Sometimes it's guitar strings in toilets, sometimes it's serious tracking work and sometimes it's breaking down into an impromptu percussion jam on a steel I-bar.
Native Sound sits just off of Cherokee behind yellow steel doors emblazoned with a lit bomb. The studio itself is cozily packed with instruments and gear from wall to wall. Two blackboards chart out songs and who owes whom what. Squares of shag carpeting and egg-crate foam are scattershot across the walls to absorb sound. The warm lighting casts soft shadows on the dried roses and plastic flowers hung from the ceiling.
Sitting at the center of it all is David Beeman. Beeman works not just as the producer but as musician as well. Fueled by tacos from La Vallesana and Warsteiner beer, he and Pretty Little Empire pound out track after track late into the night. Manning the boards for recording sessions is a lot like being captain of a ship. The song is a boat out at sea. There are infinite directions possible and the crew of Pretty Little Empire works with its captain to find the way to excited satisfaction.
After many iterations of tracking and re-tracking for a song titled "Out of Control," one of the band members said, "I just went from totally hating this song to being in love with it." Oh, the places a song can go.
When any group of people are together for extended periods of time, the social decorum eventually breaks down into absurdity. During a smoke break, a silly percussive song formed by tapping on a steel I-bar and the top of a microwave. With lyrics like "My grandma died when she was 5, on the picket line," that one is probably not going to make the record.
Pretty Little Empire will continue recording throughout the summer. Next Saturday, Cinco de Mayo, they will be playing the I Went to a Show anniversary party with Scarlet Tanager and Thankful Tree. Most of the proceeds of the show will go towards the recording of the new album that should be out by the end of the year. Doors are at 8:30 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. Bring your grandma.
All photos by Jamie Dee.