Alter Echoes, the great new album from L.A-based trio Triptides (led by multi-instrumentalist Glenn Brigman, with drummer Brendan Peleo-Lazar and bassist/guitarist Stephen Burns) is a mix of sun-soaked, ’60s-sounding, psychedelic pop – think The Byrds and The Beatles – and far-out space rock.
It was recorded prior to the pandemic, in Hollywood’s Boulevard Recording studio, which was previously the legendary Producer’s Workshop, where Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan and, er, Liberace made, or mixed, records.
“Liberace’s piano is unfortunately no longer there,” says Brigman, speaking to Say It With Garage Flowers from L.A. “But I think some of the energy from those groups still lingers. Whether it rubbed off on us… well, you be the judge!”
How is it in L.A?
Glenn Brigman: It’s a very unique place and we love it for a lot of reasons. But one of the coolest parts is the amount of incredible music that has been made here over the years. We dig the history.
How has lockdown affected you as a band?
GB: We’ve all been affected one way or another. At this point we are just trying to make the most of our time off the road – we’re writing, recording and learning more about our craft.
I’ve started learning the Sarod [Indian stringed instrument], Brendan has been working on learning more piano and Stephen has been writing a series of musical suites about his cat, Jeffrey. We had to cancel last year’s SXSW appearances and a European tour planned for last September. Hopefully we will be back in Europe before the end of 2021 to make up for it.
Are you worried about the future of live music, post-Covid? What are your hopes and fears for the rest of the year and beyond?
GB: I’m trying not to think about it too much… we’re just taking it one day at a time right now and hoping for the best. I hope that our ability to be flexible and adapt to new situations will help us pull through any difficulties that await us in the coming year.
‘I’ve started learning the Sarod, Brendan has been working on learning more piano and Stephen has been writing a series of musical suites about his cat, Jeffrey’
How have you been coping with lockdown?
GB: We’ve been coping by working on every aspect of the music, apart from the live show. Taking care of each other and staying connected to our friends and family as best as we can.
Let’s talk about your new album, Alter Echoes. When did you make it?
GB: We recorded it in the fall of 2019; long before the word Covid was part of our lexicon.
It was recorded and mixed at Clay Blair’s Boulevard Recording studio in Hollywood. How was that? What were the set-up and the vibes like? How were the sessions?
GB: Clay is a great guy. We had a blast working with him at such a legendary studio. The set-up was fantastic – a beautiful live room that looks like it’s straight out of the ‘70s. There’s a comfortable control room and a little lounge area. Everything one could need to rock.
The vibes were very good. Brendan has known Clay for years, but they sort of reconnected when Brendan moved out to L.A, so it was sort of like working with an old friend. Also, the fact that Clay is from North Carolina and Stephen and I are from Georgia made us feel even more at home. The sessions were great – we had rehearsed the material beforehand, but it still had a very spontaneous vibe to it.
‘The studio set-up was fantastic – a beautiful live room that looks like it’s straight out of the ‘70s. There’s a comfortable control room and a little lounge area. Everything one could need to rock’
The studio was formerly Producer’s Workshop, where Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac and Steely Dan made, or mixed, records. Did any of that history rub off on you? Liberace also recorded in the studio. Is his piano still there?
GB: Liberace’s piano is unfortunately no longer there! I think some of the energy from those groups still lingers. Whether it rubbed off on us… well, you be the judge!
The new record definitely has a sun-soaked, psychedelic sound. What influenced it musically, or otherwise?
GB: There’s such a wide range of influences it can be hard to pin them all down – from Coltrane to Hawkwind. So many different groups. But I think being in L.A, working together as a band, touring together – it all influenced how the record came together. We knew each other’s strengths and made sure that we played to them.
The single, It Won’t Hurt You, is one of my favourite songs of the year so far. What can you tell me about it? It’s very Byrdsy. Where did it come from?
GB: I wrote that one in the summer of 2018. It sat around as a drum machine apartment demo for a year or so. When I presented it to the group it worked perfectly with the three-piece arrangement and we decided to record it.
Hand of Time is another of my favourite songs on the record. I think it has a slight Stonesy feel – a swagger, like Street Fighting Man, but crossed with English ’60s psychedelia. Is that a fair description?
GB: I can see that. I think Brendan was thinking about the stripped-down drum patterns from McCartney II. I was probably drawing on Hawkwind or Can. It was just one of those songs that came out of a jam. We were doing a sort of stream of consciousness demo night where we were recording everything to the Tascam 488 tape machine. Suddenly we just started playing it. Listening back afterwards we thought, well that’s going to have to be a song, isn’t it?
Was the spacey track Shining influenced by Pink Floyd? There’s a definite Dark Side of the Moon feel to it. I’m thinking Breathe…
GB: Of course! Shining is a bit of our love letter to our favorite Floyd moments. The lyrics are supposed to be from a disoriented perspective – another realm where things aren’t what they seem. There’s a line where I say, “Relax, you weren’t meant to live,” which was sort of a reference to Nightmare of Percussion, the first track on the second Strawberry Alarm Clock album, where the narrator says: “Don’t worry about dying – you were meant not to live.” I always thought that was really weird and I wanted to include some of that weirdness in the song.
Having A Laugh is one of the lighter songs on the album. It’s poppy and has a McCartney / Beatles feel. Would you agree?
GB: It is and it isn’t. I was trying to comment on how much terrible news people see and hear everyday (“If you really believed half the things they said/wouldn’t be any need to get out of bed”). And this was before the pandemic! At the same time, I was thinking how we need to start taking care of the earth, of each other before it’s too late.
‘We were going for a sort of A Hard Day’s Night meets João Gilberto thing. Something you could listen to on the beach while the sun is setting. The first evening wind after a warm, summer day’
Another lighter, poppier song is She Doesn’t Want To Know – it’s a kind of a bossa nova/ lounge/ Easy Listening tune. Laidback and quite ’60s…
GB: We were going for a sort of A Hard Day’s Night meets João Gilberto thing. Something you could listen to on the beach while the sun is setting. The first evening wind after a warm, summer day.
The last song, Now and Then, is very ’60s. It reminds me of The Zombies and also Cream’s I Feel Free. What can you tell me about it?
GB: For that tune we wanted to go all out ‘60s. We were already in the studio with Clay, who is a huge Beatles fan and an authority on their recording techniques [see video below].
Paired with Brendan, who is an authority on Ringo’s gear, in particular, we couldn’t help but do our own Help-inspired UK beat song. We actually meant to use a Hohner Pianet on the track, like The Night Before, but it was giving us issues that day, so we settled on the Wurlitzer 200 [electric piano].
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
GB: We have some tentative tour plans, but I don’t want to jinx anything. We’ve also got more music to release. Like I said, we’ve been recording quite a bit.
‘I still rock an iPod like it’s 2006’
What music – new and old – have you been enjoying recently? What’s been your lockdown soundtrack?
GB: We’ve all been listening to a ton of music over the lockdown – even more than usual perhaps. I’ve been digging a lot of UK folk recently: Fairport Convention, Michael Chapman, Bridget St John. And digging into some jazzier stuff: Horace Silver, Miles Davis and Gábor Szabó. I also went on a big Bee Gees kick after seeing that new documentary [The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart].
Finally, what’s your preferred way of listening to music – and why?
GB: Records. But driving around and listening to music is a close second. I still rock an iPod like it’s 2006.
Triptides’ Alter Echoes will be released on limited vinyl, and digital / streaming platforms on March 19, via Alive Naturalsound Records.