Monday, October 10, 2011
Matt Jordan: No matter where they live,
These United States at home in Lexington
By Matt Jordan
I’m not sure if These United States would be technically considered a Lexington band given that only three of the members live in the Bluegrass. Even so, it’s hard not to feel like they’re neighbors given how much time they spend in — and how much love they throw toward — Lexington. The five-piece band is putting a bit of polish on their fifth record with Lexington producer Duane Lundy. It’s their second time completing an album with Lundy; they also teamed up on Crimes, the band’s second album. The band was kind enough to let me take some photos of their latest recording session at Lundy’s Shangri-La recording studio this summer. Singer, songwriter and DC-resident Jesse Elliott was nice enough to answer some questions as well.
What keeps bringing you guys back to Lexington to record?
We got a good hideout here, on the edge of town; just a warehouse and a parking lot to throw a football in and an auto mechanic across the parking lot to fix the brakes on the van – all the things you need when you’re off the road for a week. Closest place we all have to a home, really, with Robby and Justin and Duane and Dave all here, plus a bunch of other killer musicians we can call up in a hot minute when we need some ideas for keys or horns or anything else.
How did you come to meet and work with Robbie, Justin and everyone else from Lexington?
I first met Robby through Mark Heidinger, when they were playing in The Apparitions together. We were playing our first TUS show in D.C., me and Mark, and we needed a third to complete the power trio. Robby is a very powerful man. Justin came along next, via Robby. His power is subtler, more refined, the power of a crouching cheetah behind the bush who is about to maim you, gracefully.
How did the band’s relationship with Duane start? What albums did you record with him? What albums did you demo (but not record) with him?
We’ve worked here at Shangri-La off and on ever since Crimes, the second album we released, in 2008 – so really almost since the beginning of the band. We’re recording our fifth album with him now. I mean, the second full album we’ve done with Duane, but our fifth album as These United States. Duane has a certain kind of power, too, which is maybe like the power of a well-attired Star Wars bounty hunter, been around the mystical block, but street instincts, too. Deep space power.
What are a few songs that will for sure be on the album that you’ve worked on in Lexington?
I think we’ve played at least a few of these new songs live at Cosmic Charlie’s once before, maybe “Not Gone Tonight” and “The Angel’s Share,” if memory serves correctly. Which, of course, it never does.
Were you/will you be recording final takes in Lexington or were those demos?
As we speak. Tom’s steel part on “Angel’s Share,” actually – the one we were just talking about. We’re finishing it all up here at Shangri-La, though. This is a place of much power, this mystical place on the edge of town across from the auto mechanic.
Matt Jordan of Lexington is a the creator of Youaintnopicasso.com, a music blog he started in 2004 as a freshman at the University of Kentucky. His regular updates about music and musicians, interviews, concert reviews and industry news have gained him a wide national audience and helped make him an opinion leader in the music industry.