Robbers on High Street
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Ben Trokan of Robbers on High Street set aside some time to give Tweed the story behind the band and some info on their new album, Tree City.
Let's start off with you're first LP, Tree City--it is currently being released on label Scratchie / New Line Records. Tell me about the relationship. How did you get involved with them and how has that relationship fostered into a full-length LP?
We started playing out in the second half of 2002 or so and a friend of ours, Megan--I knew her for a while. She used to work at a club and stepped in as a manager, started getting us shows. She knew James Iha who is pretty much Scratchie along with Adam. They are pretty much just an A & R team for New Line so, pretty much after we signed with them, we were just sort of dealing with New Line on a day-to-day. When they started recording us, they talked about putting out an EP first then putting out an album. So I guess, if it fell on its face, we would part ways...
The EP you are referring to is, of course, Fine Lines.
Fine Lines, yea.
In terms of the EP--there seems to be a lot of talk about how you have grown since you recorded it--it being Fine Lines--last year. You have toured for the last nine months or so, fine tuning your sound. Tell us about that? How is the new LP different?
Well, the EP--I don't know if it was a change of sound. Tree City--about half the songs we have on there we had before we made the EP. It was just a matter of song selection. With the EP, we had this outlet to make a cohesive five or six song recording. So we picked those and made this dark, sorta rockin' record. And we would hold onto this other stuff for the album and the album would have this different feel to it. A lot of Tree City we had never played live as a band. We would sorta piecemeal these songs together.
Let's talk about the recording process. You were able to work with Peter Katis who has of course, worked with the GetUp Kids, Interpol. Tell me about that. How were the sessions with Peter? Did he push you creatively?
We did the EP with Peter and, at that point, I feel like EP wrote the book for Tomer's drum sound... His drums were actually tuned differently. I think it was just the process. He has this patience. He taught us the revision side of it--how to play to the microphone. Mostly, he is just an amazing sonic ear and is into mic placement and just gets amazing sounds.
I absolutely loved reading about your studio time recording your EP. I'm a sucker for bands that treasure their mistakes. Ben, you said, "Pete wanted it clean but we wanted some of the mistakes left in." Were you going for a raw, live feels for the EP? What about on Tree City?
Yea, the EP was definitely all tracked--the four of us in a room for a song. But yea, he was sorta into, you know--there'd be a funky radio noise and he'd be like "no, no, no" and I'd be like, "just leave it." But we did that on the album too. There'd be times when we'd be tracking and we'd all be playing and there'd be all this chatter. And he'd be like, "this is gonna stay in there. We shouldn't do that but..." Sometimes, you have to do stuff like that in the moment to get everyone in a certain mood for tracking.
Did that ever bring about tension with Pete?
Oh no, no, no. He's the most down-to-earth, rounded person I think I've ever met. There was never any tension. He was a great person to work with.
In regards to the new record, Ben, you mentioned this about the lyrics on the new album, Tree City: "these songs are more honest lyrically; I think that maybe we we
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