint of “pop-rock with a dash of country twang.”
Patrick and Robb were kind enough to take a few extra passengers through their journey, so buckle your seatbelt and grab that camera; we’re going along for the ride.[Interview with Robb MacLean and Patrick Carrie]
David: For the readers out there not familiar with your sound or music, how can you guys best describe it to them?
Patrick: As simple as this question sounds, the answer is everything but. We generally have come to describing our music as pop-rock with a dash of country twang. We’re not too country, but the average pop-rock listener would most likely see us as being kind of “rootsy”.
David: Robb, is it true that many of the lyrics you write are transpired from the photographs you take? Explain how you get lyrical inspiration from your photography?
Robb: Yep. It’s not always necessary, but I do like to do that. Photos you take are usually really nostalgic, good and bad. If I look at one that I’ve taken that reminds me of something that happened, it’s easier for me to write a complete, coherent song. There’s also been a time or two when I’ve written a song and then tried to take a picture of what was around me at the time, like for the song “In Ohio on Some Steps.” It’s not my favorite picture in the world, but I like it because it reminds me of that morning. I might just be way too into nostalgia!
David: In recording “Hi, Everything’s Great”, you guys didn’t use top of the line equipment for all the songs, you opted to use older equipment and older models. Why was this?
Patrick: Well, we’ve never been fans of the Mesa Boogie dual rectifier, or the Marshall JCM 2000 … all those new hi-tech amps. They didn’t do it for us… So we spent way too much money on a bunch of Fender amps from the 60’s and 70’s that gave us such great, natural tones, and when you’d crank ‘em, it would be the tubes working really hard, pushing the speakers really loud, instead of some bad pedal to do it for you. We were all really happy with how the guitars sounded on the record, and the bass too. Justin used a cool old Vox bass amp… and Matt used a whole room full of kick drums and snares to get some neat sounds.
Robb: It’s not like we were going for a lo-fi sound or anything, and it wasn’t a new idea or anything. The truth is new amps by Mesa Boogie, Marshall AND Fender just can’t compete with the old Fender/Marshall/Vox/Gibson/Sears/Alamo/Voice/you-name-it amps for our style of music (if we were a metal band it would be a different story.) They don’t make them the same way these days. The ones that are older than I am have 10 times more character. Each one sounds a bit different, even if they are the same model.
David: You guys have also incorporated the lap steel guitar, banjo, organ, and even the cowbell to your sound on the new CD. How did using all these new instruments come about?
Patrick: They were just kind of there, so it seemed like the right thing to do … actually it was a little more planned for some of the instruments. We had a friend Chris from the band Melee fly out to play some piano and organ parts here and there on the record. He’s an incredible player, and we had some great late night jams with him in the studio. There was an old 1950’s all-original Fender lap steel guitar that appeared in the studio one day, and we were looking for an instrument to tie together a melody at the end of one of our songs, so we tried some parts out with it, and we were very excited about it. We still are. The banjo was also just sitting around the studio. The cowbell … it’s the kind of thing you kind of hear before you actually put it on a song. You’ll be listening to the song and say, “Hey Matt, did you put cowbell on the bridge of this song? Cause I can totally hear it” after he denies doing it, that’s the sign it’s a must.
Robb: Sometimes it’s less musically motivated and more because of stuff like the Saturday Night Live sketch where Blue Oyster Cult’s producing a record with Christopher Walken telling them they need more cowbell. That’s not the real reason that Matt played a cowbell in ‘Gamblin’ Man’ but it would be a damn good reason if it was.
David: How have things changed for the band since signing with Doghouse Records after being a do-it-yourself band for years?
Patrick: Well, first off, Doghouse Records is an incredible label, with an amazing staff of people that really care about their bands, and really love the music. So it’s a great feeling to have such a strong force behind us. It’s a feeling we’re not used to, but we love every minute of it. Plus they have pretty kick ass barbeques. Doghouse is allowing us to be where we want to be; they’re with us every step of the way making sure everything is going smooth and how we want it to. We made a record that we’re very proud of, and now we’re touring as much as possible, and they’re helping to spread the word, and keep us out there. It’s incredible. Incredible is definitely the word for them.
David: Your 2001 release “This Chapter Is Called Titles” and brand new release, “Hi, Everything’s Great” were produced by Ed Rose of the Get Up Kids and Coalesce fame. How is the experience in working with Ed for years?
Patrick: Ed is an incredible person. We’ve recorded nearly everything with him since meeting and making our first record with him. Not only is he an amazing producer and engineer, but he’s the best to hang out with and get tours of the Lawrence (Kansas) and Kansas City areas among others. He knows all the best restaurants, a ton of crazy stories about everything, he has a great collection of amps and gear, a perfect musical ear, and his wife was nice enough to let us borrow her car for the time we were there so we didn’t have to drive our gigantic enormous van everywhere.
David: Speaking of that large van, you guys are big on traveling and seeing the country. Talk a little bit about touring and the opportunity to travel the open roads.
Patrick: We love touring. We love seeing new places. We love going someplace, and not knowing what’s around the next corner. It’s the best thing ever, hanging around with three of your best friends, driving around the country and playing music. It’s completely amazing. When we’re on tour, sometimes it’s very surreal to look around and realize exactly what you’re doing. It’s just too perfect.
Robb: Yep. It’s cool to meet people from other places too and stay at their houses and hang with their cats and dogs and be friends with them the next time you come through town. Also be friends with them on Friendster (I’m just kidding … ok, I was actually telling the truth, but I don’t like Friendster, I just don’t want to deny my friendship with someone when I get the friend request, so I make them my friend. Now all I do is get annoyed if anyone sends me messages via Friendster instead of regular email or calling me on the phone.)
David: On to friendships then, you guys are pretty tight with Adam and John from the band Home Grown. You and Home Grown even joined forces and put out one of your early releases on a split CD titled “Connection” on Adam Lohrbach’s Utility Records label. How did that friendship all come together years ago?
Patrick: Basically, we befriended them quite a long time ago, not through music, but through bad jobs. Bad jobs that you had to drive really far, and stand around on a corner while holding a sign pointing to a new housing development that needed some attention. As far as the CD, we consider the “Connection” EP to be our first real demo as a band.
Robb: Yeah, we don’t really include that in our discography since it’s a demo quality recording, and so far removed from what we’ve been up to in the last couple years.
David: Robb, when recording “This Chapter is Called Titles” you lost your voice and things looked down for the band. How did that bad experience eventually end up helping the band?
Robb: I didn’t really think of it as such a huge thing. I mean, it was a drag since we were so close to finishing the record. It worked out to our advantage though, because we went home for a couple weeks and got to listen to it with new ears and work out some changes that we might not have picked out before, had we just stayed and mixed it.
David: There was quite a gap for you guys between full length releases. During the time after releasing “This Chapter Is Called Titles” and “Hi, Everything’s Great”, how did you guys mature and progress as a band?
Patrick: Well, it took about three years between the two records… so we had a lot of time to think stuff out. I can definitely say our taste in music has changed a LOT. In the time that we had to make this record, it’s been very noticeable to see a given band put out a great record, and do very well in all areas … and then immediately a handful of bands will pop up and do the same thing and everyone buys into it. There’s no value for originality when every record label around can have their own version of a given band, and profit off of it. It’s pretty sickening. So basically, we got a bunch of Bob Dylan records, and Johnny Cash records… listening to bands like Big Star, the olds 97’s, The Eagles, and stuff like that. It’s all incredibly great driving music. So it was the soundtrack to our touring. Back then artists would have time to develop and progress, so there was no need for them to jump on the bandwagon and put out the same record as everyone else to keep afloat. We took note of that and we wrote what felt right, and what felt good. So our end product is a record that we’re very proud of.
Robb: When I started becoming broke from touring and paying rent at the same time, I got into a lot of music that I never thought I would ever like back in high school, because I would listen to what I could get for 35 cents at thrift stores. I’ve never been one to scour thrift stores that often, but I like them, and they’re a great place to buy records that you’ve never heard before. If you get one or two that you hate, they were only 35 cents or so, so it’s no big deal. So now I even like John Cougar Mellancamp and the boss. I’m still easing into the boss, I’m not 100% in the Bruce Springsteen club yet, but I like the idea that I’m listening to “the boss.” There’s nothing more American than “Born in the USA.” but, of course, if I pulled up to a stop light blasting it, I would probably get embarrassed and turn it down a bit.
David: You guys recently were able to tour with label mates The All-American Rejects. How was that experience and were there any really funny or wild moments from the tour you could share with us?
Patrick: The experience was amazing. It was definitely one of the best tours we’ve ever been on. They’re the sweetest guys, and an awesome band. They treated us like kings. We made some really great friends for life now. We hope to keep meeting up with them in the future. It’s hard to pick one funny moment … but when we got back into the US from Canada, we all went to Dirk & Emily’s house (the owners of Doghouse) in Toledo for a gigantic BBQ. It was a crazy day of playing with all the dogs (I think they have 4 of ’em), watching Super Troopers, playing baseball, and making s’mores … not to mention the incredible BBQ.
Later in the night, Justin from our band and Tyson from the Rejects decided it would be fun to light off this big firework called “Halley’s Comet”. It’s supposed to go 300 feet in the air, or something ridiculous like that. The only problem the stick to launch it off was broken … so Justin runs to find a stick from a tree, while Ty grabs some duct tape from inside. They end up taping a branch onto the rocket… and putting it right in the middle of the yard to light it off… They light it once … and nothing happens. So they light it again … and it slowly takes off … and it ends up that the stick is waaaay too heavy, so the rocket drifts up towards the roof, and then explodes. So basically, we almost lit the Doghouse Records house on fire. It was funny.
David: Along any band’s journey there are people or bands that really help you out. Who are some of the people or bands that have really helped Limbeck out along the way?
Patrick: Well although we just came in contact with them… everyone at Doghouse Records (Dirk, Emily, Sheffield, Dave, Laura) has been so amazing to us. Also, the All American Rejects for being way too damn good to us. An incredible promoter from up north, Eric Fanali, has treated us very well, and definitely helped us out more than his fair share. Our good buddy Nick Celi from Tucson … and everyone in Kansas, Ed Rose, Ron Hayes & the Black Lodge, Sean & Burton @ Bearpress and Mr. Greg Franklin. This is turning into a weird kind of thank you list, so perhaps I’ll stop here before I get gushy.
David: The album is out in stores, what’s next for Limbeck?
Patrick: First off trying to replace the words “incredible” and “amazing” with other words, because I now noticed that I use them too much. Touring like mad is next for us. Playing the songs off our new record for people to hear, and hopefully like. To be out in the world and meet people and see new places. And then somewhere in there work on some new songs … what about you Robb?
Robb: I’ve already replaced those words with “ridiculous” and “rediculously.”