5 Questions With... is your chance to get to know a new or up-and-coming band. Recovery Council are from New Jersey, and their debut album is Plan-Do-Check-Act. Vocalist/guitarist Rebecca Qualls introduces us to her band.
Give us a brief history of Recovery Council.
Recovery Council actually started as almost a polar opposite of what it is today. Although I had started out as a classical pianist turned metal bassist in my earlier years, I began writing some geeky lo-fi space rock and eventually recorded an album using acoustic and electronic instruments more out of utility since it was a solo effort. I wanted to evolve the music into something a little more organic and heavier-sounding, so while writing new material I was playing bass in another band with Jeff (Trenholm, drums) and asked if he'd be interested in recording some drums on a new Recovery Council album.
Together we recorded Gentle Stories and began playing live as a duo in 2011 (I played guitar with an octave pedal while looking for a bass player). That summer we found Isidro ("Sid") Santos - he was the missing piece of the puzzle on bass. Because the music is very bass-centric, his fluid melodies really complemented it well. With a full band in place, my writing took a slightly heavier turn, and our sound as a band really meshed together playing live and recording Plan-Do-Check-Act in the summer of 2012. I'm happy with the end product considering where it began - it has really evolved into a more focused direction with an edge I want to explore further.
How would you characterize the style/sound of Plan-Do-Check-Act?
The album has a heavy rock nucleus but there are some subtle tinges of other genres on the rock spectrum, including metal, college rock/post-punk, and a tiny pinch of progressive. I sometimes call it "alloy rock" since the music pulls from a combination of those elements while being its own entity. Sure, anyone could say, "they're grunge/garage rock/post-punk" because this album is primarily distorted guitar, bass, and drums, but there's a bit more going on in the music than just that basic rock element. And listeners often notice those subtleties - we've had people come up to us after a show and say, "How do you categorize yourselves? I can't quite place it".
In some ways, that's an interesting place to be because it's not easy to describe with a cookie-cutter point of reference, but not because what we're doing is so out there that it can't be classified. It just pulls from different areas in indirect ways without pretending to be any of those genres or sounding like a carbon copy of our influences. As a result we've found this album has resonated well with fans of hard rock, metal, and college rock - and a lot of them are also just passionate about music like we are, so we're in good company.
Describe your songwriting/recording process for the album.
I started writing by working up the music and lyrics, then recording the basic song structure with a scratch guitar/vocal tracks and beats. I'd show the drafts to the rest of the band, and then together we would sharpen it up live. But while I may essentially write the music and lyrics, it wouldn't be what it is without each member's individual contributions on bass and drums. I am conscientious of their freedom to work out their parts within the space of the song so that they bring their own identity into the music and enjoy what they're playing. With that said, the musical chemistry in this band is something we're really lucky to have, and it makes the whole process flow that much easier.
As far as recording, we'd use the tempo of the rough draft's beat to record to. I'd record new guitar and vocal tracks if necessary, then send the song electronically to Jeff and Sid. They'd record their parts, send them to me, and I'd drop them into the song, mixing as we go and using each other's input as a team to strive for the best possible sound we can create with what we have.
What has been your most memorable Recovery Council live show, and what are your upcoming show/tour plans?
The show that stands out the most for us, and probably because it was one of several Spinal Tap moments we've had, was a show we played in 2011 in NYC. The venue where we were supposed to be booked had closed for renovations, and at the last minute our gig got moved to a jazz club. That alone should say it all. Everything that could have blown up that night really did so in grand fashion - from going on after a performer singing jazz standards (while we love jazz, those fans understandably did not appreciate us), to clearing the room with our loud, mismatched set, to the rusty skeleton of a drum kit Jeff had to try playing on without it falling apart, to breaking a string on a Floyd Rose, to the strange drip from the ceiling on my side of the stage that I prayed wasn't coming from a bathroom upstairs. It was a disaster, but we still laugh about it to this day. How's that for memorable?
This year, though, jazz clubs aside, we will be playing more appropriate local and regional venues to support the new release. We have a string of dates through March and will continue to book into spring.
Anything else you'd like to mention or promote?
Now that Plan-Do-Check-Act has hit the streets, a highlight of the release will be our CD release show/party which will take place January 25 in an unconventional venue: we're playing live with a laser light and star show at the RVCC Planetarium in North Branch, NJ. It's an interesting change of pace for a show that we think fans will really enjoy. For more details, news, and all our upcoming dates check out our website as well as our Facebook and Twitter feeds.
(photo courtesy Dot Ultra Records)