Resonator, local Cincinnati band, recently released their first album, Swallow Your Concerns. I was fortunate enough to get to chat with Ian Campbell, lead vocalist and guitarist, about the recording process, how the band has evolved, and what’s in their future. Resonator plays at Live On Short Vine this Satuday at Taste of Beligum. Check out their set at 5:40 P.M!
Ian was kind enough to play a couple of songs from their album on the show. Listen to them in the link above!
Taylor: I was looking through the Resonator Instagram today and saw a post that said you spent a lot of time recording “in a barn and in a basement.” So can you tell me a little bit about the recording process of this album? Specifically the barn part, because that sounds pretty interesting.
Ian: Oh yeah. So Jackson Burton, our bass player, came to us with the idea that we could potentially record in a barn. It was a huge open space with, like, some baseball pads on the side, so he said it was gonna have the perfect acoustics for our cool garage rock sound.
The baseball pads were the insulation.
They absolutely were. *laughs* It was really cool! We showed up and probably way overstayed our welcome. One night, we stayed there until like 3 AM. We got all the instrumentals recorded for the album and some of the accompaniment—some of the auxiliary percussion and stuff. Then Jackson showed it to his physics teacher from high school and he listened to it and was like, “Guys… this is absolute garbage.” *laughs* The equipment and methods we were using just weren’t right for us. He was generous enough to let us record in his basement. This unnamed man is actually Corey Larrison from the Never Setting Suns, a local Cincinnati band.
They’re playing Live on Short Vine, too!
Yeah, I’m really excited to see them! So then we spent a month, maybe two months recording in Corey’s basement, then we moved the process to Jackson’s bedroom and finished mixing and sent everything off. So it was really fun having our hands in the whole process.
Next time you record in a barn, I’m trying to hear some bluegrass music from Resonator. So maybe that’s the type of music you should’ve been recording there.
Yeah, I’m trying to have some like animal sounds, like pigs walking around or something.
Maybe some horses neighing in the background?
So I actually got to be a part of the recording process with Resonator and recorded some background vocals on the album, so I’m asking all these questions as if I don’t know the answers. But I didn’t actually know about the barn, so that’s cool! I know you guys spent a lot of time working together in Jackson’s bedroom. Were you guys friends before Resonator? Does it just feel like you’re hanging out with your friends?
Yeah, interestingly enough, Jackson and I are from the same hometown. We’ve known each other since 8th grade, maybe even a little bit before then. We actually started Resonator with a different drummer, Luke Svenson. We kind of parted ways, he wanted to do his own music and stuff. So we actually picked up Nathan Hoeweler, from your hometown! He’s been on all of our recordings since. And since then, we’ve really become close. Especially during the recording process. It’s been a lot of late nights together. We were probably all arguing with one another, but we’ve really become closer because of it.
We were just talking about Resonator’s writing process and how you all want to be involved in it. I remember one time you sent me a song you were working on and I thought “Man, this is great!” but I couldn’t really hear the lyrics, so I asked you to send them to me and you sent this long, deep poetry with all this underlying meaning and I was so amazed! So are you the primary lyricist for Resonator? Do you have a past in writing music? I know you were in a band before.
So, I love writing lyrics. When I started playing in a band when I was a junior in high school, I was with two of my best friends in the world, Kyle Costa and Aidan VandeStadt. I wasn’t much of a writer then. I liked writing in creative writing class, but other than that I didn’t think I was that great of a writer. I felt like all my lyrics were so self-explanatory and had no deeper meaning. So I started working with Aidan, who was the primary lyricist for my high school band, and it must have rubbed off on me because as soon as he left I was like “Man, I don’t know how I’m going to write lyrics now,” and then I just sat down and started writing songs and never looked back. It’s probably my favorite part of the song-writing process.
It also probably had something to do with the fact that you grew up a little bit. I don’t think high school boys have anything too interesting to say.
*laughs* Oh, definitely. That’s definitely a part of it.
So, I know you guys are all students. You and Jackson specifically are UC students, which is really cool. You were mentioning that you guys are crazy busy, so how do you balance being students and being a part of Resonator? Because that’s definitely something I haven’t quite figured out how to do yet, so…
It’s tough, I’ll tell you that. Jackson’s in business analytics in the Lindner School of Business. I’m in engineering, so both of us are pretty busy fellows. Nathan’s over at Cincinnati State doing audio engineering. So, all three of us are really quite busy, but honestly, I believe that you make time for your passions. And I really enjoy school work, I’m kind of a nerd.
Spoken like a true engineering student.
*laughs* So I always put that stuff first but I love playing music. It’s a release for everything—my stresses, my happiness, high moments and low moments. Music is definitely always there for me. So I love to be able to play shows whenever we can, especially since the album has been released. Jackson is our band manager and he has booked an incredible amount of shows. We’ve been playing a ton and we have some more in the future. I’m just super grateful that we’ve been able to play all these shows—that bands have asked us to play, that people have been booking us, that honestly all of the people around Cincinnati that have supported us continue to support us. So props to the people who have been there since day one.
You guys recently released Swallow Your Concerns on vinyl after raising the funds through a Kickstarter, which you guys did super quickly, right?
Oh, yeah. I think we were lucky enough to make our goal in two days.
That’s awesome. Why was pressing the album on vinyl important to you?
So, I think it was my and Jackson’s kind of “idea baby.” When I was growing up, my dad played a lot of music on vinyl and I always thought it was so interesting. Jackson has had an interest in vinyl for probably the last three years or so, so when we started talking about it we just totally ran with it. And Nathan thought it was really cool, too. Plus I think it goes with our more “DIY” sound, and maybe a little bit of our retro sound. So we though pressing it on to vinyl would be that cherry on top of this album.
You released your first EP as Resonator a couple of years ago, right?
Yeah, I think it’s right around two years.
How do you think you guys have improved since that first EP?
I think really what that EP helped us do is figuring out the sound we want to achieve. Bill Sjulin from SwedeSpot Studio helped us tremendously. The first time that we got into a recording studio he really introduced us to a lot of the concepts we faced when we recorded the album. But I think we just really wanted a more hands-on approach. If we wanted to have this one instrument louder, we wanted to do it immediately instead of going through a third party. It was a fun life experience to put together this body of work that we will always be able to say “We did this by ourselves.” Obviously with help from people like Corey Larrison and you and everyone else who helped out with the album. Honestly, being able to say that we made this is just so fun.
So for your first EP, you recorded it somewhere and let them take the reins.
Yeah, we didn’t even use my actual amp sound; we went through a simulated amp. Which I thought was really cool at the time, but as time has gone on, I’ve realized I like the raw sound of going through a real amp. And with this album, the songs are all incredibly meaningful to me. They’re all kind of about growing up and growing into an adult— just going through shit and dealing with it. I think being able to cap that all off with recording by ourselves makes it that much more personal. We all got to share that pain and that joy and it was nice for bringing it all together.
What’s in the future for Resonator? I know you mentioned some shows coming up.
Yeah, so we have some shows and maybe a couple of festivals coming up. Definitely be on the lookout for those…
I guess you might not be the best person to ask about this. Maybe we need to phone Jackson in so he can give us the details.
We all know that I don’t know the dates. *laughs* I think we might try to get in the studio and push out some new music before too long! That’s pretty much what’s on the radar for us.
So who are you wanting to see from the Live on Short Vine lineup?
The Never Setting Suns are a necessity because Jackson is playing with them.
And Nathan is in Physco!
Yeah, no one liked me enough to ask me to play in another band… they probably knew I wouldn’t be able to remember what time to show up. *laughs* But we gotta see all of our friends at the festival! This Pine Box, In the Pines—and we just played a show with Fycus so I’d really love to see them again!
Check out Resonator at Live on Short Vine THIS SATURDAY at Taste Of Belgium at 5:40 P.M!