Gearheads: Indoor Cities

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Andrew Farwell, of emblematic math-rock pythons Indoor Cities, gives us a charming walkthrough of the band’s modest but ambitious set-up in the first of our new Gearheads feature.

“Much of the credit of our sound on this album is due to our very talented engineer and co-producer, Mario Quintero. He has worked with many bands, including Sleeping People and his own project, Sleep Lady. I knew Mario through mutual friends and loved his previous work, so I knew he would be the right person to help us launch our debut album. His mixes really tied our songs together without forfeiting the rawness that can sometimes gets lost in production. He especially shined on the interludes, harnessing the atmosphere without becoming too far removed from the rest of the album.”

“We’re nerdy about gear, but like a lot of other musicians we lack the financial backing to totally indulge ourselves in it.”

Craig, for instance, hashes out his beats on a rusted 13 year old Pearl Export kit. The drums for our original demos were recorded in a tinny sounding garage, but you’d never guess that thanks to his audio engineering skills (Craig spent some time assisting at Studio West in San Diego). Drum tracking for Holy Land, Wayward Seastook place at Phaser Control with Craig behind a DW kit and Bill Driskill controlling the faders. Craig also made unique use of some midi drums, sparingly utilizing Superior Drummer for a layering effect. We kept the drums pretty functional and traditional, apart from some beat layering and the occasional hard-panned intertwining rhythms.”

“The bass was also kept dry with nothing too wacky going on gear wise. Josh uses a beautiful 1967 Telecaster with a custom neck that he got for a disturbingly low price at a music shop a few years ago. We DI-ed the bass, and Mario did what he does best to make those lines really heavy. Although Josh keeps it simple, yet attention grabbing on the record, he’s got an arsenal of gear at home that we hope he’ll be using on the next album.”

Image credit: Brian Seth -- @surrealuniverse
Image credit: Brian Seth

“Guitars were by far the most gear heavy on the album. To record the guitars, we used an Orange Tiny Terror and a 2×12 homemade cab I picked up a while back that has Celestion Greenbacks in it. We alternated between my Japanese Semihollow Fender Thinline with flat wound strings for some of the pickier parts and one of Mario’s Telecasters with thinner nickel wound strings to get some brighter tone chords in there.”

“I used two really versatile pedals for some of the stranger sounds: The Boss PS-3 Pitch Shift/Digital Delay and the Boss DD-20 Giga Delay. I also used theLine 6 DL-4 during a lot for the writing process, and a couple of the interludes feature loops done on this that I recorded at home. For a little extra distortion, I use the Tech 21 Sansamp GT-2.”

“We’re starting to use a laptop in our live shows, and I think that it’s possibly the best asset we’ve added to our gear arsenal as a means to achieving our sound.”

“The Boss PS-3 is one of my favorite pedals. It’s got a nice wet/dry mix knob that you can use to dial in some weird sounds. Between the latency of the output, the dry/wet knob, and the feedback knob, you can really find ways to give the output an ADSR, like it’s a synth. The DD-20 has a fun feature that let’s you exactly clock your delays to a specific BPM. I like layering things up and then warping the sounds by increasing or decreasing the BPM, which you can hear in the intro to “Pathogens In Bloom“. The pedal tries to compensate for the changes to the BPM and creates these stutters and flexes that sound awesome. I also love the DD-20’s endless feedback setting (called “warp” on the pedal), which creates a sound you’d expect from a freeze pedal. This is used with the PS-3 at the end of “Agent Orange” to get the high pitched drone that goes in the background. I also made use of some Spectral processing and granular synthesis plugins in Logic to create one of the interludes, “Better Things For Better Living…”.”

“I try to find gear that compliments my interest in music, so I obsessively use delay and loop pedals (more recently I’m falling in love with Ableton as a means to achieve this). I’m obsessed with repetitions, phasing, and gradual changes, like Reich and Basinski do, so I try to find gear that enables this process. As a whole, Indoor Cities tries to, I think, find a way to fuse reflective melody with perplexing rhythms. I think this album is a good introduction to that and our gear is enabling us to accomplish that. We’re a restless bunch, though, so hopefully our next album can take us further down this path. We’re starting to use a laptop in our live shows, and I think that it’s possibly the best asset we’ve added to our gear arsenal as a means to achieving our sound.”

Ashley Collins
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Ashley Collins

Ashley is a Noted co-founder, scribbling his thesaurused thoughts on music and all its accessories from his South England sty.
Ashley Collins
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