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June 12, 2008 | Author: James O’Toole

Trial Kennedy_220208

Trial Kennedy recorded their debut album New Manic Art in the US after signing to Sony/ BMG. Australian Musician’s James O’Toole spoke to guitarist Stacey Gray about recording the album in Atlanta with Nick Didia.

O’Toole: So now you’ve made the jump to a major label how was the difference in recording compared to previous EPs?
Gray: On previous EPs we did like five songs in six days, we were in there from 10am until 4 am and it was just ridiculously hectic. This album was recorded in Atlanta, we spent five weeks doing fourteen songs. We worked six or seven days a week, but there was time to pull the songs apart and try different things and different sounds. It felt a lot easier. Nick Didia was a good guy so it made the experience really pleasurable. Time was the biggest factor, not being stressed and tired and leaving your ears fresh the next day.

O’Toole: Yeah, I think anyone who has recorded in an independent band is used to doing long hours and coming back in after four hours sleep (laughs).
Gray: Yeah, your ears and your brain can’t function when you’re doing that.

O’Toole: Why did you choose to work with Nick Didia at Southern Tracks, and what was it like?
Gray: I was working for a music magazine and we were interviewing producers and I was in contact with a producer manager over there.
I interviewed a few people through him, like David Bianco and Sylvia Massy. I got onto Nick and asked him a few questions and it was a bit of an insight on how he produces. He answered questions on how he treats vocalists, how he likes to get a vibe, what sort of gear he uses and the processes he goes through. I showed it to the boys and they said let’s send him our ideas. He was definitely our long shot, but he got back to us and said ‘I love it, I really dig it.’ Having 150 different guitars, 50s SGs, Triple Os was pretty crazy, all these different mics for Timmy, and also for Shawn there was an old Ludwig kit and Gretsch kit, these Cooley toms and sixties hand cut cymbals, it was just out of control. It was like going into a shop with shit loads of everything and taking your pick (laughs). Nick’s done some great records (including Powderfinger) and knows how to pull some great sounds and get the best out of people.

O’Toole: As far as digital recording and technology goes, are the guys in the band savvy with that sort of stuff? How did you demo the album?
Gray: Yeah, we use a digital Tascam 8 track and we record all our rehearsals while we just jam things out. If we hear something along the way we can track mark it so we can go back to that location. We did demos for this record with Reggie Bowman, a good friend of ours, he has a studio out in Warrandyte. It was just good to have a fresh set of ears on that as well. I think if you do too much internally you become too precious. You need someone who knows your stuff, who you respect and they respect you, and you know how to work with each other. We like bringing in other people but we always have a clear message with what we write.

O’Toole: A lot of your stuff comes from jamming, but does anyone in the band ever bring in more finished ideas?
Gray: Yeah, Timmy our vocalist is also a good guitar player, so there are some ideas where he and I will bring them up to a certain stage because it’s easier to bounce around two peoples’ ideas than four. Every rehearsal we jam a riff or groove and then Timmy will come in and start singing. We’re pretty close and we’ve grown up together, so we know how everyone works and the band dynamic, so we’re pretty tight. I spend more time with these guys than I do with my girlfriend or my family (laughs).

O’Toole: Can you tell us about your personal guitar set up?
Gray: Live I’m running a Framus three channel head, it’s like an 800 on heat, it’s just got so much balls, but I want to try something else so I can do a little bit of switching, and clean up some sounds. I’m also about to start running a 65 head, it’s like a half 18w Marshall and half Vox, it’s a good little amp. I have four guitars at the moment, with alternate tunings. I have two Mastersounds, a Telecaster and a Cole Clark. I want to get a Hagstrom guitar and a Kramer Renegade guitar hopefully very soon.

New Manic Art is out May 31st, 2008 through Sony/BMG. To view footage of the band in the studio at Southern Tracks go to

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