Interview Abe Vigoda: ‘It’s Better Than Working In Retail’

Juan Velazquez (guitar) tells us about the band’s new album, ‘Crush’.

Due to a few ‘technical difficulties’, this interview with Juan Velazquez (guitar) from Abe Vigoda has had to be pieced together from notes, so this is a representation of the conversation that was had on two crappy phones, about the band’s new album ‘Crush’ and, well, all sorts.

So you have an album coming out soon, what was it like to record this one, third time’s a charm?
We do have an album coming out in September, called ‘Crush’. We recorded it in the beginning of February in L.A. at Infrasonic with Chris Coady who mixed, produced and engineered Beach House. We knew each other through a mutual friend and it was awesome that he wanted to work with us and really liked us. It was the longest time we had ever spent making a record, which was really cool. We did it the right way, rather than record wherever we could, popping in and out when we had the time. This was far more meticulous. Chris really knows his stuff, like his sound, musically and otherwise, it was a great matchup. The record went in a very different direction than we expected for a number of reasons. Dane, the new drummer, also does electronics and because of this we really stripped down the songs. It’s not really minimal but instead of having crazy constantly repetitive guitar lines it became simple and clean.

It took us two weeks to finish laying out the tracks. It was like 12-13 hours a day non-stop, it was a really intense recording session. We could have easily done more than two weeks, but I’m glad we only had that two weeks, it allowed us to not go too crazy, but it was long enough that we could really be perfectionists about it. We really spent the time making sure the sounds were the best possible ones recorded. It was sort of like a puzzle, a very long puzzle. It was totally a different experience from recording our other stuff because we did that all live and then over dubbed the vocals. Before now, we have never recorded like that I liked it way better. It sounds cooler, obviously not so live, and sort of more poppy.

It was in pieces, every persons part was recorded separately and then we chose the best takes and that was why the songs melded together better, we could choose everyone’s best and put them together rather than trying to find the best overall take. This all made it easier to piece it together and thus definitely easier to edit even though it took a lot longer. We all felt impatient because of the fact that the record was in little pieces but then we left it and went on tour while Chris took it back to New York to get mixed. As soon as we heard them mixed we could really understand what all the songs sounded like. I know it’s more common to record like that but we never really had the time and money to do it!

You guys come from a DIY show culture, what are your favorite venues to play?
Last night we played The Smell, it’s been a long time because of touring and I forgot how much fun it is to play there! We have to work with the sound, tweak it to make it sound right… so different from being on tour with Vampire Weekend where we walked in and everything had been done for us. That’s not always as fun as playing The Smell; there you get your friends, kids, and all sorts of stuff around.

I think we like a combination of the type of venue. We like The Smell because of the folk who run it and we like to play shows in LA especially now that we are over 21. It can be tough though, we forget how sucky it is to want to go to shows and not be let in. I really like the small venues because you get folks who really want to see you rather than a bar where people are just sort of whatever about the music.

On tour it’s really cool to play because the sound quality is so good. It kind of has to be though, you are in town one night and might not ever go back, or wont go back for a really long time and you want that night to be as good as humanly possible so you really make an impression. Though we also played a few house parties and those are always fucking cool. I think before this record though, we would have looked down on the larger better sound venues just because we were into a more raw sound. However now, with all the electronics we got really into sound and tone, all because of how we recorded. It’s now comforting to know that some places sound really good. Though, always the raw punk show is always the most fun to play just because of the energy of the audience. No matter what, we are not into the large theater-like venues; the audience is so detached.

You toured with Vampire Weekend, how did you feel being compared to them so much?
Kind of annoyed actually, when we first listened to them, we were all so confused about the comparison. Though it was probably no matter whom we got compared to that were our contemporaries, we would have been annoyed. It almost felt like people were saying we were ripping them off and we had been making music just as long as they had. They are also so much preppier sounding than us! Then we went on tour with them and got to know them, as people and musicians and they are really nice awesome guys. When their second album came out, I was really into it, we all had favorite songs we would watch them play live.

Now that you have played with someone pretty huge, who else in all of musical history would you have liked to play with?
Laughs everyone in the band would have a completely different answer to that. That’s a really hard question! I really want to answer this well; I am literally looking at my records right now. I think I would be really into going on tour with Depeche Mode in the 80’s, like around the ‘Violator’ era. That would be awesome.

Have you ever been interested in doing anything else with your music? Like scoring a movie or an art project or something?
It would be amazing to score a movie. If we had more time, I feel like it would be a classy move. I didn’t realize it until the credits but my friend Owen did the score to that Cameron Diaz movie The Box. That was crazy seeing that. It was also Owen who had told me to see Southland Tales and I watched it and was like it would be awesome to score a movie, to work with a director you really liked. I think that Rock musicians would really do well scoring Sci-Fi or Horror movies like Dawn of the Dead… I could see scary disco music being an awesome score to a horror movie, I’d be into that.

Now that you have done a few interviews, what are your favorite and least favorite questions to be asked?
We once did an interview in Vancouver with this guy who was really good at digging up stuff to ask questions about. Like did really intense research, sort of like, wait, how did you know that?! He asked about books and art and stuff like that, he asked me about Douglas Coupland and I love him. I was like; whoah he must have found my old MySpace profile or something. I liked that those questions, everything, was surprising, it was a bit freaky. I also like when people ask about stuff outside of music, that way we can geek out about other stuff as well. People ask what you are listening to and I’m like, um nothing. In the car I listen to talk radio, and I read, I love music it is what I love to do in life, but sometimes it gets overwhelming and you have to step back.

So what books are you reading then?
Haha, I didn’t mean to goad you into those questions!

Nah, it’s an interesting thing to ask.
I’m borrowing a compilation of Ray Carver short stories at the moment. I have read like every Douglas Coupland novel back to back, I feel like it’s coke, or candy or something really addictive and I needed a break. So I borrowed Cathedral. I needed a break from gay violence and cannibalism and started to read about people in relationships fighting, it was a relief.

I read a lot on tour like books on tape. We listened to Hey Nostradamus! That sucked up a few drives. Everyone is like reading at the same time, it’s cool. I also listened to Anne Heche’s autobiography by myself on my iPod. It’s really good, it’s called Call Me Crazy. I thought it was going to be terrible, the cover was like a beauty shot of her in front of a sunset, I assumed that it was going to be a book that makes her look great. That was the opposite of what that book was. She is blunt, brutal, honest, talks all about this crap that happened to her, it’s great. She is legitimately crazy. It was a bit heavy to listen to it in the van, listen to her talking about the time she was molested. We also listen to This American Life, that kills a quick hour. The other thing is that bands give us their albums when we are on tour. It’s great, we can really listen and get stoked about new music. Tour can be brutal but it’s also great, and it’s certainly better than working retail back at home.

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