Inside Widespread Panic’s New Album: Dirty Side Down with John Keane
After recording two records in the Bahamas with producer Terry Manning, Widespread Panic returned to Athens, Ga. to work on its 11th studio album, Dirty Side Down. Recorded in a residential neighborhood with longtime friend and producer John Keane, Dirty Side Down offers a mix of new Widespread Panic material and road-tested songs the band has never released on an official album.
Relix magazine’s Amy Jacques caught up with John Keane this February to discuss the band’s time in Athens, the death of Vic Chesnutt and why Dirty Side Down is a “return to the old Panic way of doing things.”
When did Panic first approach you about producing the upcoming record?
Last summer they contacted me and said that they wanted to come back in and do another album.
What’s it been like working in your Athens studio with the guys again for the first time since 2003’s Ball?
It’s been great. I really enjoy working with these guys. We’re good friends and we’ve done a lot of recording together. So I’m always looking forward to coming back in the studio. I’m also pretty excited about working with Jimmy Herring, their new guitar player.
If I am correct, this is the first Panic record you produced that features Jimmy Herring. Can you talk about working with him in the studio?
Working with Jimmy’s been great. He’s definitely one of the better guitar players on the planet in my book. I’ve always wanted to work with him in the studio. I’m used to working around the limitations of the musicians I’m working with. But Jimmy doesn’t seem to have any limitations. He’s capable of playing some really gorgeous guitar solos and I mainly just wanted to bring that out and showcase him in these songs as much as possible. And also, he’s been writing songs with [the band], so some of the new songs really reflect his style and his input.
What percentage of songs on the album were written before the recording sessions?
Most of the songs were written before they came in. There is one song that actually still doesn’t have a title. We’re calling it “Drop D” because the guitar players drop their E strings down to a D to get a special tuning. That’s the only one that they wrote or put together in the studio. There’s an older song of JoJo Hermann’s called “Visiting Day” that they’ve been doing for a while. They came in and completely reworked that around a guitar riff that Jimmy came up with and sort of adapted “Visiting Day” to that guitar riff. So, it’s a new version of an older song and it’s totally different, especially in the verses.
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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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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