Hey folks! My name’s Matthew Tomich and I’m the new intern here at Hidden Shoal Recordings. I’ll be doing interviews, updates and whatever else I can to keep things interesting. First up, I spoke with Andrew Hiller, frontman for Wizards of Time, about the band’s excellent new record Will The Soft Curse Plague On?.
How did Will The Soft Curse Plague On? come about?
All of the writing was documented originally on a four track tape machine capturing the structure, guitars and vocals. Then I would recreate the songs using a music program to expound on beats, and instrument possibilities. Proofs of the mix tape tracks and the digital song versions would be studied by the rest of Wizards. We would rehearse, and pull apart each song learning our roles and improvising on top of the structure.
It was a massive growing point for all of us at that time. Jon Blair (percussion) was a guitarist in previous groups he had played in, but he learned to play drums for this project in and out of rehearsals. Jon and I would sit with each other in my apartment and work on learning the beats on kit. Wizards ended up recording a final pre-production as a full band with a friend named Jacob Raymo. This third version was used for furthering our understanding in what needed to be worked on as a band.
What was the process of making the record?
Having admired the work of Scott Solter. I thought it would be best to have him as a lead role in production of the album. We tracked all of the music in three weeks at his old studio on Baucom road in Monroe North Carolina. During that time we started understanding with the guidance of Scott what needed to be committed to tape. Wendy Allen of Boxharp appears vocally on Chief of Sinners adding as a beautiful lift at the end of the track.
One of the many processes in tracking was Scott tuning the drums to the resolve of each song. We also built different drum kits, and percussion stations for tracking. We had almost limitless sound options available at Baucom. Mike Porter and I flew back and forth over time to finish vocals, as well as be a part of the mastering process. Mixing was done using email, and on the phone with Scott. Going into the process it was understood on both sides that Scott had artistic freedom to alter the sound and design on the all of the tracks.
Mixing was done using email and having conversations on the phone with Scott about vision, and options. Going into the mixing process it was understood on both sides that Scott would have artistic freedom to altar, and design the sonic layout. Mike Porter, and I recorded the Plagues on a four track at the Dressing Room in Phoenix. We used a Casio key board, Drums, different delays, and guitar.
You’ve included six interludes which you’ve called ‘Plagues’ – why did you feel the need to separate songs with those interludes, and why call them Plagues?
The Plagues are small breaks from story line (unstable montages). It is the warning, growth, and ease towards an inevitable outcome which would be “The End”.
Given that level of complication in the mix, what have been the challenges in translating those sounds into a live context?
Wizards in the present has come down to me performing the songs solo using percussive loops that I create with my guitar. Once in awhile I will perform with the full band when we are able to, which can range from a 3 to 4 piece. To touch on the most obvious challenge would be the arranged and layered percussion. Lots of groups, including Wizards, play auxiliary percussion live, but it ultimately it doesn’t sound quite the same.
This definitely isn’t a minimalist record – every second is crammed full of textures, subtle motifs and intricate layers. What was it like trying to negotiate all these elements in the writing, recording and mixing processes?
It was eye opening, as well as a huge learning curve. Finding an understanding in sound with Scott Solter was needed for this project since I’ve personally looked up to his work for many years now. Communication and dialogue are key to execute any vision, whether that be from lyric to landscape. I personally love listening to music that reveals something that I have not heard from previous listens. It is like looking at a painting full of characters with color, and finding situations that not only stand out but make you seek.
Check out a few choice cuts from Will The Soft Curse Plague On? below and head to the Hidden Shoal Store to stream the album in full and purchase it in digital and CD formats. Andrew is currently preparing for a run of shows in Mexico in December and France early next year.
Wizards of Time – ‘Benjamin’
Wizards of Time – ‘Little’s Jingle’
Wizards of Time – ‘Hi My Name Is Body’