November 14, 2006
When you listen to Still Point of Turning, the debut album from Philadelphia's Relay, you'll be transported quite quickly into a blissful world of kaleidoscopic sounds and surprisingly hard and driving melodies. Led by studio wizard Jeff Zeigler, one listen to their debut proves that Zeigler's decision to make Relay into a fully-functional rock band was a wise one. Sure, you might be reminded of classic shoegazing bands of yore, but Relay is a modern band, making its own sound, and making a racket that is quite enjoyable. Alongside bands like Mahogany, Relay is forming their own blissful rock scene. Here, Zeigler talks a little bit about Relay, his decision to make it a fully functional band, and the band's recording style
What sparked your decision to transform Relay from a bedroom project to a full band?
I had this desire…I feel you can kind of hit a wall in doing that. You can only go so far when it comes to bringing in people to perform with you, if you don't have a real band. Also, it's nice to hear your stuff recreated in a way that's a little more visceral, immediate. Plus, it just evolved from meeting people.
So you wanted to have a band before you had your record?
Yeah, they kind of go hand in hand, you know? (Laughs)
Well, what I mean is I know a lot of bedroom-type projects fall into a trap, where someone makes a record by themselves, yet they don't have a band, and when it comes later, it can be rather problematic.
Yeah, I see your point. Yeah, that's definitely true. With Relay, it kind of evolved at the same time, with recording and learning the songs as they were recorded.
Something else I noticed is that the record has a very spontaneous vibe. When you recorded it, did you record it live?
It's really all over the map. Some of it was done pretty much live, with guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards. Some of them were recorded with drums and bass parts tracked on. Some of it was just totally from the ground up, built in parts, while some were done with the full band. It's just a contrast, song by song. Even if you can't notice the songs were done in different ways, offhand I think it has a nice flow throughout.
That's something I noticed: the record has a very seamless quality to it, and it sounds really live and electric.
I think a lot of that is thanks to our drummer. The way he plays, it comes off really well on tape, and I like it.
When you started Relay, between its inception and its debut, did it evolve greatly as the new members came in?
It's funny. I think it did initially, because it was me, then our drummer, and then the whole band, and from there we really jelled. Now, I think it goes back and forth, whereas when we first had a full band, I felt like we had to get everybody completely involved in that sense. Sometimes it would be hard to juggle. It doesn't always work. I think we've all fallen into a comfortable zone. I still sometimes worry that some of the material they haven't figured out, but other times, it's all written together. It goes back and forth.
Did you happen to perform any of the material live before you recorded it?
Um, yeah, probably about half of it, I'd say.
I've always picked up on that. When a band has a recording that sounds really crisp and fresh, I often wonder if they've intentionally spent time on it live before recording. It adds a different spark to a song.
Yeah, that's definitely true. I think live, we strip it down. Our recordings have lots of layers, but live, it's stripped. But I think it's often the lesser elements that are sacrificed. That comes from a mindset on a how a song should sound that you get from playing it live. Yeah, a lot of the material was worked out live beforehand, and then recorded.
So do you have any other projects that you're working on?
Actually, yeah. The girl in the band, Racquel, we're in another band as well. It's still kind of a work in process, but it's a little more electronic, a little more bouncy. It's a bit more Broadcast in nature. I tend to do a lot of recording, too, and that takes a lot of my creative energy and my time. Also, just some solo stuff on the side, too. There's a ton going on here in Philly, and all of the bands are really supportive of each other, and there's a good community of people here.
So what's the plan for Relay?
We've got CMJ coming up soon, and we've got some tour dates coming up. We're going to try and tour a lot, up to next year. We're wanting to really get ourselves out there before we start working on our next record.
Relay's debut album Still Point of Turning, is available now on Bubble Core