This Friday is release day for Propagandhi’s new album ‘Failed States‘ via Epitaph Records. To find out a little more about the new album. We caught up with bass player Todd Kowalski this week to answer our On The Record questions. Expand this post to check out his answers. Pre-order your copy of the album [Here]. If you are yet to give the album a listen, you can stream it in full on their page [Here].
Tell us about the release title.
The title of the record is “Failed States” I suppose it alludes to the idea
Tell us about the artwork.
I drew the front cover, I had a very hard time coming up with a good idea. Eventually I just went with the flow. Originally the person on the front cover was throwing their charred head off a cliff, which was most likely due to the frustration I was having doing the cover. Eventually I made the person in a more sombre posture so it didn’t feel like it was as frozen in time or like an action scene from a comic book. The back cover of the LP and the CD insert were done by an artist named Charlie Immer. We saw Charlie’s paintings while pressing the internet for possible art. We liked it and asked if he would let us use it, which he agreed to.
What format/s will it be released on and how will it be packaged?
The CD will be released as a digipack to try cut down on plastic a bit. It will also be released on Vinyl. It was on colored vinyl as well but those are sold out, I believe.
Who will it be released through, and when?
The record will be released through Epitaph Records. The Cd’s will be released September 7th. The vinyl was delayed because the test pressing was rejected because the pressing plant had dusty plates or something and someone at Epitaph noticed they could hear crackling or something. So someone there was paying attention, which is good.
Tell us about the studio and why you chose to record there?
We recorded here in Winnipeg with John Paul Peters. We’ve known J.P. for a long time. He’s played in bands around Winnipeg for years, he’s a good guy and does a good job. He likes to keep the life and the excitement in the songs so I feel he was the right guy to choose to do it. The studio is nice and suited well for what we needed to do. There’s two separate rooms at Private Ear so we could keep the train rolling easily. We figured we’d rather stay in Winnipeg to record then to spend all our money and time travelling all over the place. I’m really glad we did it this way. It was nice to be at home then just go to the studio when we wanted to record.
Did you go into the writing process with a clear direction in mind?
No, we just play riffs and make music and see what comes out. I guess we’re always searching for sounds and feelings that make us feel something special whether they be happy, sad, mad, or our favourite which is “smad”. Something about smad songs seem to move us. We usually show up with riffs that we’ve been working, we show them to the rest of the band, we work on them together then we go home and work on them alone again and keep going in a cycle like that. It seems to work out well because we can put a lot of thought into our parts.
Were you listening to anything in particular during the writing / recording process that influenced the songs at all?
Hmm..besides the usual bands we like, NOMEANSNO, SNFU, RUSH etc.. A couple things that definitely influenced a couple ‘feelings’ in my songs were Napalm DEATH, and ARCH MATHEOS who is John Arch and Jim Matheos from the old metal band Fates Warning. Of course we’re all over the place with the things we like to listen to so there’s a variety of influences all somehow absorbed and subconsciously added to the tunes.
Were there any albums you were referencing to aim for a certain type of sound production wise?
No, we just wanted to keep the record “roomy” with real sounds, with no drum samples, or anything of the sort. We just got the sounds put up a ton of different mikes then tried to pull out the best sounds. Most of the effects you hear throughout the record are from Beaver and Chris’s guitar pedals as well. They played the effects to tape as they were recording the tracks.
How long did it take to record?
About a month in the end by time we were done mixing. We got a little bit lax by the time we were done mixing. We should’ve styed focused sharper and just got it done. It ended up going on a bit to long for our liking so it got a bit frustrating but thats ok, no big deal.
Tell us a little about the recording process the band used?
We recorded Jord, the drummer, playing along with the band. Then we over dubbed Chris, Jord and me separately. Finally we added the vocals then the back up vocals. There wasn’t too much flash to it. We just went in and played hard really.
Was this any different to previous processes you have used?
Yes, we were a lot less rigid and more free than we were on Supporting Caste. For that record we were way to concentrated on being in perfect tune and making sure everything was metronomically perfect. That’s not really my style, I suppose. I like the life and wildness of music. Having said that, I’m not disappointed with Supporting Caste i just prefer the way we did “Failed States”
Any guests involved? if so, who.. and what did they do?
Jords, partner Dee Dee, and our friends Lisa and Jen sang back ups in “Hadron Collision” they went as hard as they could it was pretty hilarious. I think they had a good time. We also got my friend Wab to say whatever he wanted in Anishnaabemowim which is a language native to this area. Wab’s a great guy and is the host of a TV show called 8th Fire that explores the relationships between settlers/immigrants and Aboriginal people in Canada.
Any particular equipment outside your usual live gear used in the process?
We had one extra huge 18 inch floor tom we added here and they or big pounding hits. ha. Other than that it was just our stage gear.
Any memorable studio moments?
I guess since we were going home every night the hilarity wasn’t as much this time around. Our experience at The Blasting Room last time was really funny because we were crammed in these little rooms together.
Any additional tracks recorded that didn’t make the cut but may see the light of day sometime?
We had one great song that was recorded but Chris thought he could do a better job of the lyrics or something so we left it off. That song had my best bassline as well! Have 7 left over songs that didn’t make it to the record. Those songs weren’t tracked though but they’re lurking in the background of life somewhere.
What track/s are you most looking forward to playing live?
I’m looking forward to playing, “Duplicate Keys” because it is right on, “Lotus Gait” because it’s fun to play with all the wacky bass licks I added, and “Rattan Cane” because I love the feel of heavy music coming through the speakers and that tune is pretty heavy.
How would you compare the final product to previous releases?
I think it’s a bit more raw, way more lively and exciting and our playing has improved a notch. I worked really hard on the bass so I’m way happier with it than I was on ‘Supporting Caste’ where I ended up being a little conservative due to the high pressure recording situation. The engineer J.P. was really encouraging me to go for it which I appreciate. It really put me in the mind frame to do my best without worrying too much about it.
Anything else you want to say or tell us about the release?
I hope everybody likes it and that they an feel the time effort and love we put into it. I also hope they’ll check out the lyrics and crank it as loud as possible!
PROPAGANDHI – FAILED STATES
Instores Friday 7th September via Epitaph Records
Pre-Order online now [Here].