Candlelight Red are making moves. In addition to constantly being hard at work on the road, the band just released its second full-length album, Reclamation. A hefty, vibrant portion of memorable hard rock, it’s obvious why so many radio stations, terrestrial and satellite, have gotten behind the record with its uncommon synthesis of heavy alt rock gusto and grandiose, Euro-metal ambiance.
Below, CLR bassist Jamie Morral talks about tone, touring, instrumentation and the production of Reclamation.
It seems to me like you guys are on the road all the time. Candlelight Red’s previous rhythm section left because they weren’t cut out for touring. What makes you different?
I’ve been touring since my late teens. You get accustomed to it. When you go home, you want to go home and be with your family and friends. But you get so used to touring it just becomes part of your life. Some people do the weekend warrior thing, playing Fridays and Saturdays, but once you get started really touring, it’s a totally different vibe. It’s a whole different lifestyle. You get accustomed to it. Some people just aren’t cut out for it, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m just so used to touring it’s hard for me to stay away from it. I enjoy it, but it is a long and monotonous road. You have to get used to it. It’s something I love to do.
Has the relationship with Imagen Records been your first record label experience?
No, me and Jeremy [Edge], the band that we were in before I joined him in Candlelight Red signed an independent deal back in ‘98. We put out our first record and it went well. We toured on that record for about a year and a half. Then the label ended up having some financial issues and they folded. We had quite a good following and release four records ourselves and it went well.
Imagen has been very good to us and we have no complaints at all. They’ve been very, very helpful. It’s a very positive vibe with everything.
Candlelight Red is a true four-piece, and I’m always curious about one-guitar bands; have you ever discussed adding a second guitarist?
No, it’s always been a one-guitar band. Jeremy is such a talented guitar player that we felt we never really needed that. And I feel pretty strongly about my bass tone and that I can hold the foundation down, even when he does leads and stuff like that. Our live sound engineer puts me right up there with the guitar. It’s not like some bands you go see where they’ve got two guitar players and the bass is just buried in the mix.
It’s the same thing on the record. If you listen to Reclamation, [engineer] Mike Ferretti captured my bass tone pretty close to what it is live. That’s one thing that I worked with Mike on in the studio. When someone comes to see Candlelight Red, I’m right up in the mix with the guitar.
After I heard the record, I was struck by your tone. Some one-guitar bands constantly talk about adding a second guitarist while others never even think about it. But making it work as a true four-piece has more to do with the bass player and his tone than anything the guitarist is doing.
I’m so into your bass tone, especially on “Reflecting” and “Demons.” It sounds sort of Fieldy influenced. What do you use to get that sound?
Everybody asks me that. Ultimately, good bass tone starts with the bass. You have to have a good bass and good pickups to get a good tone. I play Schecters. I’ve been endorsed by Schecter since the last time I was in a band with Jeremy and they’ve just treated me amazingly. For my tone, I have to have active pickups; I use EMGs.
I was playing the Ampeg SVT tube preamps for about 10 years. Then one day we went to Guitar Center, just killing some time. There happened to be a Line 6 LowDown preamp in there, which is a rack-mountable head. I just plugged it in and tried it and thought it sounded sick. I never thought I would change my setup. I’m all about “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
But I tried the head and ended up buying it to have as a backup, then I tried it a few times during soundcheck and completely switched over to it. Then I got another one, the LowDown HD750, the bigger one, and that’s what I use live now.
Also, I’m really heavy-handed; my fingers strike the strings really hard. When I setup the action on my basses, I try to get it so the strings fret out a little bit. That gives me some growl from the fret noise. I don’t have them bottom out too much so that I lose my low end and they don’t sustain. But that fret noise always helps to get that bass tone.
Growly is a good way to describe it. It’s not clicky, but it does have a crisp top end to it.
When we got the first mixes back from Mike at Architekt [Studios], Mike had never seen the band live. Our live sound engineer heard the mixes and was like, “Dude, we’ve got to get your live bass tone on the record. Because when people come see the band live, that’s part of the Candlelight Red sound.” So that’s when I started working heavily with Mike, hashing out what my tone is. Mike altered some stuff and sent it back and he totally nailed it. Even though he never had a chance to see the band live, he totally nailed the bass tone.
You do all the screams on the album, too. Was it hard to develop the coordination to play bass and perform vocals too?
It takes some time for me to get my fingers to do the right part and scream at the same time. I’m no Billy Sheehan on the bass guitar. I consider myself a good groove bass player. I play in the pocket, but I have to practice to get my parts.
We didn’t really do any preproduction for this record. We went in and recorded and wrote the songs in the studio, on the spot. We tracked the songs before we played them live. So when we got ready to play new stuff live, I had to sit at home and learn the bass part again and then say, “Okay, I have to play this bass part and sing it now.” I didn’t have to do that in the studio. I just tracked my bass in the studio and then tracked the vocals.
“Reflecting” is probably my favorite song on the record right now. What’s yours?
“Reflecting” is one of them. We’re actually tuned to G on that song. I had to write some vocals for a few of the songs, so I kind of like “Over Again,” which is a laid-back, mellow song. I wrote that song to be kind of meant for people who have lost somebody close.
Is there one area in which the band improved from working with Morgan Rose as your producer?
If you go from the Wreckage album  to Demons , the EP, you can hear the progress of the band. Me and [drummer Brian] Dugan being in the band changed the whole vibe. I loved that first record, even though I didn’t play on it, but I think the band has stepped it up a notch. I think the writing is better and the melodies are better.
Reclamation is the best thing I’ve ever been involved in. I don’t think there’s a weak track on the album. I think we could take any song of the album and put it out as a single. I’m very proud of the record.
Candlelight Red will play The Emporium in Patchogue, NY, on Aug. 16. Reclamation is available now. For more information, go to facebook.com/candlelightred.