In May of 2012, we took the long drive to Marfa, Texas to start working on a new album. When searching for the right recording studio, we had three requirements:
- It needed to be away from Austin. Away from the distractions that can come with working on an album in the place that you live.
- It needed to have good analog gear. We wanted to record straight to tape.
- It needed to not be outrageously expensive.
We looked at a few studios in Chicago, Boulder, and a few other places, but finally ended up choosing Marfa. Gory at Marfa Recording Company seemed to fit the project well and had lodging for us, so that was a huge plus. Gory’s studio is housed in a former cavalry base near the Chinati Foundation in Marfa.
About a week before we left, Lindsey’s dog, T.J. had to have surgery to have one of his legs removed because of bone cancer. T.J. came with us, so we could take care of him.
The studio was a quick bike ride from where we were staying.
We were to be there for a week. Five solid days of recording. Although the actual recording process went really smoothly and we were really happy with everything we were getting done, we had a few setbacks. One evening, we all piled into a car and drove to the McDonald Observatory to go to one of their Star Parties (highly recommended if you’re in the area). On the way back to our lodging, the car caught on fire.
Full disclosure, this is not a picture of that car. We only have this way more boring post-fire picture in which you can pretty much just see all the cop cars.
Our friend Ross Cashiola drove out in the middle of the night to pick us up.
There were a few other setbacks as well. Another car hit a javelina and seemed to be having alignment issues. There was also a bike wreck and several bike flats, but every time something went wrong, we’d look at T.J. and feel like babies. T.J. had just lost a leg, what did we have to complain about? He was being strong.
No matter what went wrong outside the studio, everything was going right inside the studio.
By the time we left, we had all the basic tracking done for the record. Our friends The Lonesome Heroes played in Marfa our last night in town, so we were able to send some gear back to Austin with them since the burned car wasn’t salvageable.
We sat on the recordings for a while because we were all in and out of town so much and had so many other things happening in our lives. After a while, we started mixing and dubbing in a few things here and there. Once we got mixes that we were happy with, we went back out to Marfa so that we could do a final mix down to tape.
Finally, we have it all done and are releasing it into the world.
The cover of the album is a photo taken by Dana Verrill, who is the father of Lindsey, our bass player.
Dana took this photo in the early 70s from the deck of the USS JFK while he was in the Navy.
You can see the edge of a wing on the right side, as well as the wake from the carrier on the bottom. We thought it was such a beautiful and mysterious looking photo. It seemed to fit the music on the album pretty well.
The title of the album is “Brought Low”, which is an old idiom that means to lose one’s position in society, or to be humbled by something beyond one’s control. There were lots of things in the process of making this album that were beyond our control, but we knew we were creating something that we could be proud of.
Now we’re done with it and extremely happy with the results. And T.J. is doing great.