There’s something to be said for knowing your shared influences.
“We all come from the same area,” Needles to Vinyl vocalist Nick Martin begins. “Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Soundgarden to some extent, Alice in Chains to some extent. We were all the same age when they were putting out their best music. And to listen to music now, none of the elements that were popular when we were that age, 12-13-14 years old, are in popular music today.”
There are more shared records and collectively beloved bands in Needles to Vinyl’s group memory—”Some of us firmly believe that Led Zeppelin’s the greatest band of all time,” Martin adds—but it’s the ’90s era of sound that gets distilled into a modern take on the band’s self-titled sophomore release, an album financed totally by the band itself—vocalist Martin, drummer Husks Carter, and brothers Dave and Ian Stults on bass and guitar, respectively. A few years of gigging around the city—weekly or monthly showcases at bars—has led them to pay for everything with their music alone, without grants or other outside funds.
“We made the decision that even though there are only four performers in Needles to Vinyl, there are five members to the band,” Martin says. “The fifth member is of course Needles to Vinyl himself, and he got paid very well for the past two years, whereas the rest of us did not.”
Part of those costs came in building a home studio/jam space to call their own. When Carter moved to an acreage just outside Sherwood Park, his new lot included a two-level garage/storage area. The band gutted one of the floors, and converted it into a makeshift studio, enough to lay down the basics for an album. It also offered the band a consistent place to practise and play, its availability affected only by their own schedules.
“Aside from the fact that it’s 25 minutes outside the city, it’s ideal,” Martin says. “We have an HQ where we can keep our gear, we can come and set-up at any time, we can be flexible with the time that we start, the time that we finish.”
In their own space, they could also prep the album’s tracks before bringing them to producer Stew Kirkwood, whom Martin also plays with in the Stax Records throwback band the Almighty Turtlenecks. Martin notes that Kirkwood’s encyclopedic skill with music meshed well with the band’s willingness to be pushed.
“There was that real, Beatles-George Martin moment, where we would sit in the room, and he would be at the piano teaching me how to do something different, and then we would do a take,” he says. “And then he’d be like, ‘That’s good, but you can do it better.’ He’d really push me. This is the reason we started working with Stew, and as we got to know him better, it just became more easy.” V
Sat, Jul 12 (8 pm)
With King of Foxes,
Mayday & the Beatcreeps
The Artery, $8 (advance),