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Dry the River on Touring, Hungarian Goulash

written by: on April 23, 2012

Acoustic guitars, violins, tattoos, and beards. In these qualitative instances, Dry the River follows the hallmarks of the folk-rock tradition. But that is where the folk-rock tomes end; the group’s progressive sound owes as much to the roaring cresecendos of post-punk as it does the hushed, quiet strums of acoustic balladry.

After months of extensive touring, the Southampton, England quintet caught the attention of Transgressive Records (Neon Indian, Pulled Apart By Horses) who signed the group to their label. This made an extended European tour possible, and more recently, a trip across the pond to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where Dry the River have just finished up recording their debut LP, Shallow Bed.

For frontman Peter Liddle, deeper pockets mean anything but a sterile, mainstream sound. According to Liddle, the band’s studio time with producer Peter Katis (The National, Interpol) struck “a balance betwen lo-fi and hi-fi.” Liddle and bassist Scott Miller sit down with Pop ‘stache to talk touring, their new LP, and working with the esteemed producer Katis–who we learn makes fantastic Hungarian Goulash.

Pop ‘stache: Enjoying Chicago so far?

Peter Liddle: Not really. We spent our free time before the show showering and doing laundry.

P’s: Dry the River’s current American tour is in support of your new LP Shallow Bed. When can we expect a release stateside?

PL: Shallow Bed comes out here in the United States on the 17th of April.

P’s: You guys played at South By Southwest. How was that experience?

PL: It was hectic for us. We had about five sessions a day and shows every night. So we did a lot of work.

Scott Miller: It was a real carnival experience. There was amazing food. We’d be carrying our equipment to the next venue site and all these different bands would be coming out of different bars. So much great music and crazy parties going into the night. We had a great time.

P’s: Crazy SXSW parties. That sounds exciting.

SM: Oh yeah. We played at this house party in this tiny wooden house somewhere in the suburbs. The whole experience was quite weird as there was a bunch of weirdoes who were dancing in front of us.

PL: Ballroom dancing actually. There was this one guy who had a rose in his mouth as was doing the tango with another guy.

SM:  The whole thing was like Twin Peaks.

P’s: Sounds like a damn good cup of coffee.

PL: [Laughs] I think we were there till six in the morning. It was a fun night.

We played at this house party in this tiny wooden house somewhere in the suburbs. The whole experience was quite weird. —Scott Miller

P’s: Tell me about the creative process which went into recording Shallow Bed.

PL: Shadow Bed was produced by Peter Katis, who produced a lot of The National’s records.

P’s: How was working with Peter Katis?

PL: He is really paternal.

SM: Yeah, a really chill guy. He lives out in Bridgeport, Connecticut. So we flew out and did our recordings there. It took us about six months to record. About from last February to August. In-between recording sessions we were going back and forth to the U.K. doing festivals. We’d do like two or three week stints each time we came over. It was really cool as he has a beautiful big house. We aren’t used to living in such comfort.

PL: One of Peter’s specialties is Hungarian Goulash. Really delicious.

P’s: Have you implemented any new studio techniques that you haven’t used before with this new record?

SM: It is difficult to say as what we did on Shallow Bed was so different from what we did on our previous recordings we did before.

PL: All the things which we recorded before have a different feeling. Peter Katis has a great ear for sonic layering and adding textures, which [let us] produce a sound which we haven’t produced before. Live we are a raw five piece band–just the five of us playing our instruments. Singing and playing as loud as we can. But in studio we pulled back a bit and chilled out, which allowed us room to add different keyed instruments in order to create a more rounded sound.

P’s: So you’d say that you benefited from having Peter Katis as your producer.

SM: Yeah, although Peter is a bit of a hands-off producer. He’d leave us to the songwriting but would tell us straight off if it would sound good on the radio. You know, get these songs down to three and a half minutes. It was cool and we had a lot of ideas.

PL: Peter said that “You guys are a band. You can write songs.” He was like, “If you are going to thrash your guitars then you better play your drums soft so that the album isn’t just a wash of noise.” Stuff like that.

P’s: After this tour where does Dry the River go from here?

SM: After we finish up in Dallas, we fly back to the U.K. and do a festival called One Fest. We have one day off then we back straight back on tour in U.K. and then back in Europe. Hopefully, come May or June we can do a couple of shows here in the U.S. We are looking to do a headline tour so we are trying to figure that out.

P’s: What about your next album? Lay anything down yet?

PL: Not really, as we are currently focusing on touring. But if all goes well, we are planning on getting something out by early next year.