Royal Wedding‘s Eric Boomhower, Colin Asquith and Andy Abrahamson were kind enough to answer some of my questions. They’re playing the Middle East Upstairs May 10. They have an excellent new EP out, Inhabitants. Check them out!
How’d you get into playing music?
Eric: When I was 14 years old my sister gave me our grandfather’s acoustic guitar after she decided to stop playing because she wanted to grow her finger nails long. Then my brother gave me some vinyl to listen to….mostly prog
rock and psychedelia.
Colin: Casio MT-210.
Andy: I had a metronome, a delay pedal and a stack of cassette decks. I used to make what I guess would be called noise tapes. That kept me busy for a good long while until a friend of mine got fed up with me and lent a guitar.
What would you recommend for a newbie trying to get into playing music?
Eric: Try to be unique. If you play guitar try to make up your own chords. Tune the strings any way you want. Andy does not use cymbals. Instead, he uses drum triggers and effects. It helps to give us a different dynamic. Think outside the box.
Colin: Casio MT-210.
How do you go about writing songs?
Eric: These days the 3 of us play and create the song from scratch together. No agenda for direction or style. Just allowing the unknown to become known.
Colin: Stream of consciousness first. Repetition second.
Andy: And we try not to talk much.
Can you think of any problems with song writing people usually don’t hear about?
Eric: Try your songs out on an audience to really capture the song’s essence. A live performance really helps define the song as far as arrangement and execution. If the song sounds great live then it will likely be a lot easier to record and turn people on.
Colin: All the songs that get written and never get played for anyone outside the band.
How’d you get your band together?
Eric: We all played together in various Boston bands. Andy and I were in The In Out, Ossiander and The Big Disappointments together. Colin and I were in The Arrangement and other projects. The chemistry is right.
Colin: We’d all played together in other bands over the years and we had an opportunity so we took it.
If someone were trying to get into starting a band, what advice would you give them?
Eric: Make sure you can laugh with your bandmates. You will likely spend a lot of time together.
Colin: Have fun.
What do you use for practice space?
Andy: It’s in my studio/electronics workshop – an industrial basement space in Dudley Square. It’s big enough to have it’s own ecosystem, the details of which are rather unnerving.
Any horror stories or funny things happen during practice?
Eric: Yes, sometimes the power gets tripped and goes out leaving us silent in mid-song. Since we are a loud band it is quite shocking to go silent so abruptly. The lights also go out at the same time so there’s that complete darkness too.
Is there anything that was a surprise to you about the experience of practicing for gigs?
Eric: Once you think you have the sound in order and are ready for the show you are doing yourself a disservice. You always have a challenge when playing clubs or parties when it comes to the varying sound issues that arise. The best thing is to try to shake things up at practice to prepare for the unknowns ahead of time.
Any practical advice for people who are starting to practice for gigs?
Colin: Nothing ever goes as planned.
What was your first live show–what was it like?
Colin: At Royal Wedding’s first show the sound guys cut us off three times for being “too loud.”
Andy: And I broke my drum heads. Second show too if I remember correctly. Did I mention that I’m not a drummer? It’s true. I’m not. I just play the drums.
Any horror stories or funny things happen up on stage?
Eric: I use a vocal effect that makes it hard for people to understand what I am saying into the mic when I speak. The audience ultimately gets involved with mimicking me or laughing due to the ridiculous attempt at communication. Andy sometimes wears a flesh colored t-shirt that makes him look creepy. Colin has really long hair.
Is there any advice you’d give to someone who hasn’t played out yet and is trying to get over stage fright or just the overwhelmingness of playing live?
Eric: Even now, after so many years, I get stage fright. I do not know how to curb that. Except to say once the music starts it goes away naturally. Enjoy the stage fright. It’s normal to feel anxiety when you are about to share
something so personal with an awaiting audience.
Colin: Nothing ever goes as planned. Be ready for that.
How do you record?
Andy: Everything’s recorded live. No overdubs or effects or anything at mixdown. We try to capture the playing and then not fuss with it.
Any advice for a newbie trying to get into recording his or her stuff, either professionally or as an amateur?
Eric: Keep a recorder handy when you play so you can go back to it and learn what you can improve upon performance-wise. Then you will have more of an insight as to how you can bring the recording to another level later. It doesn’t really matter to me if the recording is lo-fi. It just has to capture what the creator envisions. And excite the listener.
Colin: Try to be realistic.
Andy: And don’t fuss too much. Fussing has a tendency suck the life out of music while you’re focused on the fussing. Then you’re left with a big mess of fuss and no music.
Is there anything you experience when recording that you think would surprise a person who doesn’t know anything about the process?
Eric: It’s amazing how you can feel great about a performance as a band and then later listen back and think it’s sub-par. The opposite is true too. The process with the gear and such is much like a science project.
Colin: There are always surprises, even for the people recording. Playing a song sounds much different than listening to the recording of playing song.
Any bands you’d recommend that are from the Boston area?
Eric: Thalia Zedek Band, Thick Shakes, Headband, Fat Creeps, Ghost Box Orchestra, Neptune, Animal Hospital, Fortran etc…
Andy: Seductress has some really great recordings. They’re recent transplants from Florida as I understand it. I’m looking forward to catching them live. We played with Incredible Universe recently too and I thought they were amazing.
What are your impressions of the Boston scene as you’ve experienced it?
Eric: Royal Wedding tend to have an easy time playing with bands from all scenes and genres. We don’t necessarily fit into any clique and the scene welcomes that.
Colin: Small town. Amazing History. Always changing.
Could you recommend one album by some other artist?
Eric: At this moment Suburban Lawns comes to mind.
Colin: Grover Washington Jr. Live at the Bijou.