A New Hop for the Disco Biscuits
In the basement of its recently renovated Philadelphia studio, the Disco Biscuits are huddled around a computer, blaring hip-hop and working on tracks for a Def Jam mogul (sorry folks, anonymity required). For a band known for its long, improvised blend of trance and fusion, commercial rap seems like an unlikely source of inspiration- let alone work- especially given the band’s recent collaborations with psychedelic DJs like Simon Posford. But after inheriting a recording space from DJ Jazzy Jeff in 2005, the group rented an extra room to famed hip hop producer Dirty Harry, the man responsible for a number of Beanie Siegel’s biggest hits. Quickly finding common ground, the band soon began cranking out backing tracks some for some of Philadelphia’s hip-hop heavyweights.
Since its last studio effort five years ago, Senor Boombox, the Disco Biscuits have picked up a new drummer (Allen Aucoin), issued multiple live albums (including the TranceFusion series), and survived a somewhat unplanned mini-hiatus (loosely between ’03-’05). And now, with the hands-on addition of Harry in the mix, the stage has quite a different setting. Though the results are being kept under lock-and-key until they’re completely ready, they gave us a sneak peek at the process.
Making Hippie Hoppy
Dirty Harry: It started out when we rented some space to do some of our own shit for artists like Ludacris, but then we started throwing around ideas with these guys. They’d lay down some instrumentals on our shit and I’d throw some ideas their way.
Marc Brownstein [bassist]: He’s only 19 and already one of the city’s hottest producers. We were working on a track and Harry rolled in and laid down on our couch. He woke up and was like, “Wow, that kind of sounds like Coldplay.” He nodded back to sleep and woke up and said, “Yo, I think I got a hook,” and then he went into the booth and sang this verse.
Harry: I had heard of them, but never heard them before I started working here. I still have never seen them live outside this space. Most of the rock bands I listen to are like Queen and Guns ‘N Roses, so I’m trying to bring a little of that influence into their world.
Marc: We’ve never really been exposed to the hiphop side of the music industry, so it’s been nice to have a new perspective on how they write, record and produce their material. There is definitely a hip-hop flavor going on, but this isn’t going to be a hip-hop album. We take trance beats and work them into our style, dub beats and work them into our style, and I can see us taking hip-hop beats and working them into our style.
Division of Labor
Jon Gutwillig [guitar]: My job, typically, is to sit on the couch and write lyrics. I don’t do as much producing, mostly because I don’t know how to use the software as well as the rest of the guys and there aren’t too many other people in here with notebooks full of lyrics.
Aron Magner [keys]: Jon will come with a cool chord progression and plug it into our system and, while he fleshes out his lyrics, we’ll build around his initial idea. It’s actually been really organic.
Harry: Philly has these two different worlds and it’s cool that they’re coming together. Usually I’m under the gun with my work and it’s really stressful, so it’s cool to be able to slowly develop their ideas.
Marc: Part of making an album in our own studio is we don’t have to turn it out in 14 days. We can release it in 2007 or 2008. All I know is this album will hit stores before Chinese Democracy. Axel is clearly waiting for China to adopt democracy before releasing that thing.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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