|The Dough Rollers’ Favorite Piece of Gear:
The Deli believes that if a band can rock properly, and does it for long enough, somebody important is going to take notice at some point. For NYC’s The Dough Rollers, that somebody was Jack White, who signed them to his label Third Man Records, under which they released single “Little Lily” in 2013 and – at the end of 2014 – EP “Gone Baby Gone.” The band rocks so bad they recently toured with Bob Dylan, Billy Idol and then Queens of the Stone Age…
We had a chance to ask the guys in the band a few questions about recording and gear.
How much of your recording is done at home versus in the studio?
JB: I guess it’s been split pretty evenly though I think we used to record at home a lot more though.
MF: Yea when it was just the two of us it was really easy to just set up a mic or two and record.
What are the pieces of equipment that you find particularly inspiring when recording at home?
JB: Probably Malcolm’s Tascam 388. It was a really nice machine.
MF: Yea I miss that thing. It was awesome. Quarter inch 8 track. It was really fun to fuck around with. We’re gonna get another one soon.
If you use a studio, what do you record there and what do you record by yourself and why?
JB: I guess it just depends on the timing. Obviously if we could we always be in a studio recording straight to tape with real engineers and shit. Like Malcolm said before though it was really easy for us to record acoustic at home when we played as duo and a lot of the time we’d find ourselves really happy with the sounds we were able to come up with at home.
KO: Yea that’s true. I don’t think we start out before recording a song saying “this has to be recorded here or there,” it just kind of depends on when we get the opportunity and when we have the right material to record.
What one piece of hardware/software would you most like to add to your recording setup (cost not an issue)? Why?
JB: The REDD Consoles from EMI? That’s what all the Beatles stuff at Abbey Road was recorded on. I want one because Lenny Kravitz has one….
MF: Or a Fairchild 660 or 670 Compressor / Limiter. Same with the REDD consoles, these are the sounds that people have been trying to recreate over and over again for years. I guess the dream would be to have that original sound and because Lenny Kravitz has one.
Josh: I’ve been thinking about some Moogs lately too…
Do you expect your next record to be self-produced, or would you like to work with a producer? If it’s the latter, who would you most like to produce your band, and why?
JB: I mean I guess the dream is to be in a real studio and have the know how and the opportunity to produce it yourself. But it’s also really nice to work with a good producer who can bring their own influences and ideas to the table. Ideally I think a producer should be able to transplant his ideas into you and make you think that his ideas are your own.
KO: Hopefully next time we’ll be in the studio with a producer. I’m not sure who though. It was really great getting to work with Jack White and everybody at Third Man Records.
MF: Yea I mean it’s fun to do stuff at home and all but I think we all agree that we’re hoping next time is with a good producer. Not sure who though.
Do you use rack effects or guitar pedals to forge your own sound? If you do, please list the ones you use the most and let us know why you love them.JB: I use anything that I think sounds good or could sound right in a certain context. Whether that’s just the sound of good pickups going straight into a good amp or a wall of pedals or whatever it might be, I guess that just depends. I don’t discriminate though. There are definitely things that are mainstays of my setup but if I told you exactly what they were, well needless to say I’d probably have to kill you. Just kidding – kind of. Boxes I’ve loved over the years have been the Sola Sound Tone Bender (pictured), the Dallas Rangemaster. I have a great Leslie simulator but I actually can’t remember what it’s called. Dave Fox at FoxRox Electronics has been making some really great shit for years. Actually almost everything he makes is great. When I was in 7th grade one of my first pedals ever, actually I think it was my first, was a FoxRox Captain Coconut II. I lost my mind for that thing. It had the Octave, Univibe and Fuzz all in one massive pedal. To me back then, when I played it, it sounded exactly like Jimi Hendrix. I think I still have it sitting around somewhere. Prescription Electronicsalso makes some really stuff. Josh: I’ve been really getting into using my Big Muff lately.
Do you have a particular recording style that you aim for? What techniques do you employ to recreate it?
JB: I think we all like things to be as live as possible while still having opportunity if we want it to really explore creative avenues with the recording process. We usually spend a lot of time with things before we record them so that we can record as much of track live as we want to.
MF: In my mind I guess it’s kind of like, keep things as recognizable as possible while also not having it sound completely recycled.
KO: Yea in that respect I feel like we’re really open to any style of recording. Because what’s the point of just trying to do one particular thing over and over again? That sounds boring…Who determines the direction and style of your recordings?
JB: We all do. We don’t go into anything saying we want it to sound like something else or that we want it to really be in a specific style. Quality is the main priority though. Things are just kind of determined by how we’re all feeling at the time.
MF: For sure. Its our style you know what i mean? Shit happens naturally through us playing not by sitting around and talking about what direction or style we want to take certain tunes into. Our friend Elvis Perkins has definitely been a big influence as far as recording goes.
JB: Yep. And as far as live – I mean getting to tour with Bob Dylan and then Queens of the Stone Age. Those were pretty pivotal moments. Especially being on tour with a band like Queens, who are so incredible live. I think that really gave us the wake up call we needed. Oh and our friend Dikayl Rimmasch has recently been really important for us in developing our live and recorded sound.
Josh: Even just our short time at Third Man was very influential for recorded sounds as well.
What other artists would you say have had the biggest influence in your approach to recording? Why?
JB: Shit I don’t know. Can I say just anybody who’s ever recorded a good sounding song? We all love Phil Spector, a lot of the things that were coming out of Stax and Muscle Shoals in the 60’s and early 70’s. I love the production on the early Funkadelic albums. Glyn and Andy Johns have also done some really incredible stuff for recording in general.
MF: Yea I mean what can you say? The Beatles? I really like a lot of Joe Meek’s stuff as well. I’m also a huge fan of Jimmy Page’s production on a lot of the Zeppelin stuff.
KO: The early Impressions albums that were worked on by Johnny Pate, Donny Hathaway and co. are pretty amazing. The sound is just there you know? Also the Al Green stuff that came out on Hi Records in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Would you say that your live show informs your recording process or that your recording process informs your live show? Both? Neither?
JB: I don’t know. It works both ways for sure. There are times when we know we’re going into the studio and a song isn’t quite there yet so we spend an enormous amount of time workshopping it until we’re satisfied – so in a way I guess the recording process does inform the live show but I think for the most part things are developed by testing them out live. Usually if something doesn’t work we’ll either break it down for parts or scrap it altogether.
Is there a piece of equipment that you find particularly useful on stage?
JB: Gibson guitars? My amp?
MF: Fender guitars?
KO: My hat?
With bands doing more of everything themselves these days (recording, performing, self-promoting, etc.) and the evermore multimedia nature of the world, how much effort do you put into the visual component of your band – fashion, styling, photography, graphic/web design, etc.? Do you do these things yourself or is there someone that the band works with?
JB: Its an interesting time you know? I mean back in the old days there were people who worked at labels whose jobs were to do stuff like that for bands. Now so much of it is up to the band. Certain things just can’t be ignored if you’re trying to build an image or a brand or whatever. So we do think about it to an extent and we also have people who help us with the shit we’re not good at.
MF: I think you have to strike a nice balance between not thinking about it too much and obsessing over things. It’s not like we’re gonna come out in crazy outfits or anything, we just wear what’s comfortable but a certain amount of thought does have to be put into how you want to present yourself while still having it be natural.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of the recording process? On the flipside, what aspects are the most rewarding?
JB: Sometimes you just have to deal with trading something you think is losing performance value for something that’s exactly right. So that’s kind of a drag but it’s just part the process. For me the most rewarding aspect is really the whole process leading up to the actual recording of a song. Breaking it down, workshopping etc….
MF: I’d say the most rewarding aspect is when there’s not a ten foot gap in between the stage and the audience at a show. Then you know you’re doing something right with the recording.
Josh: It’s all downhill after the first take right?