Gunther Prague’s second full length album has now been released as CLR18. Recorded in three days with Steve Albini at his studio Electrical Audio in Chicago, “Capital Rats” is now available on bandcamp and on all the usual streaming services.
We asked the band to tell us a bit about making a record with one of the world’s most respected engineers.
It took us about a year to get dates agreed with Steve’s studio manager, and in fact the whole thing got put back by about six weeks for the 2017 Shellac European tour, and to be honest we were grateful for the extra preparation time. Electrical is a very impressive place to make a record behind an unassuming door in a very normal area about five miles from downtown Chicago. Steve arrives on his bike every morning and he’ll work just about as long into the evening as you want him to, although he does have strong ideas about the point at which people’s ears and concentration have done as much as they can do in a day. He’s very, very funny and easy to work with and particularly enjoys making grandiose announcements to his staff over the intercom system.
As you may expect if you’ve read anything about the way that he works, most of the first day was taken up with mic placements in the two live rooms we used - Kentucky for drums and Centre Field for the rest of the band. Albini fans will also be pleased to hear that while we where auditioning guitar sounds he got very excited at one point and said to (our) Steve “I’ve got something I want you to try!” before handing him an aluminium body guitar. It didn’t make it onto the record but it was great to be given one of the famous metal guitars to try out by the man himself. The range of drum shells, amps and guitar pedals we were given to choose from was barely believable, and Steve spend at least an hour with each of us asking about how our setups at home worked and what we wanted from the sound of record. He particularly approved of Brendan’s “no toms” drum setup.
Recording onto tape requires a lot more discipline than digital recording, but with Steve you are in the hands of someone who knows what can and can’t be done on tape. The speed with which we can make edits even on the 2 inch master tape is incredible, and he has an ear for things that most would miss. Making a record in three days is a lot of work, but he actually got really excited about that aspect of it “It’s like working on a session in the 80s!” he said at the point that we realised we needed to record twelve vocals and mix the entire record on day three. By the end of that day we were ruined, but Steve is made of sterner stuff and really seemed to relish the need to get the record finished in a very limited time. “Too many bands record stuff and then fuck around with in on their laptops for two years afterwards” he told us.