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A&E

With album in hand, Vegas’ Avalon Landing prepares for its next phase

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Avalon Landing celebrates its CD release with a gig at Beauty Bar on November 16.
Maegan Gindi
Chris Bitonti

I read that you moved 1,600 pounds of recording equipment here from Brooklyn to create new album Reside. True?

Singer/pianist Josh Rabenold: Bryan Russell is the only producer I’ve ever worked with, and I knew I wanted him to be involved in the record in some way, but I didn’t think that we could afford to go to Brooklyn. So I told him, “We’d love to fly you out here,” kind of jokingly. And he was like, “Yeah, I could do that.” So instead of spending money in a studio, we invested money in getting him here and bringing his equipment, pretty much his portable studio, which he’s done with other bands, too. He has a 1,600-pound setup, and we flew it here, and he showed up and we started.

And that was easier and more affordable than just renting a studio with an engineer and having Bryan produce there?

Guitarist/singer Mike Vargovich: It was a conscious choice to record the record in the house where we recorded it—a house most of us lived in when we moved down from Buffalo [New York]. We wrote all the songs there; we rehearsed them there. Sometimes you go into a recording studio, and it’s really nice really fancy, and the guy sits behind the console and just pushes the button and a lot of times the product that comes out of it is crappy, but not the good kind of crappy. Not the home recording, cool vibe.

How long did it take to record the album?

JR: Five to seven days of pre-production last October, we just listened to the songs, the demos we’d made, and Bryan was like, “Okay, this is what I think could be better. This is what I really like.” And then we had a big chunk of time before we actually recorded—we actually started the recording process in January, and that lasted about two months..

MV: It wasn’t like, “Okay, do your parts and then leave.” We really talked about the stuff, and the songs really evolved. There are choruses on the demos that don’t exist on the final versions of the songs. Not because Bryan came in with a heavy hand and said, “Do it like this,” but because he said, “That chorus is [just] okay.”

JR: “About Face” is a perfect example of that. He loved the pre-chorus and said, “This is moving somewhere, and I feel like when we get to the chorus I don’t feel like that feeling is there How can we improve that?” And we sat in a room—that was one of the last things we did in pre-production as he was walking out the door.

MV: He had his bag on his shoulder going to the airport, and we’re coming up with a new chorus. He was like, “That was cool; explore that.” And then he went to the airport (laughs).

The band that we were when we started the record versus the band that we are now are two completely different things, as far as how we evolved. I think you should change during that process—I think there should be growth—and that’s exactly what happened with us.

You guys also lost a band member recently ...

MV: Our drummer he left the band in August.

JR: It was kind of a mess, because we were getting ready to release this and start to promote our first single and tour in October, so had to scramble to find a drummer. We have a new guy—his name is John Lloyd and he’s great. It’s worked out nicely.

What’s the mood heading into Saturday’s album release show?

JR: We’re excited. For a long time, we were just kind of stuck playing a certain set of material, just for lack of practice time and getting everyone in the room to rehearse new stuff, and we finally had a little bit of time to start working on that. Moving forward after the show we’re really going to hone in on that and perfect some brand new things.

MV: We’ve been a band now for two years here, and we’ve just had our old release called Demos, Dead Ends & Do Overs, which is just a collection of exactly what the title implies. We’ve never really been able to say, “We’re a band. Here’s our album.” So this feels like, finally, we have an album that we’re all proud of, that we all worked on, that we all wrote, and we have a new drummer. It just feels like now we’re on a track.

JR: And the reaction can just be ... whatever the reaction is.

Has the Vegas scene been supportive, or after all this time do you still feel like outsiders to some extent?

MV: It’s been a little bit of both, honestly. The people that we met when we first moved down here really made it possible for the band to even exist. The first people I met were the Neon Reverb guys—Thirry [Harlin], James [Woodbridge] and Jason [Aragon]—and they really invited me into the scene and made me realize this would be a really great place to form the band we had always talked about. [But] I think, perhaps even to this day, there is a little bit of feeling like the new kid in school. It can be kind of cliquey amongst the bands—sometimes it’s a little bit difficult to fit yourself in—but at the same time we kind of really like that.

JR: Its chip-on-the-shoulder mentality.

You aren’t playing a style that’s typical for the scene here.

MV: I like that. One of the reasons I wanted to form the band out here was because, while the bands out here were great and made great music, we were doing something different. But I knew there would be a little bit of push back, because we played pop-rock songs and there is a stigma put on that.

JR: I feel like with some people there’s way more of a separation than I expected. Yeah, we play pop-rock, but it’s not very different. I mean, we’re not an indie band, I guess, but I don’t think we’re that different from lot of the bands that play down here. Sometimes I feel like people think we’re some really soft, really cheesy pop band, and it’s strange to me. Some of the songs on the album are heavier, bigger and they treat it like it’s a ballad. Maybe that’s because they’ve heard stuff of ours before that was ballad-y and they’re holding on to that, but there’s more of a discrepancy than I expected.

Avalon Landing CD Release Show With the All-Togethers, James & Tsvet. November 16, 10 p.m., free. Beauty Bar, 598-3757.

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