BY: ANGELA RATZLAFF
The blues-gospel, post punk group of Southern Californians, the Cold War Kids, hit the recording studio earlier this year, and they brought something new to the sound board – electro pop. “This record was the first time that we kind of got to stray a little more from the question of ‘does it sound like us?’ and ‘what is essential to what our band sounds like and how can we kind of stretch that out a little bit,’” Cold War Kids vocalist Nathan Willett said about the recording process.
Their new album “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” is set to be released on April 2. Willett said that fans can expect the same vivacious, raw energy sound that was established in the first few Cold War Kids EPs.
Their signature sound hits the deep roots of Americana music and classic African influences, like soul, funk and gospel.
“There’s power in all of those styles of music and finding a way to make it our own thing, and to really embrace the power in those styles and to find originality,” Willett said.
When the word ‘electro’ comes up, however, American roots devotees may question the decisions to add more keyboards and high-tech sounds. Even though fans may think that ‘electro’ doesn’t fit the original Cold War Kids sound, the band has recorded songs that feature electronic drumbeats and keys, like “Relief” and “Sensitive Kid.”
The band, which consists of Willett, drummer Matt Aveiro, bassist Matt Maust and guitarist Dann Gallucci, keeps the integrity of music’s basic roots while adding a modern flair. They originally formed in Fullerton during 2004, and have since relocated to Long Beach and Los Angeles, respectively.
For the new record, Willett said that the group recorded in their personal studio, Port O’Call which was a first for the So Cal boys. Not to be confused with the San Pedro seaside village shopping area, Port O’Call served as the Cold War Kids’ rehearsal space for years before it was turned into a recording studio.
“We just have never quite felt comfortable where we should or could make a record there until now,” Willet said. “So, it’s really new and exciting for that reason.”
That sense of ownership gave the band more room to experiment, Willett said. The constrictions of larger, more established studios, which the group used for their previous records, were left behind for a self-managed space.
The new studio was just one new introduction to their recording process. For the first time, they recorded with their new guitarist Gallucci, who has worked with other bands including alternative indies Modest Mouse and punk rockers Murder City Devils. Gallucci was the Cold War Kids’ live engineer for the past few years before picking up the guitar a year ago after former guitarist Jonathon Russell quit the group.
Working with Gallucci as an engineer and guitarist made for a new environment for the group, having worked with Russell since the beginning of the Cold War Kids, Willett said.
The group also introduced a new producer, Lars Stalfors, who previously worked with acts like Matt and Kim as well as The Mars Volta. Instead of returning to “Mine is Yours” producer Jacquire King, Willett said the group was itching for a fresh sound.
“It’s the first time we were working with a producer, [Stalfors], and engineer, [Gallucci], who are very much our age and kind of on our same level of taste,” Willett said. “It’s really different than kind of working with more older and established producers … It’s kind of cool to have some fresh young blood in there.”
Even though the group relocated to Los Angeles, they still keep their ties to Long Beach, having had recorded multiple EPs, including “Behave Yourself,” in the area with local producer Matt Wingall.
“We have a lot of ties to Long Beach and a lot of friends there, so we go back,” Willett said. “Having lived there a long time and spending so much time between Long Beach and San Pedro, there are a lot of things about Long Beach that inspire our music.”
The group will set out for an American and European tour this spring. They will venture back to California in May when they play the San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom on May 23 and the Los Angeles’ Fonda Theatre on May 24