Back Talk: Aron Magner


In this photo of the Disco Biscuits, Magner is seated in the foreground.

Born on the jam-band circuit, the Philadelphia area–based Disco Biscuits have been around since 1995 and have recorded 13 albums. I talked to Aron Magner, the group''s keyboardist, as they were early in the process of recording their next album, which doesn''t yet have a scheduled release date.

How would you describe the band musically? Planet Anthem, which you released last March, is pretty eclectic. It''s got a lot of rock influence, but also a lot of electronic stuff and various other styles.
We''re all influenced by a lot of different types of music. I think our collective musical palette is very diverse. By being in what''s technically a jam band, it kind of gives you that flexibility to play in whatever style and whatever genre you want, which is kind of fun, even to the point that there''s a “side project” that the Disco Biscuits have that consists of all members of the band called The Perfume, where we actually take our songs, our original songs, then cover them in the style of another musician or another band.

So you''re in the studio now and you''re working on a new album?
Yes, today is day one of starting a new album. We''re only giving ourselves 12 days to do it. For the last album we released in March, we actually gave ourselves three years to do it.

Wow, that''s a big difference.
Totally. We''re doing it old-school-style. This is like some serious Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin style of recording right here. Twelve days and we''re done.

You''re in a commercial studio?
And that right there is the difference. We have a gorgeous recording space in Philadelphia, which is where we rehearse. It''s where we did a lot of the tracks on our last album. It''s where we come in and conduct everyday operations. Because it''s our studio, we feel like we have all the time in the world, and it''s our money anyway. So when we''re not paying for studio time, what does it really matter if you want to work on something for two days longer or two months longer?

So for this album you decided to change things up?
We basically decided to come into a commercial studio with somebody that we started the album—our previous album—with. We did the first three tracks with the infamous Phil Nicolo of Studio 4 Recordings, in Conshohocken, [Penn.]. He gets some great tones. We''re working on a Neve VR, and it''s kind of nice working with an engineer that we trust.

How did Planet Anthem differ from the new project in terms of how you recorded it?
One of the biggest problems is that we recorded it in so many different studios, it kind of lost its continuity. And I think for a while we tried to rationalize that the album had continuity, but it was really just a rationalization. Because it took so long to get it done, sonically the songs sounded completely different and even the place in our careers that we were at [was different]. We were in a different musical evolution of our careers than when we ended the album. So even just the way that the songs were written and the concepts behind them were completely different from year one to year three.

Good luck with the new album. Hopefully this one won''t take as long to finish [laughs].
Most certainly. I owe it to our fans, at least, for that [laughs].