We’ve always had a deeper affinity for UK music than for American music. There’s a romance and charisma to it that Americans can’t naturally reproduce. It’s got style.
Sweet Sweet Music talked to Corey Cunningham of Terry Malts about Lost At The Party.
Lost At The Party has been described as Californian Power Pop but, at the same time, it sounds like Liverpool in the mid 80s. Does that make sense?
Definitely. The “California Power Pop” is a pretty lazy tag. I think it comes from rock writers who don’t have very deep record collections. We’ve always had a deeper affinity for UK music than for American music. There’s a romance and charisma to it that Americans can’t naturally reproduce. It’s got style.
How did the album come together? Why the new approach?
Within a week of finishing the basic recording of our second album I had moved to Los Angeles and started a new life. Our bassist/singer Phil moved down for about 9 months at one point, too. The ensuring two years of touring, writing, and demoing brought out that desire for change. As much as we put our hearts into the second record, it seemed like we were treading water.
Also our old band, Magic Bullets, was the kind of group that would really usr the studio as an instrument by implementing overdubbing and production techniques. I’ve really missed layering guitars in particular since we had been making music as Terry Malts. I was hoping we could reconcile the sound of the two bands by finding a sonic midway point between them.
Once we had the songs together, I approached Monte Vallier who had mixed the last two albums and also recorded the final Magic Bullets EP. I’ve been a fan of his ability to manipulate sounds for a long time. He has an incredible ear for tones and a sweet nature. If you listen to his work, particularly with the band Weekend, you can really notice the detail he adds to a recording. He has a lot of unconventional techniques and I’d describe him as the closest thing to George Martin that this generation has.
I brought notes for every song and we sent him tracks by other artists (some of which you can find on our Party Platters mix on Spotify.
From there we recorded the basic tracks and started overdubbing different guitar tones, keyboards, and sound effects. Over the course of the next few months Monte mixed the tracks. Once we had a final mix he bounced the mixes down to a cassette tape, played the tape back through a boombox, and mic’d the boombox with a close mic and a room mic in his kitchen. It gives the recording a really dense, warm feel.
How will you promote Lost At The Party?
Is touring the most important part? Or is Facebook as important?
The first thing we did was create a 1-800 number for people to call and hear a little skit promoting the album that I created with our friend Sean O’Shea. It makes fun of these corny American commercials advertising compilation CDs that were really popular in the 90s.
Since then we’ve been touring in patches. It seems to make the most sense because it’s hard for everyone to get time off from their day jobs. We’ll be touring the US early next year and Europe over the summer.
I think touring is way more important than Facebook. In fact, Facebook is more of an obstacle these days because of their algorithm that only allows your posts to pop up in certain fan’s feeds if you’re “trending”. The only way around their algorithm is by paying them to leave a sponsored post in people’s feeds.
This was something I had serious hang-ups with and avoided for as long as we could. Unfortunately, this is the reality of being in a band now. You’re forced to participate in the marketing of your art, which feels completely wrong and puts you in a compromising position that you have to live with.
She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mix tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?
The Necessaries – “More Real”,
Durutti Column – “Bordeaux Sequence”,
Virginia Astley – “Some Small Hope”,
Amina Claudine Myers – “Going Home”,
The Mamas & The Papas – “Snow Queen Of Texas”
If you could pick two bands (any) to tour the world with. Who?
I would definitely put Henry’s Dress on there. Even though they’re no longer a band, I would say they have been the most influential on us. We played our first show after seeing their reunion show.
And I think I can speak for the others when I say touring with Neil Young would also be a dream come true. It’s been such a strange and horrible year for American politics and I’ve found myself drifting back to the two artists that seem to have brought me the most comfort in my life over the years: Neil Young and The Smiths.
What about The Netherlands?
We loved The Netherlands! Most of our shows on the last European tour were there and we played big festivals and little village bars. It was pretty special and the people were so engaged and caring. It’s the complete opposite of playing in America where nobody cares unless you’re already incredibly successful. Hopefully we’ll be back soon so we can hang out with our friends Bas and Marco.