It’s Rob’s first time recording on the drums. What does he bring to the band?
It’s just a whole new set of hands. Drummer hands. It’s cool. It’s like a new band, and then it’s Tom’s second record, so he’s pretty new. Basically it’s like a new band. I’m playing with two new members. It’s different. I’m still writing the songs. I wrote the songs in the past, but having different people playing makes it feel a lot different live. It looks different. It is different. It makes me play differently off of those guys. You play differently when you play with different musicians. But it’s basically still Nebula. Just with new members.
Playing with different musicians, does that account for the change in sound?
Yeah. That and then also I’ve grown too, writing music. Plus we produce our own records. We’ve just grown in that way and gotten better at producing records, better at writing songs. The band, the musicians are better. Better not in a number one or number two way, just better different.
How is it writing the songs now as opposed to in the beginning?
I usually write them all. I write the music and I’ll put it on an eight-track at home. I demo them, play drums and everything. I do the whole song myself, and then I bring it to the band, show them, and they listen to it and they’ll play it, take what they hear from it, and add their drum rolls or their extra bass lines or whatever. The basic structure is written. I write it all and record it. It’s kind of been the same way, but like I said, it’s two different band members. They really have different ears and hands and ways of playing it, so it’s different from what it was.
When you’re writing, do you think of them as players and what they’re going to play to it? Do you write around that?
Nah, not so much (laughs). They take it, listen to it, and then it’s up to them to take what they hear and play around that. Plus, on this record, there’s one song, ‘Running Of The Bulls,’ it’s the last track that’s done by Rob by himself on his computer. And he has this entire thing where he types in the words and it’s computer-generated voice going, ‘Fuck you, eat shit. Die.’ (laughs) So that was Rob’s track. Tom actually did his on his eight-track, the ‘Dream Submarine’ instrumental. So both Rob and Tom had tracks on this record.
It’s interesting to find out you’ve been doing the writing all along because the band has undergone so many changes sound-wise. What are your goals stylistically now?
More dynamics, I guess. I’ve always been into the late ‘60s, early ‘70s music, anywhere from heavy stuff, 13th Floor Elevators, to Tomorrow, and then I also like Captain Beefheart, The Stooges, The MC5. I think earlier on, we were kind of still in more of the rock, Stooges, version of things. Wah pedals and Hendrix-style things. Now I think it’s a little bit more dynamic, spaced-out. We’re adding keyboards, Moog synths, using different amplifiers on different songs. Some have a Marshall, some have Twin Reverb. Some have a Vox, so it gives it more dynamics, I think.
In the two different kinds of recording, digitally and analog, do you get different opportunities to add layers to songs?
Yeah, you do, actually. But I try to keep it pretty simple. I’m actually cutting down the amounts of tracks we use. It’s usually one guitar track with an overdub here and there with melody through the song in certain parts. A keyboard track, maybe, or an acoustic rhythm track or something. But I’m keeping the guitar tracks more sparse these days. I think that’s the difference between the sound on this record and previous records. Less overdubs, guitar overdubs.
It doesn’t sound like the songs are missing anything though. Why strip it down like that?
Instead of having two guitars, you have one guitar that sounds good and put a keyboard in the left channel and an acoustic during the chorus in the right channel. Then a clean electric comes in the background in the right channel in another part. Lot of stuff like that. Lot of left and right channel stereo mix.
You’re doing the big tour in August for pretty much the whole month. What’s after that?
We’re home for six days and then we go to Europe for 40 days. Then we fly back, get home like Sept.18 or something and go straight to CMJ in the end of October. I think on Oct. 20 or something. Then we’re gonna do like a week with a band called Quest For Fire, another Tee Pee band. This August tour, home for a few days, home for a few days, then Europe, then home a day or two, then New York for CMJ and a week of the East Coast shows with Quest For Fire. Then we’re looking into Australia and Japan at the end of the year. Then we’re gonna start recording some new songs. It’s pretty cool to be able to play all over the place like that. I guess all these years of touring kind of got us to that point.
Heavy Psych is available now on Tee Pee Records. Nebula will be at Santos in NYC with The Entrance Band on Aug. 22. For more info, check out myspace.com/nebulamusic.