Beloved Texas swing group Asleep at the Wheel have been carrying the torch for the late Bob Wills’ legacy almost as long as Wills did. Their latest release, Still the King, features 22 Wills tracks, with guest vocals by Americana favorites such as Old Crow Medicine Show and the Avett Brothers, as well as country superstars George Strait, Brad Paisley and more.
King was recorded almost entirely live, with AATW often traveling to Nashville and beyond to track with specific artists. “Merle Haggard did his vocal at his studio. Brad Paisley did his vocal and guitar in his studio,” says the album’s co-producer Sam Seifert. “But the majority was cut together in a room.”
The lion’s share of the recording was done in the band’s Bismeaux Studio (Austin), where Seifert recorded several sessions to Nuendo. “We have one live room,” he says. “We’d set up drums, electric guitar, steel guitar in that room usually. The piano room is built within that room, but it’s isolated. We’d isolate upright bass, fiddles, and the vocalist in iso rooms. But not one setup on this album was the same.
Seifert says that one of the more challenging instruments he captures on a daily basis is upright bass. “It’s my nemesis,” he laughs. “I typically put up a few mics and then choose one or blend two. For this record, it was mostly an RCA 44, the RCA Varacoustic, and an Altec 639—the birdcage mic. The bass player [Morgan Jahnig] from Old Crow Medicine Show suggested the Altec. He had his own, pointing directly at the bridge, three to four feet away. The others were on the high side, only five or six inches away, right between the F hole and the bridge.”