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For many bands, there’s no problem 100 gigs won’t fix. For the Tedeschi Trucks Band, the road time has paid off with a more cohesive sound and relaxed vibe. Photo by Mark Seliger
How did you decide what bass player to use on each track?
Trucks: When we were making the record, we were also touring. It was a strange juggling act. We were rehearsing here for gigs and had time set aside for recording. When Bakithi came down, it was really to rehearse and not record. Once we got through the rehearsals, everything was set up and we had the tunes. So we decided to take a stab at “Misunderstood,” and I think by the second take it was done. It just felt right. So we started making the record a few weeks before we’d planned to. The bulk of it was Dave Monsey and Pino. We had four or five days with Pino scheduled and three or four with Monsey. I knew I wanted Doyle [Bramhall] and Pino together for one track. You had to save certain songs for certain people to be there—that was a little bit of a puzzle.
The album opens with a pretty fierce riff on the title track. How did you get that sound?
Trucks: It’s an open-tuning thing I played on my SG through an Ampeg B-12, just an old bass amp. With that song and "Whiskey Legs," the two real aggressive guitar tunes, we were fumbling with a lot of different amps to get a sound. When we plugged into that old Ampeg, it took everything you could give it and the low end didn’t disappear. I thought it was a great way to kick off the record.
You used several writing partners on this record. What were the sessions with Eric Krasno like? You both have been running in the same circles for a while.
Trucks: I’ve known Krasno since I was maybe 13 or 14 years old and Susan’s known him a long time. And like you said, there’s a lot of shared experiences in the same circles. We had Oteil, Kofi, Eric, and Adam Deitch down to the house about three years ago, and we wrote for a couple of days and ended up with close to 30 song ideas. It was an amazing little run of creativity. Eric, in a lot of ways, is an honorary band member. He was on the first record, so it was pretty natural to call him. If he’s working on a song and hears Susan’s voice in it, he’ll call and send a little idea along. Then he’ll come down and we’ll finish off the tune.
A lot of people we write with are that way. I have a connection with Doyle, and I’ve been playing with Oliver Wood since my teens. Susan has known [John] Leventhal for a long time, and Gary Louris too.
Tedeschi: We have a lot of very deeply rooted relationships with these writers. They’re all people we either look up to or are just really dear friends. And at the end of the day, they are all super-talented.
What’s a typical writing session like?
Trucks: It’s different with each person. Krasno has a studio and he’s always demoing things, so he’ll show up with something. Gary Louris shows up with nothing, so you sit down with three folding chairs and a few guitars, and a few hours later you have a song. He’s one of those guys where you sit down and see how the day is feeling and just pull something out of the air. Oliver Wood will usually have one lyric or one riff and you just go from there. Leventhal can work both ways. With Doyle, he shows up and we immediately go into “build a tune” mode. I’ll play bass and he’ll play guitar, and then he’ll hop on the drums—ideas just flying all over the studio.
You recorded this new album at your home studio, Swamp Raga. How did that affect your creative process?
Tedeschi: It really changed the whole game for us. First off, as parents, we don’t have to be away from the kids for another month. Which is hard enough as it is during the school year when we have to tour. Now if we’re making a record, we’re home—which is great. Also you aren’t stressed out about money. That can be a big problem with bands because you know you have to spend so much money per hour or day. This way we can just go in at all hours and not worry about that. You can just focus on the music instead.
Trucks: It allows us a certain freedom we would not have otherwise. We built this studio when I was doing the Clapton tour in 2006 and 2007, and the first record we did there was the most recent record with my band, Already Free. This is the first time we did all the writing, recording, and mixing in our studio—down to mixing to an old Studer tape machine. With every record, we try to feed the studio. If there’s any money from making a record—which there usually isn’t—we just throw it right back into the studio. Get an old tape machine or buy a good microphone. So every record sounds better, we know the place better, and everyone’s more comfortable. Now when the band shows up, everyone knows where their spot is, and how it feels and sounds there. That adjustment period in the studio is gone. It’s very comfortable when you first blow in after being on the road.