By Dave Schutz
Boulder’s Springdale Quartet plan to release their first album, Noise Factory, on April 18 – four years to the day since they played their first show.
The process that led to Noise Factory started not long after that performance, with the band beginning work in 2008 with engineer Brad Smalling – owner of Evergroove Studios – and culminating with a marathon three-day session last November to lay the album’s basic tracks.
“We’re really excited to have this studio effort. [This is] something that we’ve put in, gosh, going on two or three years now” says guitarist Ben Waligoske, who hadn’t even joined the band yet at the beginning of the process.
The album spans material across the breadth of the Springdale Quartet’s existence.
“We just thought it would be nice to have some of the new stuff, some of the old stuff, and a little bit of everybody’s contribution.”
The title Noise Factory (after the name of the band’s home studio where the album was recorded) may be a bit misleading, given the results. From the teasers the band has posted on YouTube, it’s clear that Noise Factory is not a mass of chaotic, obnoxious, well, noise, but rather a well-polished and expertly performed collection of feel-good jazz and funk inspired jams. The songs are dense with melody and movement. Waligoske and the rhythm section – Greg Russell on drums and Jordan Roos on bass – run on all cylinders a good part of the time, but the machine is powered primarily by keyboardist Chase Terzian’s driving Hammond organ.
“Chase is the main songwriter,” Waligoske says. “He’s just got a phenomenal ear for structure and harmony.”
Most of the band’s output so far has been live recordings they’ve posted on archive.org, so the goal with Noise Factory was to create a more polished, studio-style affair without losing the band’s live energy.
“Right before Thanksgiving, we set aside about 72 hours and just knocked it out,” Waligoske says. “If somebody flubbed a note, we started over. Everything was live. All the solos on the album are live. All the improv sections are live.”
That doesn’t mean that Noise Factory was in the can and ready to hit the press after that session, however. Springdale Quartet spent the intervening weeks adding more layers and going beyond the raw live vibe to create something more polished: When I talked to Waligoske in early February, they were just getting ready to start mixing. The process runs parallel to some of the ways that Waligoske says the band’s songwriting has evolved over the years.
“If anything, it’s just a refinement. There’s more structure, more harmony being added and [more] thought being put into it. It’s not as much, ‘Oh, let’s just get up there and rip.’ There’s more to it,” he says. “It’s something that we’ve learned as a group over the last couple years of playing live – just how important dynamics, especially in instrumental music, can really be.”