Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Portraits of Past

Rex John Shelverton who played guitar and sang in Portraits of Past wrote a few words about releases of his highly influential band.


"To me the Portraits album (as well as many albums I’ve worked on) is a total time capsule and captures that era in a way that nothing else can really. It’s like an old photo or mix-tape x1000.
I think we always wanted to make the music as moving as possible whether that meant louder, faster, or more mysterious with things like reverb etc.
We were super inspired by a lot of the west coast stuff happening at the time like Heroin, Unwound and Drive Like Jehu but also by some of the “Power Violence” bands, who were more extreme. Towards the end of Portraits, when we tracked the LP, the Indie Rock stuff too, which was more melodic.
I remember how seriously we took the guitar sounds, and I borrowed some money for expensive Celestion Greenback speakers with the full intent to return them at the store when the recording was done. Of course I never got around to returning them.
I’ve been asked a bunch of times what chorus pedals we used, which is funny as there’s no effects on the guitars at all besides the reverb from the amps and room.
The band tuned down to C# which caused the intonation of the instruments to be quite off and, when both of the guitars were double tracked, created a cool natural stereo chorusing effect which sounds unique even now.
The only thing I’d change is the snare tuning/mic’ing, and I would’ve practiced my singing parts a lot more. I had never tried to sing some of my parts at practice, as we usually only set up one mic, and I was too shy to try out the singing with the whole band. I ended up having to just try my best in the studio which kind of captures a bit of the bold naiveté of a 20 year old making his first record."

2009 - Cypress Dust Witch EP

"For our EP recording in 2009, it was really a cool challenge to dive back into the Portraits universe, and we all took it super seriously.
These were all new songs which we recorded and mixed completely on our own so that we could control the entire process, keeping authenticity a priority. 
Even the guitar and amp I used to write and record were the same ones as used on the album back in ‘95.
As the songs came together we'd often check with each other "is this how we would've done it?" .
I feel like we all tapped into whatever it was that inspired us so long ago and there were still melodies and ideas waiting to come forth and be put into words and music. 
The thing is, even though the band broke up, and we all went on to travel the world etc, there's always been a connection with the five of us, so it was totally natural coming back to that place creatively. 
I'm really happy that people have accepted Cypress as an authentic and honest Portraits of Past record and not just a self indulgent or sentimental ego trip which can easily be the case when bands reform decades later. 

Thanks for the interest and appreciation."

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