Home-studio recording has come a long way since bands like Sebadoh and Guided by Voices started inspiring lo-fi indie rockers in the ’90s. These days it’s possible to make a recording that captures the fidelity of a recording studio without sacrificing the raw immediacy of a DIY set-up.
Jesse Baldoni, guitarist/vocalist of Pittsburgh’s The Me Toos, has recorded almost all of that trio’s releases in his Attic Recording Studio (a literal description even without the capitalization). “I don’t think I would do it any other way,” he says. “I have it set up where I can figure out guitar parts on my own and spend as much time as I need to. I’ve gotten a lot better at figuring out when [a song] is done, which can be the biggest pitfall of doing stuff from home. You can also run into the problem of just never being done.”
Last April, The Me Toos — which includes bassist Ben Vivio and drummer Kevin Koch — released its solid mod-pop album Ghost Fly By, its fourth release and second full-length. Once that was completed, the band members decided it was time to release some vinyl. Pressing it themselves seemed a bit cost-prohibitive, but a split release seemed like a good idea. The Spectres, who played numerous shows with The Me Toos, including the CD release, were the ideal candidates in spirit and music. “There’s just two of them. Dan [Spagnolo] plays guitar. James [Thompson] plays a kick drum and snare with his feet, and plays guitar,” Baldoni says. “And they trade off lead vocals.”
The duo became the first band other than The Me Toos to record in Baldoni’s studio, and things clicked immediately. “They were pretty adamant about recording everything live and only overdubbing the vocals,” he says. “When they got here, we tinkered around with things here and there. They ran through each song three times, picked the one that they like the most and overdubbed the vocals that same day. We were done tracking their three songs in two or three hours. It was incredible.”
Two of those songs, “Goodbye” and “No No No,” appear on the single. While the music is stripped down, the Spectres still get a full sound with just two guitars and a couple drums, creating two catchy tracks in the process. The Me Toos’ contribution — “Everyone and His Goodtime Friends” — is built on a tense riff that gets a boost from dynamic shifts and some snarling guitar parts.
In addition to the music, Baldoni is happy with the record’s sleeve, designed by artist Jesse Flati. “It sort of plays off the idea of ‘The Me Toos versus the Spectres.’ So it’s a little comic book-ish,” he says.
The evening’s record-release show will be the last Me Toos show for a few months. Koch, who has a birthday the same night, is becoming a father in a month. But don’t expect the band to be away too long. “We have close to another full-length record’s worth of material written,” Baldoni says.__