Rare Creatures Wrapping Up Debut Album at Coast Records Studio
Earlier this week, I stopped by Coast Records Studio to hang with Rare Creatures while they worked on their upcoming debut album with Matt Zutell behind the boards. When I walked in, frontman Coleman Sawyer was channeling his inner Tom Delonge to lay down some vocals for “Swift 182”, a track that toys with the idea of Blink-182 and Taylor Swift joining forces to write a song. Matt told Coleman to give him some more “sass”, and Coleman belted out some verses that are likely to make the final cut on the upcoming self-titled record.
I mention this because the most prominent aspect of hanging in the studio with these guys was the way they gelled with Matt. In between back-and-forth banter and jokes, there was an air of business about the whole thing. Coleman has an idea in his mind of how he wants these songs to sound, and Matt works his magic to bring that to life. At the time, the record was a little more than halfway completed, and from what I heard, it’s shaping up to be a good one.
|Keller tracking guitar.|
Not long after I showed up, lead guitarist Keller James came in to throw down a few licks on “Isotope” and “Youth & Truth”. He spent the afternoon tinkering with different effects and chord progression until he had the sound he wanted. This includes a lot of fuzz and distortion, used in different ways to give each song a unique flavor. On the final cut, you’ll hear plenty of alternative rock mixed in with ambient guitars, tight drumming, and influences drawn from all across the board.
One interesting influence comes from the late Lil Peep, on a song called “Die Young”. Coleman wrote the track the day after Lil Peep passed away, and it has quickly become one of the band’s favorites to play. Coleman says he was fascinated by Lil Peep’s overall vibe, and was especially interested in the late rapper’s idolization of Kurt Cobain. This led to a connection between the Rare Creatures lyric “All my heroes broke their mirrors”, and a lyric from Nirvana’s “Lithium”: “I’m so ugly, that’s okay, ’cause so are you / We broke our mirrors.” In this way, the song comes full circle.
Between recording different parts, I got to talking with Coleman, Keller, and Hugh Camp (bass) about life in the world of Rare Creatures. I knew they had been playing the songs that will end up on this record for a while, and I wanted to know if their time in Matt’s studio had changed these songs in any way. This got some conversation going:
“If anything, Matt made the songs a little worse,” Coleman laughed. “Really, though, we condensed stuff a little bit, tightened everything up…”
“We also added a guitarist…” Hugh chimed in.
“Yeah,” Coleman said. “Aaron (Reece) just joined the band two days ago, and tomorrow (2/7) at Royal will be our first time playing together as a full five-piece. That’s probably the biggest change.”
“We’ve basically just been recording the way we play the songs live, and then changing things afterwards to see if we can make it better,” Hugh said.
“At least for me, today,” Keller said, “I’m trying to hone in on certain parts and approach it a little bit differently, mix it up a bit. And I know tomorrow I’m going to apply that to how I play live.”
“Yeah, if anything, the studio has affected the live more than the live has affected the studio,” Coleman said. “We’ve always had shows coming up, so we’ve had to practice just to get it down. This is the first chance we’ve had to really focus in on how we can make each part the best it could possibly be.”
“It kinda sounds like spending some time with me in here is making you guys better,” Matt said.
“Nah, man, I wouldn’t go that far,” Coleman said.
|Not pictured: Matt giving Coleman the finger|
I went down to the Royal American last night to check out this Rare Creatures five-piece, and I will say that Aaron fits right in with the rest of the band. If Coleman didn’t announce to the crowd that it was Aaron’s first time playing with the full band, nobody would have been able to tell. Aaron is a natural complement to the Rare Creatures sound, and will be a great addition going forward.
The self-titled full-length Rare Creatures is currently slated for an early Spring release. Between now and then, the band plans to release a few singles, as well as a few videos. Up-and-coming Charleston visual artist Nikki Scioscia is working on the album art. See Nikki’s work on Instagram here.