Burgess Meredith is a newer band in Austin even though they have been rehearsing together for over two years. But guitarist/vocalist Josh King said they are realistically a year old. While they are a somewhat young band, the collective of musicians that form Burgess Meredith are from other bands that may sound familiar (The Dalles, The Lemurs, Shearwater). Several of the members sat down with UWeekly to discuss their upcoming debut release and what it was like to record it.
How did you find each other?
John Vishnesky: I met Josh through a Craigslist ad.
Deidre Gott: They play in The Lemurs together now. Then Jesse (Hester), our piano player, he and Josh used to play in Dallas together, right?
Josh King: Yeah. It’s been a co-writing situation in terms of every body’s collaborating, but Jesse and I have been bringing the initial ideas for it so far. We knew each other in Dallas about ten years. He actually played the first show I ever played. Jesse opened for us and then we crossed paths for a while. We met up again here in Austin, and then decided to start gigging. It’s funny because Jesse wasn’t brought in until after everyone was together. Then I was like, we really need this element in the band. So we called him up, and it became really cohesive really rapidly. That’s when the shift happened, because the very first shows we were playing were initially based off just songs that I’ve been sitting on for a really long time. Then the band became more about a collaborative effort. I’d say John, Jesse, Deidre and myself are probably the four core members. We also have Blue (Mongeon) playing bass, and Danny (Reisch) is our drummer for the most part, who also plays with the Lemurs.
DG: Blue plays in East Cameron Folkcore and The Dalles. He used to play with Bankrupt and the Borrowers. He’s been around forever. Then Danny plays with The Lemurs, and he played with Belaire for a little bit. Now he’s on tour with Shearwater. So this CD release, we actually have a different drummer playing with us. It’s Billy Potts, and he plays with The Black and White Years. And that is the full circle.
What was it like recording the album? How long have you been working on it?
JK: Some of the songs have been on the shelves for a long time and then were revamped with this current iteration of musicians. A few of them were written just as the album was towards completion. We’ve been planning it for a long time, but we officially started in August and tracked drums at Public Hi-Fi with Danny. Danny, Brad Bell and Mitch Billeaud all helped us produce the drum sounds. Then we had Kyle Ponder actually play the drums on the record, who was our original drummer in the band, and he played with Leatherbag for awhile. He’s Mike and the Moonpies’ official drummer, and he’s a great player.
DG: It’s just so incestuous.
JK: We really love his playing, so once we got that down, we basically went over to Danny’s studio, (called) Good Danny’s, and began building all of the basics and getting all of the tracks laid down. It was a process of really John and I making a lot of the creative decisions, and then bringing in different elements of the band. Deidre and Jesse provide a lot of the raw talent and production elements, being able to hit really high harmonies, being able to sing some of the more difficult parts. Jesse, being able to play some more difficult musical lines, things of that nature, and John and I going in and trying to figure out what sound might be there, what instruments we may use, agonizing over what amp or guitar or keyboard, things of that nature. That seems to be the process that we went through.
JV: Luckily, we got a chance to use Danny’s studio. He’s got a nice home studio, so we could take our time with the record and work over ideas and find the right ones to fit and not have to worry about the clock ticking. Just get in and get out.
Yeah, when you pay by the hour, it’s like we only have this much time. But also on the flip side of that, when you do the home studio environment, you have to set a deadline. Did you ever have that problem?
JK: Yes, we set deadlines and broke them and broke them again. Basically we had tracking deadlines. Time in the studio where we would run through several ideas and try to figure out things, and then sometimes in the editing process when we’re reviewing what we had done, we’d be, like, “Hey, I forgot that so-and-so sang this really cool thing.” Then that would increase our time so we’d go back and try to revamp that idea. Take a certain idea to a different direction or maybe integrate this same element, but yeah, we broke several rules. We were initially going to release it in January?
DG: Yeah, We were going to do it in January, and then we were mixing in December and we’re like, that’s not enough time.
JV: Then (South by Southwest) was coming up and we didn’t want to have to fight everyone else during SXSW to get our release out.
JG: Yeah, it was a conscious decision after February to go ahead and wait until after March to release in April, which I think was a wise move. With the limited time we’ve had, even in April, we’ve been able to wrap our head around a lot of the logistics of trying to make the best release possible and plan a fun event.
How have you prepared for the CD release?
DG: It kinda sucks because Jesse went on tour with The Polyphonic Spree, so he’s gone right now. He’s on tour right now, and he’s not coming back until four days before our show. We’ve been practicing without him, and we’re just gonna hope for the best. It’s going be awesome. We’re going to have a good time. It’s gonna be a blast. Whatevs. We’re professionals.
JK: We’ve basically been going over all the logistics in terms of the production for the show and who’s gonna do sound, lighting, video. Then we’ve been trying to do all the merchandise stuff. It’ll be our first time to actually have a merch booth, which will be nice. The help of a girl in town named Chase Maclaskey has done most of the art for the record, and then the merchandise has branched off from that initial design of hers. She’s helped design a lot of that as well. It’s going to be nice to have some imagery as well that we can associate with some of the music we’ve been writing. I think it suits them pretty well, kind of campy and fun and just throwback-ish.