David Castell on Recording with Blue October, Famous Drummers, and DFW's Finest
David Castell (R) with The Band Hell, Texas.
We caught up with producer David Castell here a couple years ago, but he's been up to an awful lot since then.
Castell has produced, mixed, mastered and otherwise had his hands in local music dating all the way back to the early '90s, and he shows no sign of slowing...or aging really, for that matter. David Castell was a force behind DFW records from Course of Empire, Deep Blue Something, Edie Brickell, Burden Brothers, Bowling for Soup, Paul Slavens, Smile Smile, South FM, the Feds, Zac Maloy of The Nixons, The Electromagnetics and many more.
I hear, among other things, you've been in the studio with Spot again! Spot, from the '90s. That Spot?
I was a huge fan of Spot back in the day so I was so excited when Chad and Reggie Reuffer and Davis Brickston asked me to record and produce their new release Splatter, Splash.
Wow. Spot is back again with a new EP.
These guys are so talented and I am so proud of this little EP. I hope I did the songs justice. All four tracks on Splatter Splash are awesome but there's a song called "So Happy" that I can't stop listening to - incredible lyrics and melody. The EP is already on Spotify and iTunes. Bass master Dave Prez recently joined the band and there's going to be an official CD release party at Lola's in Ft. Worth June 29th.
Aren't you also working with some of the gang from Buck Jones?
Back in the mid-'90s, around the same time Spot released their hit, "Moon, June Spoon", I was producing Buck Jones' "Shimmer". I still think that is a great record filled with wonderful songs and I was really disappointed it didn't get more traction. When Buck Jones disbanded, Gabby and Burette moved to Vermont and started The Cush. Ten years and 2 critically acclaimed records later, I get to help The Cush with their 3rd release. I oversaw the recording of Todd Harwell (Doosu) on drums and will be mixing and mastering. The Douglases are cutting the rest of the parts at their place. The songs are incredible and the tracks they're sending me sound big It's going to be another great record. We'll be wrapping up this summer.
Since last we spoke, you've gotten married. Has life changed much as a result?
I met my wife, Brynna, in San Antonio while I was producing Blowing Trees for Glassnote Records. So you could say music brought us together. We had a long distance relationship for over two years and shared a lot of playlists. It's great getting to know someone through the music they love. She's a big Toadies fan and when the band asked me to produce "No Deliverance" she was impressed - thanks guys! It's so amazing to have a partner and best friend who has great taste and is a music fan. We went to a wedding in Japan last fall, and saw amazing and inspirationl things, but one of the most memorable experiences we both had was watching my cousin, Ayumu tear it up on bass with his punk band in a tiny little club in Tokyo! We had no idea what they were singing about but it didn't matter - the energy of a pounding rock beat translates in any language. So yeah, I am definitely a happily married man!
What have you been up to in the studio recently? I saw pics you posted of a string session.
I just finished four and a half months of recording and mixing with Blue October. The sessions covered a lot of ground writing and recording in Nashville, San Marcos and Austin. The string pics are from The Firestation in San Marcos - great room and great people down there. Blue's multi-instrumentalist, Ryan Delahoussaye and I literally built up an entire orchestra one string part at a time.We arranged multiple chairs around the mics and Ryan layered all the violin and viola parts by sitting in a different chair for each part.
Recording a string section sounds meticulous..and patience-trying!
It. Took. Forever. But it sounded beautiful! Steve Bernal formerly of Grand Street Cryers played cello. Kevin Butler of Test Tube Audio helped me on the engineering side. Tim Palmer worked his usual magic covering most of the mixing duties at '62 Studios . The album sounds amazing if I do say so myself. the new LP is called "Sway". Comes out August 20.
Lets geek out for a second. New studio toys?
Every time I turn around someone's coming out with a new piece of gear or groundbreaking plugin! Without getting too technical, the analog emulation plugins [software versions of vintage equipment] have come so far in the last few years that I opened an all digital online mixing and mastering service. There is a lot of on-line mastering available these days but there aren't many affordable options with engineers who have actually worked on hit records. With the advent of this new technology, I felt I could offer a great service at an affordablet price. Derek Taylor has partnered with me in bringing this service to the masses. It's been great mixing and mastering so many different types of projects from all over the US and Canada.
All over North America? Anything quirky or exotic?
I'll be mastering a Civil War period ensemble one day and a Canadian punk band the next day. I started mastering some Hawaiian reggae R&B pop for a couple of Hawaiian producers. One of the bands is Neisian N.I.N.E. Smooth stacked vocals, big fat bass - it's so fun to work on!