By: Elise Cleereman
As part of Minneapolis-based sextet, The Good Armada (TGA), keyboardist and bassist Tim Kosel has a leading role in both the compositions of their songs and the production of their first album. Learning from the likes of M83, Radiohead, Mute Math, and Incubus (their singer has been compared to Brandon Boyd), the band see no conflict in marrying electronics and rock. Tim had a perfect way of putting it: “I would describe our band as synthesized rock and roll. We are trying to experiment with synthesizers while keeping a structure that people are familiar with. There are edgy guitar riffs while the hooks are usually played by some effect on one of the many synths.” Given the horde of punk-rock/pop-rock cliché bands currently infesting the Twin Cities, TGA come as a lungful of fresh air.
Tim’s status as a production and engineering student at the Institute of Production and Recording not only helps with the recording process; the band are saving so much money by recording their first album at IPR that they’re able to invest far more in merchandise than circumstances would normally allow. “How is this album coming along?” I emailed. “It is nearly completed,” he replied. “We are to the stage of mastering and are sending it to Magneto mastering house. It took us a long time because, as we were recording, we were changing parts and writing parts for the song as it was being tracked. A lot of the stuff on the recorded versions was not initially a part of the song. Also, since we decided that we were going to do it ourselves we made a lot of mistakes and had to re-record a lot of parts that just did not turn out big enough on the recording.”
That they’ve been working on the album for about a year definitely testifies to the many re-recorded parts Kosel mentioned. I had him electronically run me through a typical day in TGA’s recording process: “I will prepare all the details the night before, so microphone choice, placement, instrument, amplifier (we use few different guitars and amplifiers). The following morning, I will arrive at the studio early to set up all the microphones and amplifiers and mess around with guitar tones. Whoever is tracking that day will show up and we will be ready to go. I usually have them do about 10-15 takes, half with one guitar/amp combo, half with another. This, I have found, makes the double tracks sound bigger. Also, I have the option of layering in more than just a double track if need be. We finish up and the player goes home and I will usually run through each take and jot down some notes for when I go back to edit.”
TGA have many things to look forward to in the future, starting with a December show in Aurora Illinois. I asked Kosel how he was feeling about TGA’s touring life. “I think that it will be a little shaky at first. We are all new to this whole thing and have never gone this far to play a show. While it is very exciting for all of us, we are kind of nervous as well because we are not going to have our base of fans out there with us. It will be a true test of all the personalities in the band as well, we are all good friends but never have we all been together for a whole weekend. I think that it will prove to be a good bonding experience for us all as well as giving us a taste of what it might be like to be out for more than a weekend.”
All of The Good Armada’s members are originally from the Twin Cities area. None have played much beyond the metro’s borders. If the December mini-tour goes well, I can foresee a developing fan base in the Midwest–their current goal. “Right now, I see us writing and developing our sound as a group. I feel that we are going to stay local for a long time while playing out-of-state shows maybe once a month without leaving the Midwest. I see us learning as we go. We are trying very hard to keep all the business inside the band and not bring in outside people beside our manager. I think that in the future we will be able to sustain our band without using our own money. I hope that more will come after that, but only time will tell.”
Wanting to work behind the scenes as a producer/engineer–a stretch from being in the spotlight as part of a band–came naturally to him. “I have always been interested also in how albums were made,” he writes. “I got into engineering because when I was in high school my band at the time went to record a 5 song EP. The production and engineering on it were very poor for the price we paid. I wanted to learn how to do it so that I could do a good job for aspiring musicians at a reasonable price. I never want to see someone charged that much money for something that crappy. I also enjoy trying new things and figuring out ways to get different sounds and tweak them to sound pleasing.”
Things are going great for TGA…and for Tim. “I feel that my future in the biz will be successful on a local scale,” he writes. “In playing around the Cities I am meeting a lot of artists and bands that are good and will be needing assistance in the future. I feel that I can make a lot of business contacts and if they like me they will spread the word to others that they meet playing out. This is how I am planning on getting my start. I will also be working in a small theater in North Minneapolis, to pay the bills. It is going to take a lot of hard work to get where I would like to be.”