Early collaborations between drummer Tim Alexander (Primus, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) and guitarist Luis Carlos Maldonado (Pat Monahan, Glenn Hughes, Anna Nalick) have resulted in a project known as Into the Presence. The self-titled debut album, scheduled for an April 28th release, is comprised of music defined by its honesty and clarity. The band opened for Puscifer on April 4th and has embarked on a US tour with shows all along the east coast. Recently, I was given the opportunity to do a Q&A with Tim and Luis, who took the time to answer a few of my questions.
Tim, how did you and Luis meet?
Tim: Luis and I met in 1995 at a club in San Rafael. We became friends and we started working on music together.
You decided to record this album on analog/tape while many other artists have been pushing digital. How was that decided upon? Did the analog recording process present any difficulties that you would not find in digital?
Tim: It started with the Fata Morgana record I did. I wasn’t happy with the final mix and decided to record it like some of my favorite records, using tape. After purchasing the gear and finishing the record, and having Luis play on it, I said we should do a record of the music that we have sitting around. Thus began Into the Presence officially. We had plenty of difficulties. Old analog gear is very temperamental and we would lose channels and lose takes that were there a minute ago and then disappear. Even at the end, the analog master tape had a sticky spot and erased a tiny section of one of the songs. We had it mastered at that point. This was during the digital transfers for safety. So there are plenty of things that go wrong.
Luis: The differences in the two mediums are so polar opposite. Recording on Analog Tape just means you have to commit to playing an absolute part and giving a solid performance. It’s a very honest way of documentation. In Digital, there are so many short cuts to "creating" a performance that many times it cannot be the truest form of an artist's abilities. In digital you can "tune" the vocals to be in pitch, nudge drum beats to be on time, and a whole bag of tricks like cutting and pasting to create a "simulated" performance. In the analog tape realm you can't fake it.
The analog/tape recording seems to offer a more honest and organic sound to the music with a hint of nostalgia. Was this intentional? Also, what types of music helped influence and shape the direction of Into the Presence?
Tim: The albums we love are all done on analog, like Queen and Led Zeppelin. Tape is a physical material and collects the true sound eaves produced by our instruments. Digital formats duplicate sound into numbers and then back to electrical pulses again. Analog gear uses only the sounds that were produced. There is nothing like it. That’s why it’s superior.
Luis: You’re right, it’s very honest. It was totally intentional that we used tape. We both love the sound and dimension of the analog realm. As Tim stated we love most of the music that was recorded in that fashion, and most of it comes from that era of the 70's. It’s not that we are nostalgic; in fact, we just simply love the material regardless of what year it was. Quality has no expiration date. The greatest material I feel is timeless.
By turning to analog, does it help put more focus on the live performances?
Tim: It’s all about the performance. We play every note from beginning to end.
Are live performances the best method to experience Into the Presence?
Tim: Recording is a different experience than live, but both ways are fun for us.
Luis: We love creating and we love to perform what we create.
Although the album was recorded on analog, you are planning to release this digitally. Will there be a physical release? Will we see a CD or vinyl release?
Tim: Yes, there will be a limited CD release. CD sales have dropped 50% so the label doesn’t want to invest in a pile of CDs that won’t sell. We will have it on iTunes for download and vinyl will be available for the real analog sound. Our record was mastered from the 1/2-inch tapes and cut straight to a vinyl master. So those who get this vinyl will have a true analog recording.
Luis: The verdict is in. People are not buying CDs as much and the proof is there for ALL to see. A large percentage of CD sales have dropped significantly. I, like many people, I download of iTunes or other pay sites if it’s digital. But to be very honest I will always prefer vinyl. It’s a format that many people are going back to and are discovering. I mean, we were at Urban Outfitters the other day and they are selling turntables and vinyl from artists like Bloc Party, Radiohead, and other modern artists of today. Young people by the numbers are buying these records. So it’s not for the nostalgic or "old school" music fans. It’s here now!
Is the initial digital release a way to test the waters?
Tim: The digital world is a testing ground for the release. At this point it’s all about letting people know about the band.
What are the plans for the album packaging?
Tim: We will have a digi pak for the CD. We managed to fit the songs on one disc for vinyl. The artwork is nice, we like it.
Was there anything else that may have interfered with the recording of the album?
Tim: We have had plenty of ghost participation on the record and in the studio. We had a refrigerator with drinks in it and there would be one bottle of water or coke that would freeze, while the others were the correct temperature inside the refrigerator. We think they like Coca Cola.
Luis: I’m not sure they want us to speak of them. If you get a vinyl copy of our record, you might hear them whisper messages, but only if you play the record backwards… he he he!
Tim, you played in A Perfect Circle with Maynard James Keenan and still work closely with him, as a drummer for Puscifer and now as the opener for the April 4th Puscifer show. How supportive has he been with Into the Presence and your other side projects?
Tim: He is very supportive. He sells the Fata Morgana disc on his site (http://store.puscifer.com/) And he let Into the Presence open the first LA show. He knows what it is like when a band is first starting out.
Luis: You were a session player who has played with Pat Monahan, Anna Nalick and Glenn Hughes among others. How does it feel to come into your own and work on music that you personally wrote and created?
Luis: It is a wonderful feeling and at the same time it makes me a bit nervous. When I played for an artist, all I had to do was show up and perform and sometimes collaborate if allowed. With Into the Presence, Tim and I are making every decision from what type of font we are going to use on the CD, to food backstage, to tour support, airline tickets, who will play the live shows with us, and it goes on and on...So it’s a massive thing to take on, but it is very, very gratifying.
How was the collaborative process with Tim?
Luis: Fortunately, we both share many of the same goals and ideals in music so the process was very focused and open. We had a great time creating and trying new things. It was great experience for us both. We had no time or creative limitations. We would play records before writing or recording for inspiration and do so until the vampire hours of the night or till the sun came up.
There are a few other collaborators and contributors to this project, Ana and Paz Lenchantin. Paz played along with Tim in A Perfect Circle. How did they become involved in the project and will we see more of them in future collaborations?
Tim: I called Paz and asked if she could play some bass for us and she was into doing it. We wanted an outside approach to some of the tunes and I have worked with her many times, she is great. Ana, her sister, came later when we decided to add some cello to some of the tracks. They are family to us and they did a fantastic job!
Will there be another Into the Presence release in the future?
Tim: Oh Yes!
Luis: Very much so....
I discovered this band via Twitter, first from Maynard who tweeted about Tim updating throughout the Puscifer shows, then through Tim’s tweet about Into the Presence. I then connected to the band via Facebook, myspace and other sites. How important do you feel social networking is to spreading the word about this band and the new album?
Tim: I think I may have been the first to Twitter while performing onstage with Puscifer. In this day and age, the internet is the fastest and broadest way to get to people. I think social networking, in conjunction with regular media outlets makes it very powerful. The only issue is that it is so vast that there is so much music being pushed around that it has become saturated. If you know where to look, you might be able to find great stuff. I’m still looking around.
Social networking does seem rather successful for this band so far. Do you plan to keep the advertising through word of mouth and social networking, or are you hoping to have it picked up by the mainstream media?
Tim: Well, there is nothing like word of mouth. Mainstream media serves a purpose as well. For us, we would love to have lots of followers and be able to play the world. It does cost a bunch to make records and tour. Hopefully the album will supply us with the means to be able to do that.
Any last thoughts?
Tim: Thank you for the great questions. I think the recording process is extremely important and it affects the way a record sounds. For those who don’t want to sound like everything else, I think you need to pay serious attention to how your record is made and model those who have made great records.
Luis: I agree. In the creative process, I would highly recommend pushing past your limitations. Stay inspired.Tim and Luis are currently on tour with Into the Presence with shows on the East Coast throughout April. Visit http://www.myspace.com/intothepresence for tour dates and more information. Their debut album will be available April 28th on iTunes.