Recently Louder Than War were offered an exclusive on an interview with Manchester based producer extraordinaire David Tolan (photo, right, by Dylan Chubb) of Primal Scream, New Order & Delphic fame about his new project, Suzuki Method, who are about to release their debut EP on 20th October. We, of course, jumped at the opportunity. Also offered was an exclusive on a new track by the band which you can find below.
Suzuki Method first came to our attention when we heard the track Country Cousins by them, released earlier in the year, which you can hear over here. They’ve been tipped by none other than Clint Boon as “the best live band in Manchester” as well as by Louder Than War’s own Shell Zenner who said of them “Suzuki Method are Salfords finest sons (and) are about to spread their wings and music beyond Greater Manchester” and numerous other music industry insiders as a band to watch out for. The band came together during during the Salford riots & their music is full of melody, hooks & big, punchy, anthemic rhythms, which you’ll be able to judge for yourselves because, adding to the excitement of our having this interview with David we’ve also been given an exclusive stream of a track off the new EP – one which you can find below along with all the details about the EP & tour news. But first, lets hear what David has to say about Suzuki Method.
Louder Than War: When did you first hear about and what excited you about working with the band?
David Tolan: I first heard about Suzuki Method through a close friend, I went and checked them out at a local bar and was pretty impressed. What I really liked was the mix of elements they were playing around with…Can, Japan, some house, some early eighties Industrial mancunia, a really good mix!
Tell us what you feel are some of their key characteristics.
Their key characteristics originate from their love of house, disco, 80’s synth pop, 90’s rave anthems and more obscure elements too. In fact anything that just isn’t straightforward rock, their direction most certainly comes from those fundamentals of rhythm and dance, however they combine them with well-constructed melodies and great hooks too. Adam (the singer) has got a really distinctive voice and vocal style which is unique element also.
Tell us a little bit about the recording process.
The recording process was pretty ‘organic’ really. We started chatting after gigs around town (Manchester). One night, at ‘Band on the Wall’, we were talking about the direction the band were taking and feel of the songs and what could be achieved. They were kicking around some new ideas at the time and I thought there was some really strong hooks in there that weren’t necessarily being made the most of, so we discussed making the tracks more concise and developing the hooks further and just seeing where that took us….We just kept working away on the strengths and they kind of morphed into strong singles after that.
Once we’d got the business side of things sorted, we then got in the rehearsal room for pre-production. These we really good sessions I recall… good natured, friendly and productive. I encouraged the band to try different arrangements on the tracks and they were really open mind about it. We just kicked ideas around and went with what worked the best. We tended to always record sessions so we always had a reference, something to always consider and go back to. That’s something I learnt from my days of working with Johnny Marr… always keep recording ideas and that way you never miss these magic moments! Serendipity is really useful I find. Sometimes someone goes to the wrong chords or to another section two bars too early and something unique happens. Some of the tracks on the Native EP have those changes in, it’s great. I like that kind of feeling when producing, it’s like driving a long distance at night… You know you’re going to get there but you can’t see any further than your headlights on the road. It keeps life interesting.
Once we’d completed pre production I got the band to perform the tracks on stage, just at a little club in Salford, when it was closed! It was a really good move as it helped me be able to stand back and assess the tracks objectively before going to the studio. It was fun too. I remember a friend of the band having every light, laser and moonbeam going full tilt as the band were on! I could hardly even see the band at the time but I could certainly hear them, remembering that always makes me smile to this day.
We then moved things on to the recording stage. We had weighed up the pros and cons of a few studios in the area and decided to ‘track’ the drums at the ‘Edge’ in Cheshire, do the overdubs at the Big Mushroom (The Charlatans studio) and then I would complete all the editing, compiling, mixing and mastering at my own studio in Manchester.
I decided to track all the band together as they were used to gigging at the time and I find that it’s the best way to get good vibey bed tracks down. I’ve never been a great fan of laying the drums down first, then the bass, guitars etc… I like to get the whole band down asap, patch anything up and then start overdubbing and moulding the tracks in the process. We spend around four days tracking at the Edge, a weekend at Big Mushroom recording loud guitars, around four days or so doing vocals at a friend’s studio in Stoke and then the rest of the time was spent working on keys / programming / editing at my home studio. The vocal sessions were really fun and productive. Me and Adam just locked ourselves away in this great little studio outside Stoke that belongs to my friend Thom from Bison & Wolf. We had a great time working on lyrics, getting vibey takes down, sometimes with the monitors turned up pretty loud! We got some great results and had some real laughs too. Myself and Ads also have a great skill at coming up with really bizarre, twisted, comical lyrics for the tracks and we did record them for posterity. Maybe I’ll do an alternative mix one day! I recall there was some great dance moves in the studio too! I think that may have been the vodka!
After all the recording was complete I got set up at mine and got down to honing the keyboards with Glenn, mixing and matching old and new sounds, analogue and digital…After that I started working on integrating interesting sequences and layering drum machines on the tracks. It’s time consuming but it does get some great results. I then moved all the tracks into a mix shape ‘in the box’ to get an idea of what I really had.
Once that was done I was good to go! I got all the mixes on an analogue desk, with plenty of outboard gear and valves too. I really prefer analogue equipment for the speed of use and the depth and warmth of the sonic quality. Mixes purely ‘in the box’ can be good but they are different, not bad just different. They always sound a little transparent to me, which can work well with some tracks. I have done some records like that and have liked the result, however my first choice is always an analogue desk + outboard effects. Always makes me happy :)
Give us a snap shot of what we can expect from the EP.
Well, you’ll get some well crafted, inventive and imaginative songs. Imagine early mancunian industria fused with house anthems from ’96 fused with a little Simple Minds circa 1981 for good measure! Oh and a wee hint of prince too!
Finally, what are your hopes for the new EP?
My hopes are simple. That Suzuki Method’s music gets the attention it truly deserves. I would like it to reach a wider audience and for the whole thing to grow naturally. There are a good few tracks on there which are more than worthy of major play so I hope again in the future it gets some substantial plays on cool tastemaker shows as well as more mainstream radio. Oh and maybe some heavy rotation here and there wouldn’t go a miss!
And here is the promised exclusive track, Sherbert,by the band:
The band also have some live dates lined up as follows:
- 29th August Native in the streets @ Manchester town hall Manchester Town Hall Manchester
- 5th September Native in the streets @ 258 Deansgate, 258 Deansgate Manchester
- 26th September Native in the streets @ Urbis, Urbis Manchester
- 27th September Salford Festival Live St Phillips Church Salford
- 6th October Native in the streets LIVE @TBA (secret show) TBA Manchester
- 12th October Sherbet Video World Premier, DJ set & Live special Guests Black Lion Theatre Salford
- 19th October Native EP launch Party & special guest Sound Control Manchester
- 15th November Sherbet Remix Party & Live Set Kings Arms Salford