Brian Lopez returns from his eclectic debut record Ultra with a more focused sense of songwriting and a direct, potent rock ‘n’ roll sound.
Lopez wrote Static Noise over more than two years, producing dozens of songs before choosing the best compositions, narrowing the album’s focus and capitalizing on his guitar and vocal talents.
“Listening to the last record and seeing how eclectic it was, I was trying to hone in on tighter arrangements and tighter songwriting and taking my time to make sure each song was like a fine cut gem. I feel like they’re potent,” Lopez says. “I knew it was going to be heavier, more electric guitars and louder drums. I wanted it to go in more of a rock ‘n’ roll direction, to walk that line a bit more.”
Lopez, whose voice recalls the atmospheric heights of Jeff Buckley and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, brings his entire past to bear on Static Noise. The classical guitar training, the psychedelic indie rock, the mambo and cumbia, they all come together in a uniquely compelling mix. Since Ultra, Lopez has added even more depth to his playing, collaborating with both Howe Gelb in Giant Giant Sand and KT Tunstall, skillfully navigating the disparate styles.
“It’s been a pretty crazy couple of years as far as being out on the road and collaborating with a lot of artists and kind of living in different worlds as far as the Howe Gelb circus versus the KT Tunstall pop world. They’re completely different and I think it’s telling how I can somehow disguise myself into each world and be accepted,” he says.
All those tours – the performances, the long hours traveling, the series of hotels and foreign lands – helped to shape the songs on Static Noise.
“Over the past couple years my life has been so much in the air, with traveling and different projects and just getting thrown back and forth and relationships can be in and out,” Lopez says. “It gets to be a lonely world in a sense. It’s very exciting, but also overwhelmingly lonely at times. Lyrically, it’s painfully obvious that I was maybe struggling more than I let on. The songs are my form of therapy in a way.”
The songs share a quality of solitude, of focusing inward even as the hectic world spins around you.
“That’s why I called it Static Noise, it’s like being in a room alone, but you’re not quite alone because that broken television is in there making that noise and keeping the room occupied with you. But at the same time there’s no depth to that,” Lopez says.
Lopez took his time on songwriting and arrangements, working on songs in small batches and only hitting the studio once everything was in place.
“I went into the studio cutting just three songs at a time and worked a lot in pre-production, making sure I got the arrangements just right, making sure I had the band I wanted together for each song. I looked at everything through a microscope this time around. I really focused on each song, making sure they were as tight or as loose as I wanted them to be,” he says.
Lopez and his hand-picked musicians recorded live to tape, eschewing technology wherever possible in favor of the sort of honest, organic sound that best showcases his songs.
Lopez recorded Static Noise at Waterworks Recording Studio in Tucson, co-producing with Jim Waters (Sonic Youth, The John Spencer Blues Explosion). Stuart Sikes (The White Stripes, Cat Power, Modest Mouse, Loretta Lynn, The Walkmen, Phosphorescent) mixed the record. Sean Slade (Radiohead, Pixies, Hole, Ben Folds, Morphine) provided arrangements throughout the album.
Static Noise will be available in September on Funzalo Records. First single “Persephone” is available for download everywhere.
Brian Lopez is making Tucson a new source for irresistible music. With his charming voice, great sense of humor and enough energy to do it all, Brian is giving a new name to world music – indie-world?
Indie Rock Review
Check out the video for “Persephone” – created and directed by Stephen Smith