How many rock bands can say that they met at the circus? The two main songwriters for Jupiter One can. Singer/multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi (a sometime touring violinist for Katy Perry and Regina Spektor) and lead guitarist Zac Colwell (who also sings and plays keyboards and flute) met while touring as musicians with the Barnum Kaleidoscope Circus.
Flash forward a handful of years later, the New York quartet is releasing its second full-length album, Sunshower [Rykodisc, out Sept. 15], an eclectic and happy-sounding—yet lyrically bittersweet—set of pop-rock songs.
Before setting out on a nationwide tour with Regina Spektor, K Ishibashi talked to EQ about the creative and technical recording process for the band's song funky song “Simple Stones,” time-consuming studio experiments, and five pieces of gear he can’t live without.
What was the process of writing and recording "Simples Stones"?
Zac wrote this amazing song that he had demoed on Garage Band and was sitting on his alter-ego band's MySpace (Fancy Colors, which is Jupiter One witout me). It's this really unique song that's got this Bob Marley/Police kind of groove with what sounded like Phil Collins singing on it. After convincing him that it would be better in Jupiter One than in his other band, we recorded it to tape.
We got our trusty engineer Chris Ribando [The Black Crowes, Mary J. Blige] to recreate the late Genesis effect (Invisible Touch era) on this Ursa Major Space Station [echo and reverb unit]. Chris had brought his own in thinking the studio, Carriage House Recording (Carriagehousemusic.com), wouldn't have it, but they did.
The demo had these cool fake handclaps that we tried to re-record for real. We never could get the awesomeness of the fake claps, so we took them from the demo. We took the synth solo from the demo, too.
We put a compressor on the hi-hat that was sidechained to the kick, so every time the kick hit, the hats would duck, causing it to sound like disco-syncopated hats. Our drummer Dave was actually playing just straight 16th notes. It tends to the make the track funkier at times. My DJ friends Designer Drugs showed me this. When they do ready-for-the-dance-floor remixes, they do this for almost all their instruments, which seems to work for club music.
What recording experiments did you try out on the album?
We tried re-amping the pre-recorded strings parts on "Find Me a Place" through the piano. I almost want to say it wasn't worth the four hours that it took, but it did soften them a bit to our liking.
What are five pieces of gear you couldn’t live with out?
1) My trusty AKG K110 cans: I've listened to thousands of hours of music on these. They're not really pro, but I know how pro music should sound like through them.
2) Neumann U 67 for my voice: The studio had an amazing vintage Telefunken Ela M 251, but I still preferred the U 67 on my voice most of the time.
3) Vox AC30: This is the reigning king of amps.
4) Gibson ES-335 guitar: the perfect pairing with the AC30
5) iPod: Your music's going to end up on them. We learned that it's important to compare your mixes to the music you listen to at every stage of the production process.