The new album was co-produced by the band and Dave Simon-Baker (ALO, Eric Martin), who is Bluhm’s partner at Mission Bells Studio in San Francisco, Ca.
The Mother Hips: Breathing Differently
“I was very conscious of keeping it balanced so it wasn’t just me steering things but Greg, John and Paul, too. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t producing it because it didn’t seem appropriate. The way the Hips have always made records is not that way,” says Bluhm. “That being said it was done in my studio with a lot of my equipment, so it was like the band came over and made dinner in my kitchen. The things Dave and I have learned about that room and that equipment was useful in getting the record to sound the way it does. And having the studio as a resource makes it possible to record almost constantly.”
“We keep getting better at playing our instruments, and having a good engineer in the studio means we can capture good tones happening in a reasonable amount of time so we can actually capture those valuable live moments,” continues Bluhm. “In the studio, it’s always a race between getting the best possible tone you can while the clock of patience is running down on the band. The longer it takes the bigger the chance the band will be past the peak for their potential that day. A lot of the time the band is ready hours before the engineer is, and then you get a lackluster performance, even if it’s correct. If you have the right formula between tone and band readiness then it’s genius. And we do now, and I’m not sure we ever did in the past.”
“Pacific Dust” and other sections of the new album suggest the band has found a way to tap into the earlier, free-form jamming, drug-fueled Hips and pour that vibe into more structured containers.
“I think ‘Cheer Up Champ’ [Pacific Dust‘s closer] is maybe our longest studio recording yet; I think it even beats ‘Turtle Bones’ [a bent fan favorite off their 1993 debut, Back To The Grotto] as the longest song on a Mother Hips album. Live, we’re not afraid of playing a song for 22-minutes, but we only do it if it’s going somewhere. It’s actually something we want to do more in the studio, take that ‘Pacific Dust’ model and expand on it,” says Loiacono. “Conversely though, Tim and I have some more rootsy songs coming up, and we were thinking, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to do another Later Days style album?’ But there’s also the thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to do a whole Pac Dust type session where we just take songs from inside the jams, Queens of the Stone Age style?’ Guess what? Let’s do both.”
Pacific Dust captures a fair amount of the band member’s personalities, and this band overflows with personality, both individually and collectively. The result is an album that doesn’t scrimp on individual nuance and charm, so the collective feel is stronger than ever, creating a sound that’s both dense and fluid – very full rock ‘n’ roll made by the entire group.
“I do feel that’s true, absolutely, especially given that some of these songs were written from improvising, which makes it even more obvious this is a band playing not just a song, but bringing their personalities together,” observes Bluhm. “Paul, as a bass player, is just so involved with the melodic components of each song, just building these counter-melodies and complexities. So much is going on down there in his world you could never take it all in with a single listen.”