The Austin rockers recorded the fresh set of 12 foot-stomping, hair-swinging tracks in Seattle at Robert Lang Studios with Grammy-winning producer Adam Kasper (Queens of the Stone Age, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Cat Power).
The trio’s trademark hard-hitting beats and expert guitar work are fully on display with Monuments, and Fender.com recently caught up with frontwoman Lauren Larson about the direction she, bassist Eric Larson and drummer Rachel Furher are going in.
Fender.com: It seems that some of these songs are pretty heavy, even for Ume. Was that something you thought about heading into the recording process?
Larson: I think this band’s always been about trying to reimagine heavy music. With this record, we wanted to make a heavy rock record but not shy away from emotion. While “Black Stone” is one of the heavier tracks, there are some curve balls, too. There are some more melodic songs, but it’s still a guitar-driven rock record.
Fender.com: How did you hook up with Adam Kasper?
Larson: He had a copy of our previous record and even came out to see us when we played Seattle at this place called Numa’s. We met him there and went by his studio when he was working with Soundgarden. We got to see all their gear, which was great. Anyway, Queens of the Stone Age’s Songs for the Deaf is one of our favorite records, and he’s worked with Cat Power, Nirvana, Foo Fighters. He’s a guy who is about the sounds and the songs. There is hardly any post-production or fancy studio trickery on this. He was awesome.
Fender.com: How would you describe how the heavy guitars on the record coexist with the lighter style of your voice?
Larson: Well, I do have to work with the voice I’ve been given. Sometimes I wish I sounded like Lemmy [Kilmister], but I’m a girl in a 5-foot-2 body. There is a conflict there with a softer vocal over the heavy music, but it’s something that makes our band a little bit different. It’s honest and what we sound like.
Fender.com: How has the 2011 addition of Rachel Furher changed the band?
Larson: Eric and I have been making music since high school. It was funny, the first thing Rachel ever really did with us was a shoot for Rolling Stone magazine before we had even played a show with her. So, things took off fast. Rachel came from Berklee [College of Music], she learned our old songs really fast, and then we all started writing new stuff. I think she really helped us craft a heavier sound that we wanted to go with.
Fender.com: How long did the process for Monuments take you guys?
Larson: It was a pretty quick thing. We didn’t have a lot of time with this record. Initially, we had to fund it ourselves with the help of fans. The whole record was done over a two-week span. We didn’t have the luxury of a ton of studio time, we had to go in and knock it out. We ended writing some songs in the studio, though. There is a basement there, and I would be there until four or five in the morning, working on things.
Fender.com: What are the challenges/benefits of recording an album that quickly?
Larson: Of course, we’re not going to make [Pink Floyd] Dark Side of the Moon or [Fleetwood Mac] Rumours, but one good thing about not having unlimited studio time is that I learned how to say, “This is it.” I can be obsessive and self-conscious, especially when it comes to vocals. “I don’t have it, I don’t have it. Let me do 40 more takes.” Adam was good about saying, “No, you’ve got it. It’s done.” You step away from it for a day and then come back to listen to it, and you realize that you did actually get it. The record is about capturing what we sounded like at that moment, and I think it makes it more honest and raw than some of the stuff that’s out there.
Fender.com: What kind of gear were you using for the album, and what do you use live?
Larson: I’ve been playing a ’72 Telecaster Deluxe, usually in drop D or standard, and a Duo-Sonic II that I have in a strange tuning. Previously, I was playing an American Strat and a Mustang that was also in a different tuning. But, I did just get my first Jazzmaster for my birthday. I like the humbuckers, and I’ve been looking for one for a while. So, I got the Lee Ranaldo American Jazzmaster, and I’m loving it. It’s beautiful.
Stream Monuments below, and click here to pre-order the album.
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