Interview: Gordon Robertson of The Damn Choir (A Creatures of Habit Kickstarter Review)

Interview: Gordon Robertson of The Damn Choir (A Creatures of Habit Kickstarter Review)

Having recently returned from a recording session in New York with producer Bryce Goggin, Gordon Robertson talks about The Damn Choir's forthcoming album release as well as an ambitious Kickstarter campaign (complete with several levels of incentives for fans that choose to participate) designed by the local artists to crowd-source their new project and tour...

One of The Damn Choir's most compelling characteristics musically has always been a unique ability to meld contemporary elements of folk, rock and more with a nod in the direction of a more classic sensibility - in terms of crafting pop hooks but also in regard to the actual process of recording itself.  It's a dichotomy that served the band well during a recent trip to New York for work on their forthcoming February release Creatures of Habit.

"It was amazing... We have never had the chance to record an album like that...  We got the chance to record an album the right way - analog" confirms singer, lyricist and guitarist Gordon Robertson.

In early September, over the course of three weeks in Brooklyn, The Damn Choir got to work recording the followup to their 2012 effort You're My Secret Called Fire.

"When we found out we had three weeks to record an album, we thought it was too much time" says Robertson of the band's studio experience.  "During the recording process, we were really busy. We did the album live - even my vocals - which was terrifying. But Bryce Googin is such a lighthearted, fun guy that it helped with the nerves. It was unbelievable being at Trout Studio... It didn't feel real."

Producer and engineer Bryce Goggin owns Trout Recording in New York and was at the helm as producer of the recent Damn Choir sessions.  Goggin is most well-known for his work mixing the 1994 Pavement album Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain but has also worked in various capacities on projects from a number of similarly like-minded, guitar-oriented nineties artists like The Lemonheads, Dinosaur Jr. and Spacehog not to mention several releases by The Ramones.

Earlier this month, The Damn Choir core trio of Robertson (acoustic guitar/lead vocals), Katy Myers (cello/vocals) and Brandon Stein (bass/vocals) were augmented live on the Double Door stage by Otis Duffy on electric guitar and Marty Kane on drums for a fuller, more intense live sound.  It would stand to reason that Goggin's resume, coupled with the fact that this lineup is the same one that performed on the recent Creatures of Habit recording sessions in New York (and will continue on the road with the trio in 2014), could indicate a nod by The Damn Choir in the direction of a slightly louder sound on the new tracks.

The Damn Choir album art

But volume is only the beginning of a growth in songwriting that Robertson attributes to a more collaborative writing environment and more.  "The new album was written as a band, whereas our other albums I wrote.  [Plus] we are much louder... We also just added keys to the band" he explains.

But recording an album in the manner in which The Damn Choir did isn't necessarily the easiest or most cost-effective thing to accomplish in the continually changing music industry landscape circa 2013 - especially for an independent, local band.  While not ruling out a label release, The Damn Choir seems to be eyeing a February self-release for Creatures of Habit and have put together an ambitious Kickstarter campaign to help make that happen.

"The money will be used for publicity, for a radio campaign, and of course for pressing the album to vinyl and CDs. If we surpass our $7,000 goal, we're going to use the rest of the money to prepare ourselves as much as possible for the tour to support Creatures Of Habit" reads a portion of the band's Kickstarter mission statement.

In an effort to crowd-source the new release, the band has put together a unique array of incentive packages starting as low as only ten dollars that ranges anywhere from a copy of the new album on vinyl, CD or via digital download to a private home performance where the band even cooks a fan dinner (provided that fan resides in the midwest).  Running through the end of Wednesday, November 27th, The Damn Choir Kickstarter campaign could provide the perfect holiday gift for the music lover in your household.

As one of Chicago's most talented local bands, 2014 is shaping up to be an interesting year for The Damn Choir - and if the strength of the band's performance of new material alongside Rah Rah earlier this month at Double Door is any indication, the batch of songs they've crafted for Creatures of Habit could signal the beginning of a productive year that goes far beyond the typical album release cycle of tour, drink, dance - repeat.  "[We're so excited] to put out this album.  I've never been so proud of anything I've done" asserts Robertson.

*** This interview conducted via email by Jim Ryan (@RadioJimRyan)

(More information on The Damn Choir Kickstarter campaign after the jump)

(Jim also hosts "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" Sundays at 6PM central on WIMS and WHFB - streaming at wimsradio.com and via the free TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet)

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The Damn Choir 
Creatures of Habit Kickstarter Campaign
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Goal: $7,000
Deadline: 11:59PM CST on Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Incentive packages: Starting at only $10

Click HERE to pledge
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    Jim Ryan

    Jim Ryan has written about music in print and online for a variety of Chicagoland publications for over fifteen years. In addition to duties filling in as Traffic Anchor on CLTV or in the helicopter on NBC 5, you can also catch him Sunday nights at 6PM central as host of "The Rock N' Roll Radio Program" on AM 1420 WIMS and AM 1060 WHFB (streaming at wimsradio.com and via the TuneIn Radio app for the smart phone or tablet). Jim has also worked locally for WXRT-FM, lives within walking distance of the Metro and is an avid White Sox and Blackhawks fan whose first live concert experience came at Comiskey Park in 1984 during the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.

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