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Behind the Scenes with The Latenight Callers

Behind the Scenes with The Latenight Callers

For the next few weeks, we’ll be featuring artists playing the MidCoast Takeover fundraiser shows, sponsored by Midwest Music Foundation.

It’s 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, which for this reviewer typically equates to a dog on each side and blanket after blanket piled upon my bed. Instead, I’m braving the brisk winter air of Midtown to talk with a band whose name is acutely contradictory to my being awake.
If you don’t know them, you have to wonder what The Latenight Callers are really like, especially during the early morning hours (relatively speaking). You also might be wondering what the band’s new recording sounds like. To provide a quick perspective: the four members (Ms. Ellen [O’Hayer] was unavailable for comment that day) were awake and pleasant, and the upcoming LP leaves nothing to be desired for this skyrocketing Kansas City group.
I met with Ms. Julie, Mr. Mac, Mr. Nemeth, and Mr. Combs at Weights and Measures Soundlab, where they’ve been tracking with veteran engineer (and musician) Duane Trower (currently of Olivetti Letter; formerly of Season To Risk, Doris Henson, Overstep).
“The character of Duane’s gear helps us portray the character of the band, in the essence that everything is out of another time,” said baritone guitarist Krysztof Nemeth. Trower boasts an array of obscure, vintage gear, as well as equipment he’s built himself, which the band believes help keep its sound as unique as possible.
Unlike the band’s previous two EP recordings (The Latenight Callers and Easy Virtues). the full-length will be mixed by Trower (who mastered Easy Virtues) instead of recorded by Nemeth. Keyboardist/electronic sound guru Nick Combs mentioned that Trower seemed to be the perfect fit for the band’s upcoming album. “We needed someone that wouldn’t make us sound precious. With Duane’s own experience as a musician, we knew he’d give us the heftier sound we’ve been looking for.” Recording in a studio has given the band the freedom to explore its music, most of which will be new and some of which will be re-recorded from the first EP.
The new full-length, still untitled, seems to be more of a collaborative effort than previous recordings, with tracks built by each individual member to serve each song. The Callers’ first EP was written, produced, and performed by Nemeth and frontwoman Julie Berndsen, before the other three members were added to the mix. After 3 years, the band has gained a collective maturity and a strong foothold in the local scene, and the new tracks show that each member knows what element to bring to write a song that is uniquely The Latenight Callers.
Berndsen noted, “Everyone has the goal of creating a cohesive song, but we had to really think about… does each piece complement the particular song?” Berndsen and O’Hayer recorded their vocals in a session after each instrument had been laid down, which, according to the group, enhanced the emotive aspects of each track.
“With recording, we have to step back from our individual roles and look at it from a distance to gain perspective of what our audience will recognize and respond viscerally to,” said Nemeth. Combs added, “Instead of just one person’s vision, it’s all five of us. We’re listening to the arrangements and orchestration instead of just thinking about ‘my part.’”
With plans to release this album in the spring and big shows in the works, 2013 promises to be another tremendous year for The Latenight Callers. Stay tuned.
Editor’s note: Bassist Gavin Mac was available for comment, but settled upon curling up in the studio’s comfortable leather couch and settled in for a long winter’s nap. Left-handed bass players are prone to hibernation at this and all other times of year.
The Latenight Callers will be performing some of the songs from its upcoming album this Friday, February 1, at Czar Bar, for the second MidCoast Takeover fundraiser show. The Callers will headline the show, playing at 12:00 a.m. after Jorge Arana Trio, Eyelit, and Tiny Horse. Tickets are available here. The band will also be performing at the MidCoast Takeover show at SXSW on Saturday, March 16 at Shangri-La in Austin, Texas.
Photos by Randy Pace. Please do not use without permission.
--Michelle Bacon


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