What a difference a year and a half makes. In late 2009, Brooklyn’s The Reveling turned in the decent 4-song EP 3D Radio. DIY to its core, the songs were solid, but clearly only hinted at what was to come. With the release this summer of the band’s new record Tributaries, their debut full length, The Reveling has sharpened their hooks, tightened their melodies and written their strongest songs yet.
The secret? The band simply found their groove, according to guitarist Dave Kramer, who spoke recently about that new record, working with producer Alex Newport (At The Drive-In, Samiam, Frank Turner) and planting the punk rock flag in Brooklyn.
Innocent Words: Let’s begin with how the band first got started?
Dave Kramer: Sean (Morris, vocals and guitar), Dennis (Murphy, bass) and I all went to the same high school and have been playing in various bands ever since. Although The Reveling is the first time all three of us have played together. About 10 years ago Sean and I both happened to be living in Boston, and we started playing out with some of his solo acoustic material. We did that for a few years, and then in 2007 we both found ourselves living in New York and wanting to start a full band. Dennis was quickly on board, and then in typical New York fashion, we found our first drummer Dan, via Craig’s List.
Kramer: Our second drummer, Jay (Weinberg) played the last EP 3D Radio. He joined in 2008 after Dan left the band to finish up grad school. After some moonlighting with other bands Jay moved on and now is playing with Against Me! I caught them at their last New York show and it was really high energy, a lot of fun. So that brings us up to present day and Tributaries. Jay left right as we were writing the first songs on the new record. We immediately called a close friend of ours, Brendan, who Dennis and I used to play with. Initially we were going to ask him to fill in temporarily since he lives upstate, but the first rehearsals went so well we just decided to make it work. And so far it’s been a blast!
IW: I really like Tributaries. It sounds like the band has evolved immensely since the EP came out just a year and a half ago. Is that a fair statement?
Kramer: Yeah, I would say that’s fair. I think our style is essentially the same, but we definitely got into a good groove in the song writing process for Tributaries. The songs have more depth and we really found our sound. I also think the recording quality of the new record brings it up to a whole new level for us.
IW: How was the recording of this album different than 3D Radio?
Kramer: 3D Radio was completely DIY. I had some recording gear and the tiniest bit of knowledge of what to do with it. We wrote the songs, mic’d ourselves up and hit the red button. This time around for Tributaries, we were ravenous for a top notch recording. So we hooked up with producer Alex Newport and booked some time at the legendary Blue Meanie Studios in New Jersey. A lot of great records were done there. Quite a bit of time was spent recording demo tracks in pre-production. We essentially recorded the album ourselves to iron out all the kinks before going to the studio to do it for real. This allowed us to make the most of the studio time. We couldn’t have been any more prepared. And I think it shows in record.
IW: How did you end up working with Alex Newport?
Kramer: When we first decided to seek out a producer, the first thing I did was look at all my favorite records. It didn’t take long to notice Alex’s name on most of them, either as producer or mixer. I looked him up and found that he had a studio right here in Brooklyn, and immediately sent him a note. A few weeks later we met and talked about music, recording and listened to some of our preliminary demos. He really liked our songs and after a few postponements, we were lucky enough to fit into his hectic schedule.
Recording with Alex was a great experience. He’s got an amazing ear, the technical skills to match and just an all around nice guy. After the recording was done we all felt kind of strange not hanging out at his studio.
IW: Can you talk a little bit about the song “Charlotte Thompson”?
Kramer: “Charlotte” was originally an acoustic song Sean wrote back in 2005. In the last couple years we made a few futile attempts to re-work it with the full band, but it just didn’t stick. We gave it another try when working on the songs for Tributaries with Brendan, and it just came together. It’s one of my favorite songs on the record. As far as the content of the song goes, this is what Sean had to say about it: “The song is a semi-fictional, mostly metaphorical story about a girl, Charlotte who makes a lot of bad choices and finds herself in the gutter. The song is about redemption, family, friends and those people around you that love you. It’s a constant reminder to not take for granted the people in your life who really care about you”. If you spend a little time on Google you might find the original acoustic version.
IW: Brooklyn obviously is better known musically for trendy indie bands. Is there a punk scene there as well or do you spend a lot of time playing in New Jersey and elsewhere?
Kramer: There’s definitely a lot going on in Brooklyn, including a thriving punk scene. Between the house shows and the established venues, there’s always something going on. We spent most of the last year working on this record, so we’re about to kick into touring mode.
IW: Which is a nice lead in to my next question: Do you plan to be on the road much this summer?
Kramer: We’re aiming to hit U.S. dates later this summer and we just started to look into touring Europe in the fall. Keep an eye out for us!