For this week's Gear Talk, we're breaking it down with Aussie indie folk duo, HUSKY
. The band just released their latest album Punchbuzz
on June 2nd which was produced by Brian Lucey (The Shins, The Kills, Delta Spirit) and Matt Redlich. Clearly, they've witnessed some serious mastermind studio shit during their three album-long career, so we just had
to talk to them all about - you guessed it - GEAR.
The gear-tastic message from the band:
One piece of gear that I kept coming back to throughout the making of
Punchbuzz is an analogue keyboard from the 80's called Roland RS-09. It's a simple synth and one that you don't hear about very often, but it's warm and classic sounding and helped us to shape lots of new sounds for this record.
I'd never heard of this keyboard, nor had I seen it around until Jules Pascoe, our bassist bought one that the Swap Shop had for sale. In Melbourne, the Swap Shop is the joint for old gear. It's run by musicians, for musicians and has been an institution here for many years.
As far as being a vintage gear enthusiast goes, I was born in the wrong era. I used to walk home from school as a teenager and go past the local music store. I grew up in the suburbs so a music shop was a rare and exciting thing. This was in the mid 90's, when digital gear was very popular and analogue was passé. I didn't know it at the time, but this particular music store specialised in old gear, the kind of stuff I've spent hours on ebay searching for. There were Wurly's and Rhodes' used as bench tops to display the latest Ensoniq synths, and Leslies, old amps along with all sorts of vintage keyboards being used to hold doors open. The place had a magic feel to it, even then, before I knew anything about this kind of gear. Years later, when I worshiped gear of this sort, it had come back into fashion again and of course, the prices skyrocketed. Now we have the Swap Shop, the last bastion, and that's how I found the Roland RS-09.
It's a simple keyboard, even by Roland's standards. It has two main sound sources, the organ and the string section that can be used separately or together. The functions are limited, but they are all very effective. I used the tone control a lot to give more warmth to the patches and the vibrato section helped to shape those slightly wobbly, pitchy sounds that I've loved in so many recordings.
In the past I've generally stayed away from pad sounds, especially strings. This is the synth that opened me up to shaping these kinds of sounds and once I went there, I loved exploring it. Often the pads were used as textures, sometimes not necessarily audible, but it gave the music the beautiful colour and graininess that is very sweet on the ears but also creates a lot of vibe. It plugged so many gaps on the songs and worked like a warm glue linking the driven guitars with the Wurly's and piano sounds. Usually I like sounds to have their own space, so that they can be defined and beautiful and recognisable. And in the past we've tended more towards these textures, but this keyboard helped us steer away from this and create sounds that were less defined but still beautiful and complimentary to the songs.
Especially when recorded in stereo, it has a magical shimmering psychedelic quality that became an important sound for this record. For me it captures the spirit of so much of the classic music that I grew up listening to.
Jules kindly let me borrow this keyboard while we wrote and recorded the record. Now the record is done but I don't imagine he'll be getting his synth back anytime soon.
Also check out our live concert with the band: