Following the release of the new album “Wrong Creatures” by the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the band decided to treat its fans to a cassette-only EP. “In addition to the 12 songs on the album, we had four more songs,” explained producer Nick Launay.
Launay is one of today’s most preferred record producers due to his success with recent albums by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He is among the most successful producers of the post-punk era, helming records from pivotal acts including Public Image Ltd, Talking Heads, Kate Bush, Gang of Four, Killing Joke, and The Birthday Party.
“Ever since I really discovered Bernie for myself five years ago,” says Launay, “I’ve done everything with him. There is just a good communication about the reason for music, which isn’t just frequencies and all that, it’s a mood thing. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is absolutely a rock and roll band – the music speeds up, it slows down, there’s bits out of tune, and that’s what makes it real. It’s very organic. Bernie also Mastered another wild album for me recently by Anna Calvi, that comes out later this year.”
Hailing from San Francisco, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club consists of Peter Hayes (vocal, guitar, harmonica), Robert Levon Been (vocal, bass, guitar), and Leah Shapiro (drums). They have released eight studio albums: “B.R.M.C.” (2001), “Take Them On, On Your Own” (2003), “Howl” (2005), “Baby 81” (2007), “The Effects of 333” (2008), “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” (2010), “Specter at the Feast” (2013) and “Wrong Creatures” (2018), as well as several EPs, and live albums.
After the “Wrong Creatures” album was initially mastered, Launay recalls, “It needed to sound not too professional and glossy, so we made it really loud and gritty. It worked on one level, but it was actually hard to listen to. It sounded almost like a grunge record, and that’s not really what they’re about.”
And so Launay and band returned. “We came in again, “Launay continues. “This is the great thing about Bernie — he really understood how I was explaining it. We used a completely different setting on the A to D converter, which was more like something that you would use on a jazz record or a classical record that doesn’t need to be loud, and it opened it all up, and it’s more beautiful. We just pushed the level as much as possible and it was like night and day. A lot of records these days are all about being very loud, or appearing to be very loud, and BRMC music is much more dynamic. It’s like a rollercoaster, and it needs to have the quiet bits. Anyway, we did it again, and it sounded great.”
BMRC’s new cassette EP is entitled “The Black Tape EP, and features black analog tape instead of the familiar brown. “The band’s fan base is young and probably never had a cassette machine, so they’ll be ringing their parents up and saying, ‘Did you throw away the cassette machine, because I want to listen to this thing,’ or they’re going to go to second hand shops and thrift stores to find them.”
Audiophiles may say that the sound quality of a cassette is not optimum. “But I don’t think it matters in this case, because it is the novelty of releasing it in this way,” concludes Launay. “I have to say, it’s really such a thrill to have a cassette, and put it in the cassette machine, and push play. It sounds exactly like you’d expect. There’s this hiss and it all sounds a bit spongy. The clarity is gone, but it’s fun.”
ABOUT BERNIE GRUNDMAN MASTERING
The name Bernie Grundman is synonymous with Mastering. His world-renowned facilities, responsible for a consistently large percentage of chart recordings, were launched in 1984. In 1997, Grundman opened his Tokyo mastering studios and in 1998 relocated to expanded facilities in Hollywood. Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood operates six studios, including a 5.1 mastering room. All processing devices can be completely bypassed, resulting in sonic quality that is unsurpassed in the mastering industry. Virtually all digital and analog formats are accepted for mastering, with the facility providing high quality disk masters, and sub-masters for CD. Grundman’s custom consoles are built in-house with all discrete electronics.