Indie rockers Houndmouth have been preaching to the choir: They’ve recently toured with Drive-by Truckers, Alabama Shakes, and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, playing their soulful, roots-influenced originals for friendly crowds. Their SXSW appearance was featured on NBC-TV Rock Center program. And now, buzz is building around their debut album, From the Hills Below the City (out June 4 on Rough Trade), which was tracked near their southern Indiana home, in a parsonage in Louisville, Kentucky.
“It’s a turn-of-the-century three-story home that priests used to live in,” says the band’s engineer, Kevin Ratterman. “I had a 1971 API console and a Studer 827 set up in the living room downstairs. The band was on the second floor with everyone crammed into a 14x16 bedroom around the drums.” Amps were placed in other bedrooms, or the kitchen, and each bandmember had his/her own headphones and personal mixer. Guide vocals went down with the band tracks, but final vocals and solos were overdubbed.
“The API did most of the work,” says Ratterman. “That thing just sounds gorgeous—the widest, most beautiful midrange and tight, thick low end. I was hitting tape quite hard as well with the drums and bass.
“I think the thing I was digging most on this project was running the console pre’s really hot and pulling the faders back to not overload the next signal in the chain, and hitting the tape fairly hard with the kick, snare, overheads and bass to just make them glue as much as possible without making them seem overly ‘gained out’—still open and musical.”