Welsh rockers Buffalo Summer are gearing up for the release of their latest opus; ‘Desolation Blue’, vocalist Andrew Hunt talks us through the recording process and how they managed to get a few famous names involved.
On your Facebook page you list “Music, football, boxing” as “personal interests”- the next few months are going to be tough for sure! Have you cancelled Sky/BT Sports already?!
“Ha ha we don’t have them as we can’t afford them. Although my brother Gareth (drummer) and I have season tickets for Swansea so we go to every home game providing we are not on the road.”
Onto the new album ‘Desolation Blue’ which is almost upon us, when a band gets to their third album, is there still nerves in the run up to the release?
“No nerves just a sense of relief that it will finally get released three years after making it.”
The album sounds bloody massive doesn’t it! What was the first playback like for the band?
“We came back from the studio with the tapes and it sounded pretty huge before it was even mixed so we are thrilled with the results.”
Looking at some of the details behind the recording process; recorded in 5 days, live at Rockfield Studios and Monnow Valley Studio in Wales, produced again by Barrett Martin and engineered by Tom Manning – these are all mightily impressive details; looking back, how was the recording process? Did the fact that it was recorded in 5 days mean that it’s only now that you are able to take everything in? I mean…Barrett Martin! Mad Season/Screaming Trees Barrett Martin!
“Yeah everything was done in 5 days. We set up in the live room and even the vocals were all tracked live which is not done very often by bands nowadays. We wanted to capture the electricity in the air and I think it really worked. The recording process itself was pretty straight forward at the time as we spent a week in pre-production with Barrett at a cottage in West Wales. There were no distractions… just a log fire, beds and a kitchen. By the time we got to Rockfield we were firing on all cylinders so it literally was a matter of pushing the record button. We had already worked with Barrett too on the last album Second Sun. I was a huge fan of the screaming Trees and Mad Season so it was an amazing experience to soak up his wisdom on another record.”
Peter Buck from REM guests on ‘Desolation Blue’, playing both the mandolin and his trademark 12 string guitar. He has also guested with Screaming Trees in the past, was it simple to get him on-board?
“In the studio I said to Barrett this song (Last To Know) would sound great with a mandolin in the way that REM use the instrument. Barrett is a friend of Peter’s and he made the call. A totally surreal moment. A few months later he was playing mandolin on the record and also 12 string guitar on The Bitter End”.
It is magical, now another guest is of course Kelby Ray from The Cadillac Three, where did the connection come from?
“We toured with The Cadillac Three the first time they ever came to the UK and another two times consequently. We built up a good rapport with them on the road and kept in touch ever since. Hit The Ground Running sounded like it needed something to lock into the main rhythm so we asked Kelby to lay down some licks and he slayed it.”
He certainly did, now, Screaming Trees/Mad Season/REM/The Cadillac Three, not only an illustrious line-up, but also quite varied, is this a testament to how widespread a demographic that Buffalo Summer can appeal to?
“I suppose it is in a way. We’re always trying to forge forward and not the make the same record twice.”
The variety on the album is immense; for instance, the cracking guitar intro to ‘The Power And The Greed’ is (at least to these ears) pure John Squire, then the track breaks into an almighty groove, ‘Hit The Ground Running’ must surely find a home on Radio 2, and ‘The Bitter End’ has a grunge feel to it.
“Wow no-ones ever mentioned John Squire to us before but he’s a great guitarist in his own right. I’m glad you hear something in the music that we never considered. I grew up a massive grunge head so I’m glad you can hear that in the music too. A lot more of our individual influences came to the fore on this record.”
I’ve been listening to the Temple Of The Dog album quite a lot recently, ‘Pilot Light’ could have been an outtake from those sessions, it’s beautiful.
“That is music to my ears. A major influence on me. Yes, it’s one of my favourites on the album too. I love how it closes the album and the ending just drifts off into a sonic oblivion.”
It is an amazing track for sure. In what ways has the band changed since the release of previous album ‘Second Sun’? Incidentally do you know that the only copy of the album for sale on Amazon has an asking price of £26!? If only you could charge what private sellers are asking!
“Ha Ha I didn’t know that. Good luck to them! We have naturally evolved as song writers since the last album and we never decide to write a certain way. It’s best to release what naturally comes to you.”
‘Desolation Blue’ is quite an intriguing album title, is there a particular story behind it, and the striking album artwork?
“Yeah it’s a lyric from the first track on the album “The Power & The Greed. Barrett mentioned Desolation Blues would make a great album title but we didn’t want people to think it was a blues album. So we dropped the S and Desolation Blue was born. To us it represents this collision course we are on as humans, with the destruction of the planet and society.”
What frustrates you about the current-day music business? What makes you think “if only…”
“The music industry is full of absolute reptiles. The good people are far and few between. Inefficiency is really frustrating and more than often people are full of shit.”
You’ve opened for quite a few decent sized bands, but what band out there at the moment do you feel would be the perfect band for Buffalo Summer to open for?
“The Black Crowes, The Cult or Pearl Jam.”
Who will be the next UK band to break out in the way that Massive Wagons has?
“Without a shadow of a doubt, fellow Welsh band Florence Black will absolutely clean up.”
Florence Black; just one of many amazing bands coming out of Wales at the moment, lastly, what was the last gig you attended as a fan?
“Mark Lanegan in Bristol. In my opinion the man is an absolute genius. He’s always forging ahead.”
‘Desolation Blue’ is released March 27th, more information available here.
Interview – Dave
Photo Credit -Steph Byford