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interview with Laura Stein of JALE



interview with Laura Stein of JALE         by James Covey
recorded February 27 at, where else, the Daily Grind  :-)
---------------------------------------------------------

JC:     Maybe we could talk first about recording the album.  You did that
back in January, is that right?

LS:     Yep.  Second week in January.  We rented a house in East River,
and brought up Brenndan McGuire, who has a 24-track studio -- it's
portable -- and he came in and set up in the living room, and set up the
drums in the master bedroom, and our producer, Brad Wood, came up from
Chicago.  We did it all in the house for a week, and we had a really
good time.  Brad was amazing to work with -- he's a really nice guy,
really easygoing, and has lots of really good ideas.  Shall I use the
word "really" one more time?

JC:     *laughs*  OK.

LS:     And Brenndan recorded a couple of other people up here.  He did
a demo for us one day and we really like his style, and his equipment's
great.  And he's pretty much of a perfectionist.  They worked really
well together, because Brenndan has a real sort of, uh, "ear for
tuning", let's say, and Brad's really laid back, and they kind of work
really well together, I thought.  They both get along well.  Brenndan
did Thrush Hermit [*Smart Bomb* murderecords 7-song EP, release date:
March 4], and he did the Hardship Post single [coming soon], and did
some stuff with Al Tuck [also to be a murderecords EP].

JC:     Some people [Hardship Post and Al Tuck, plus The Superfriends]
came up after you guys were finished, and did some recording...

LS:     Yeah, 'cause we had the house for a month, so...

JC:     Right, so you may as well use the time...

LS:     Yup.

JC:     So how many songs did you record?

LS:     We completed twelve, and twelve are going to be on the album.
But our songs are really short -- they're like a minute each, or
something.

JC:     *laughs*  Yeah, you do write pretty short songs most of the time.
Not all of them, but most of them.

LS:     Yeah, most of them are pretty short.

JC:     This is gonna be, like, a slacker album.

LS:     That's right.  We don't have a long attention span, so...

JC:     The TV generation...

LS:     Exactly.

JC:     Are there songs on this that you had on singles before?

LS:     Yep.  We used "Emma", that came out on the derivative single, we
did a new recording of that, and it's different -- we've added a few
guitar things, and it sounds really good.  I like it.  And we
re-recorded "Promise" and "3 Days" which are both on the Sub Pop single,
and both of those are fairly different too.  Especially "Promise" -- we
had kind of a kitchen jam on "Promise", banged around on pots and pans,
picked up a guitar and just banged at it.  It was really fun.  A little
bit of the Brad Wood influence.

JC:     There's just so many different sounds on the Liz Phair record,
and he played like ten or twelve different instruments...

LS:     Yep.  When we did this kitchen jam, it was funny, because I had
a guitar, and Alyson was banging on some glasses with water in them, and
everybody had these little things -- Brad had pie plates, and he was
also opening and closing the microwave door!

JC:     *laughs*

LS:     Now that's a really weird and different sound.

JC:     Did you write one of the songs on the new single?

LS:     Yeah, I wrote "3 Days".

JC:     That's sort of a twisted blues or something.

LS:     I don't really know what it is.  It's the first one I've
written, I haven't written any before.  So I'm the late bloomer in the
crowd, I guess.

JC:     Who does most of the writing?

LS:     The three others share it equally.  Now that I'm ready to do it,
it's gonna change things a bit -- even out.

JC:     Do you write a lot of different ways, or do you bring stuff that
you've written by yourselves?

LS:     Everyone has a different style.  Some people have a really
specific idea of how they want each part to sound, and sometimes they
come in saying well, here's my guitar part, and here's the melody, do
with it what you will -- and that's the most fun for me.

JC:     Are you planning to put out any singles between now and when the
album comes out?

LS:     No.  Our Sub Pop one just came out, and it's be March, April,
May -- three months.  So, I think we're just going to give everybody's
ears a little rest... *laughs* give them a break from us for a while,
and come with the onslaught.

JC:     So, what is everybody doing now?

LS:     Eve is in New York.  She's doing an exchange at Cooper Union.

JC:     Cooper Union?

LS:     Yeah.  It's the Cooper Union School of Arts & Sciences, or
something -- it's got a really good art program, and NSCAD [Nova Scotia
College of Art and Design] has an exchange program with them.  And
that's sort of why we're not playing much now.  And Jenny is at the art
college.  And Alyson is working and hanging out, and I'm at the art
college as well.

JC:     I guess the record's gotta be mixed -- are you going down to
Chicago for that?

LS:     Yes, as a matter of fact we are.  They're all actually down in
New York now.  I'm gonna fly to New York on Tuesday.  We're going to
drive to Chicago from there.  I think the mix of it right now is really
good -- just a really rough basic mix.  I don't know how much more we're
gonna do.  But we have a week in Chicago, so...

JC:     A week of twiddling knobs.

LS:     Yeah.

JC:     Do you think you might get out a bit?

LS:     Maybe we could walk around the block.  *laughs*

JC:     Are you going to make another video, before the album comes out?

LS:     Yeah we are, and we're trying to get Don McKellar to do it.

JC:     Oh really!

LS:     Mmm-hmm.  And he's a good person.  I haven't seen one of the
films he did, called *Blue*.

JC:     Yeah, I saw that.

LS:     Did you see that?

JC:     Yup.

LS:     What did you think of it?

JC:     Oh, I thought it was brilliant.

LS:     Yeah?

JC:     It was a perfect role for David Cronenberg.

LS:     Yeah.

JC:     I saw him in a movie where he really sucked, but...  Have you
ever seen *Nightbreed*?  Cronenberg as this knife-wielding psycho...

LS:     *laughs*

JC:     Anyway, anyway... nevermind...  He [McKellar] did *Blue*, and
he's got this new one coming out.

LS:     He's working on a bunch of different things write now.  He
co-wrote that Glenn Gould one.

JC:     Right, and he was in *Highway 61*.

LS:     And *Roadkill*.  Colin and I were in Toronto over Christmas
break, and met him, and he's really easy to talk to and has really good
ideas.

JC:     Did you seek him out, or just meet him someplace?

LS:     Well, Colin saw *Blue*, and I think Jenny saw it as well, and
Colin was like, "Oh my God, he's so brilliant," and I think other people
saw it too, and really like it.  So Colin called him, and said, "hey, I
have this band -- it's called jale, and we were thinking maybe..." and
he called back and said "Of course I know who jale are -- what do you
take me for, some kind of idiot?"

JC:     Really?  Wow.

LS:     So Colin corresponds with him...  We've just decided what our
first single's gonna be, so we're not really sure what the video's going
to be like right now.  He picked up on the art thing, because we have
all these art backgrounds, and have people we like, and he's right into
that.  I don't think we want to do anything that's, you know, generic:
la, la, la, lip-synching...  we'd like to do stuff without lots of
lip-synching.  Like, our last video, the thing that I liked about it so
much is, that nobody's really singing in it -- nobody's faking singing.

JC:     The best thing about that video was the super-8 stuff taken on
tour.

LS:     Mm-hmm.

JC:     Much as I'd like to say that my own appearance was...

LS:     *laughs*  "I was *brilliant*!"

JC:     I was brilliant for half a second.

LS:     *laughs*

JC:     I don't think that that was quite enough to tip the balance in
favour of the Cafe Ole footage...
        Still working toward June 15 for the album release date?

LS:     Yup.

JC:     How might the music on the album sound different from what
you've done before.

LS:     The songwriting maybe is not so different, but I think the way
we recorded it is different for us.  Previously we've done a lot of
mixing the vocals right into the mix.  And now, so far, and I think
we're going to keep this, the vocals are up front, but also really
naked.  There's not a lot of effects on it, which I really really like.
I think there was always a problem because we didn't want to have vocals
up front, mostly because, I think we had this idea that they would sound
really glossy, and, you know, very overproduced... and we kind of mixed
the vocals in...

JC:     Tried to avoid being Wilson Phillips or something...

LS:     *laughs*  yeah... We wanted something that was a bit more
raw-sounding or something like that.  I think we really got something
interesting because the vocals are pretty naked but they are more
upfront than they have been before.

JC:     That's kind of interesting...  I've heard a lot of Brad Wood
produced records, and there's like this trend like, he always seems to
mix female vocals up loud and mix male vocals down...

LS:     Oh, like Liz Phair is up loud.

JC:     Yeah!  And then Seam and Hum and Tar are all like, I don't know,
almost lost in this wave of guitars.

LS:     Yeah.  See, I don't know those, but I've heard Red Red Meat.
That's true.  I didn't really...  I wonder what's going on there.  Maybe
when I see him I'll say, "Listen, Brad, what's going on?  Is it just
'cause we're girls?"

JC:     *laughs*

LS:     It's interesting with the album, 'cause it really has a
consistent feel to it -- like, it really sounds like an album.  We all
came away feeling so good about it, just really excited.  And it's such
a nice feeling to come away and feel, "My God -- this is great...  I would
buy it!  I wouldn't even tape it from a friend -- I would buy the real
thing."

JC:     *laughs*  So you felt it actually together, cohesively...

LS:     Yep.

JC:     Not just, like, a bunch of songs.

LS:     Not just a bunch of random songs.  I think the songs are
different enough from each other to have an interesting mix, but at the
same time there's a real sound to it.

JC:     Just on the new Sub Pop single the two songs are vastly
different -- about as different as any two jale songs.

LS:     Yeah.

JC:     But there isn't this tendency like Eric's Trip to kind of murmur
on one song and go way over the top on another...

LS:     la la la la -- WAHHHH!!!

JC:     Different styles -- yours is a little more nuanced that way...
        Any other interesting things happening, or seen any weird press
on the band lately...

LS:     No, nothing weird.

JC:     Was it Melody Maker that did a little review of the Sub Pop
showcase in New York?  That was back in November.

LS:     Oh yes.  Yup.  Compared us to the Bangles...

JC:     *laughs*

LS:     "What's that other all-woman..."

JC:     It was a positive review, though.

LS:     Oh, it was very positive.  He did another Melody Maker thing,
actually -- last year's East Coast Music Awards.  I think he compared us
to the Bangles then too.

JC:     *laughs*

LS:     I don't know what this Bangles obsession is about...

JC:     It's kind of neat to see people working too hard for
comparisons.

LS:     Yeah.

JC:     There seems to be two extremes of like, totally sweet pop, when
it comes to all-female bands, or like, Bikini Kill or something -- riot
grrls...

LS:     Alyson and I were actually talking about that the other day, and
kind of saying, we're not complete garage band, or completely punk --
we're not riot grrls...  We're kind of walking a line that a lot of
other people haven't...

JC:     A new kind of art school band.  It's not Sonic Youth.  It's
something new and different.

LS:     And you can hum along!

JC:     *laughs*  That's right.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
James R. Covey         Out on the road today I saw a Sub Pop sticker on a Subaru
<jrcovey\!/ac.dal.ca>    A voice inside my head said yuppies smell teen spirit too
Department of English  I though I knew what love was, but I was blind
Dalhousie University   Those days are gone forever, whatever, nevermind...
Halifax, NS  B3H 3H5                                             - Rob Sheffield