In Pound For The Sound, Phoenix New Times gets technical with local musicians about what gear they use to create their signature style.
When it comes to winning combinations in music, nothing beats a great producer-songwriter relationship. And that's exactly the kind of musical chemistry Kim Capria and Mitch Wyatt of the Banter have.
Capria writes the songs, Wyatt occasionally helps finish them, and then he makes magic happen on tape. The two definitely come from different places, but a chance meeting two years ago brought the creatives together.
Capria hails from Syracuse, New York, and moved to Arizona when she was about 12. She started singing in choir in middle school, joined the marching band as a drummer in high school, and picked up acoustic guitar at 19.
Now, she's a steady, active member of the Tempe music community. The singer-songwriter is actively gigging all over the Valley as a solo troubadour. And even though she hasn't always played in bands, she has been writing songs for over a decade. And the Banter project was a long time coming.
Wyatt is kind of the opposite.
The quieter of the pair, he's a home studio guy, a gear head. The producer hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, and he's been in the Valley for seven years now. The multi-instrumentalist has been playing since he was a teenager, starting on electric guitar in high school before taking on several instruments and moving more into an engineer/producer as his career in music progressed. He even performed alongside hometown hero Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World during Psyko Steve's Rock Lottery.
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The duo recently released "On The Sea," a song with catchy riffs and vocal melodies. It's a prime example of what a producer and songwriter can accomplish when they put their minds together. And Wyatt not only has worked on The Banter's music, but also tracks for several other folks, including a new song coming out where he collaborated with former members of the now disbanded Foxy Shazam.
With all the shows and new music coming out for these two, New Times was able to squeeze some words in via phone and email and catch up with Capria and Wyatt about their gear, the release of new music, and Chad Martin on drums.
New Times: What's the secret weapon of your sound? And how did that help you find your "signature" tone?
Mitch Wyatt: For drums, it’s definitely the room. My drum room is huge with a ceiling that vaults from 12 feet to 18 feet. The big ambient sound on the drum intro for “On the Sea” comes from a pair of ribbon mics 30 feet away. Chad Martin (Aunt B, Lost in the Sun) played on the Banter EP, and he really knows how to balance the kit, so I was able to really push up those room mics without it being a giant cymbal wash.
For everything else, I use a small, but effective collection of outboard gear which is used on the way in and/or at mix time. For vocals I use a Great River ME-1NV, 550b, LA2A, Distressor, DBX 520, and a Neve 542 into an Apogee converter. Guitar and bass are similar chains, just without the de-esser. I like to commit and get most of the tone going in rather than rely on a ton of plug ins. My sessions are rather lean on the plug ins, but heavy on the automation.
What's your favorite piece of gear in your collection and why?
Wyatt: Lately, it’s been the Kemper Profiling Amplifier. I used it on the Banter EP to get certain tones that I could not achieve with my Vox AC30HW2X. It’s a great tool to have around in the studio versus the expense of owning and maintaining a ton of different amps. It’s real strength is in a live situation! When I played with the Banter I was able to bring a lot of those exact same tones on the EP to the stage.
Any special pieces of gear acquired over the years? Any special story, or stories, behind your collection of tools?
Wyatt: My DAW (digital audio workstation) is 12 years old running on WindowsXP. She ages well, like an old Neve Console. Ha ha. On a serious note, it does everything I need it to for my workflow. I like working within the limitations of the old software. I have to be intuitive, make decisions on the fly, commit to sounds, and work within the 48 track limits. I think it’s very easy for a lot of engineers to get suckered into the cycle of software upgrades and thinking that if I only had this new plug in it would make me a better engineer. Although there are rare exceptions to that, I mostly focus on what counts — twisting knobs and making stuff sound good.
In terms of other gear with a history, have a Marshall 1960B cabinet that was owned formerly by J.T. Woodruff of Hawthorne Heights. I acquired it some years ago when I lived in Ohio and worked on his first solo record. It looks cool and sounds awesome. I put a variety of Celestions in it to give me a palette of tonal options when recording.
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Just listened to “On The Sea.” Great song. We love the catchy riffs and vocals and are excited for folks to hear it hear it here for the first time. Can you both please describe what your roles were while recording this track?
Kim Capria: This song started on a cruise ship a few years back when I couldn’t find someone I was looking for to be honest. It was a lot of fun creating this song. I think the “woo hoo hoo” was initially me just messing around, but it turned out I couldn’t get it out of my head! My favorite part of recording this song was with the drummer on the track, Chad Martin, [and] having his two awesome kids join us for gang vocals, it made the moment super memorable. Also featured on the track is Danny Torgerson (Captain Squeegee), Ms. Meliza Jackson (Decker) on guitar and Soraya Dominguez on bass. Mitch was always helping to make the songs better by adding to them where he saw fit. I feel very fortunate to have had such a talented recording engineer to help with my first EP.
Wyatt: Like the other songs on the EP, my role for “On the Sea” was engineer/producer/mixer. We would start off with some scratch tracks, figure out the tempo, then let Chad do his thing on drums. We did two drum takes for every song but always ended up using one take. We then would build on the foundation of the song with all the overdubs. Most of the parts were all written, but there were a few things I added to increase the production value. In “On the Sea,” for example, I added a Gin Blossoms-inspired arpeggiated acoustic and electric guitar picking thing in the chorus as well as a lead outro melody.
Mitch, you just recently finished a track with Alex Nauth and Eric Nally from the now defunct international touring act Foxy Shazam. Can you talk more about your involvement on that track please?
Wyatt: The song is called “Waves” by a new band called Cool Life. Alex is in the band and Eric is featured on the track performing the main vocals. They are filming a video for this song in a couple weeks. It will be a bonus track on Eric Nally’s upcoming release and is featured on the upcoming Cool Life LP which I mixed. For this particular track, I played drums, did some engineering and mixed it. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it—it crushes!
New Times is excited to be premiering your new song "On The Sea" today. Any words you wish to share with fans about your upcoming performances and music releases?
Capria: We are very excited about some up coming shows including Fayuca Rizing Beer Festival November 22nd at Helio Basin Brewery and Desert Frost Over at Marquee Theater December 16th! See you at a show!