By Angelina Skowronski
“Our first LP, Fool’s Gold, was thought of as upbeat, but in actuality the tone is much more melancholy,” says guitarist and producer Lewis Pesacov from his L.A. domain as he packs for the first of two European tours this year. “So for the second album, we wanted to pull those dark tones we tried to create in the first.”
The band—Pesacov, Luke Top (vocal, bass), Brad Caulkins (multi-instrumental), Salvador Placencia (percussion), and Garrett Ray (drums)—recorded Leave No Trace entirely live, in one room, tracking to an Otari MTR90 2" 24-track, completing the live tracking in a mere four days at Infrasonic Sound in Los Angeles. Lewis collaborated with recording engineer Eric Palmquist and mixer Noah Shain at Infrasonic to keep the album simple. “We wanted something physical, not just a bunch of zeros and ones, which is why we chose analog,” says Pesacov.
To keep the darker tones, the team liberally used EMT 140 stereo plate reverbs and AKG BX20 spring reverbs in conjunction with tape delays and vintage synthesizers. “We did this to create an ambient and fitting sonic landscape for the songs to live in,” continues Pesacov.
Pesacov and Caulkins played the same two guitars on the whole album. Pesacov played a 1978 Ibanez Professional 2680 Bob Weir signature series with a 1981 Boss CE-1 chorus pedal and an Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail reverb pedal, through his own ’90s re-issue Fender Deluxe Reverb amp modified at The Amphole repair shop in L.A. Caulkins played a late-’60s Gretsch Roc Jet through a Roland JC-120 Jazz Chorus amp. Each amp was miked with a Shure SM57 and a Beyerdynamic M160, and mic tracks were then blended. “I’m a big fan of simple guitar miking,” adds Pesacov.
Drums were treated in the same regard, with “nothing fancy,” according to Pesacov; miking remained the same for the album’s entirety, with the kick drum miked inside and out, tom, stereo overhead, and stereo room mics. The snare drum for the track “Leave No Trace” received some magic: The snare spot mic, a Shure SM57, was sent to EMT Stereo Plate reverb; in turn, the signal was then sent to a Roland Dimension D outboard stereo chorus effects unit to capture a lush snare sound. “In ‘Leave No Trace,’ you can hear that snare drum wash back and forth,” says Pesacov.
The vocals were recorded as overdub with a Telefunken 251 through a Manley Pultec EQP-1A and a Manley ELOP compressor. “The vocal effects really helped to create a lush mood,” explains Pesacov. “I used a 1973 Maestro Echoplex tape delay for a slap-back echo, as well as the EMT Stereo Reverb, both were also recorded onto the 2" tape machine at 15 ips.”
That same track took on other instruments that are non-traditional to the Fool’s Gold line-up; a 1963 Hammond A-100 organ was recorded in overdubbing sessions.
“We have spent the past two and a half years on tour and so much happens when we play together in the same room,” explains Pesacov. “Leave No Trace is a gesture to playing live. We feed off each other’s vibe and captured it on tape.”