21 Oct Newly Discovered Music At Cincinnati’s Ultrasuede
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Afghan Whigs. I think that I’ve mentioned them at least once, each day that I’ve been on air for the WNKU member drive. As a fan, I’ve always wanted to tour the place their bass player, John Curley calls his day job, Ultrasuede Studios. Once I got to Cincinnati, I reached out to him and asked if I could have a tour and he kindly obliged. Little did I know one brief tour would lead to the discovery of two new bands!
Upon arriving, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I had arrived at the wrong address. This couldn’t really be the door to where some of my favorite records over the last decade + were recorded, could it? I was reminded of the old adage about not judging a book by its cover. In this case the unassuming storefront probably keeps looky-loos (like me) from popping in, unannounced. It was so unassuming I actually went next door to QCA, first. I asked the smiling lady behind the desk if I was in the right place and she assured me, Ultrasuede was next door and went on to tell me that the studio would be featured in an upcoming movie called Surviving Compton
I met John at the door and he welcomed me into the studio introducing me to his friend Curt Kiser who was in to do some over-dubbing on the new Carriers record. While Curley was unspooling and plugging in miles of chords and Curt was tuning his guitar, I meandered around the studio taking some pictures and video, finding cool art and some kitsch in every corner. I’d seen the inside of the studio hundreds of times over the years through the lenses of others, but the vibe of the place simply has to be experienced in person.
Once everything was properly plugged in, John took a seat behind the mixing board and I watched as Curt sound-checked and tweaked at the 12-string in his hand. John explained the over-dubbing process and which instruments made up the multitude of tracks in front of him. Sometimes it would take three or four passes over a segment of a song before they’d move on, wincing at each other when they heard something that went utterly undetectable by my ear, re-tuning after each re-start. You may recognize Curt’s name from his time in Pomegranates or Enlou, before that. Keep an eye on these guys, they have a really cool sound. The new Carriers album won’t be out for a while, but in the meantime, you can catch their next live show at MOTR on November 17th with the Grand Rapids band The Soil and The Sun.
As the session was winding down, I took another lap around the studio, making sure I’d laid my eyes over every inch of it, tempted to bend down and run my fingers through the red, shag carpet. I explained that I was back home to help out through the fall member drive and both John and Curt discussed their appreciation for the local coverage and variety on WNKU.
John kindly slipped me a copy of the new Plastic Ants record Imperial Phase and I’m totally digging it! This album sounds like what 70’s AM radio would sound like in Twin Peaks. It’s pop excellence with some serious underlying darkness. And it features one of my all-time favorite things, an overlapping segues from one song to the next between the songs “Closer” and “Mystery Chord.” You’ve gotta check them out, too!
I managed to cross a big item off my Afghan Whigs fandom “bucket list” and discover new music! Isn’t that what WNKU is all about? I’ve truly enjoyed my time at the station and I want to thank everyone who helped pack so much adventure into my nine day visit to Cincinnati!
Barb Abney is our guest this week, as she has returned to her hometown of Cincinnati to participate in WNKU’s Fall Membership Drive. Her history in noncommercial and commercial radio in Cincinnati and beyond goes back 22 years, including time on the mic at 97X/WOXY as well as nine years at Minnesota Public Radio’s station, The Current.