Checking in with Tacky Little Hatshop

Taking a peek into the recording process of Long Beach’s Tacky Little Hatshop

Tacky Little Hatshop band photo

Johnny Romero | Daily 49er

Tacky Little Hatshop, Long Beach’s resident galactic folk-hooligan band, is currently recording their second album. Annie and Enya Preston, Victor Orlando and Erick Orlando and Jeff Suri sat down with the Daily 49er to give insight behind the bits and parts of their wacky band boutique.

Where did you find the hat shop?
Annie Preston (guitar):
Well, it actually started with me and Enya (keyboard), and we’ve been playing music since we were little girls, cause we are sisters, and probably ever since we were four. We started the actual band when we were 13 and 14. It was just us for probably five years and then Jeff (producer, drums) started playing with us; we met and we needed a drummer and Orlando (engineer, bass) and Eric (percussion) are Jeff’s friends so it all just kind of organically happened. And here we are.
Enya Preston:
[The band name] was kind of mentioned in this Anime that [Annie and I] both like. The idea of it was from this Japanese anime that we really like. We were like “Oh, that sounds cool.” So, we kind of did it as a joke at the beginning but then we kind of just kept it.
It just stuck.
So you’re kind of folk-y, but kind of rockabilly. Has your sound changed over the years? What is it like now?
Jeff Suri:
It has changed over the years since we became a band. It’s more like trying to bring out the keyboard in front and the percussion and drums, and accent video games sounds, really, in some folk-y, galactic way. Keyboard is the highlight of the music.
Enya Preston
Erick Nieto

Johnny Romero | Daily 49er

Top: Enya Preston. Top Right: Erick Nieto.

Where did the video game aspect come from?
It’s a natural influence that Enya has. When I first met [Annie and Enya] I would ask them about bands and music and they really didn’t listen to any bands or music, they just listened to video games and maybe some popular stuff like Arcade Fire or something that would come on the radio.
I just played video games when I was little, nonstop, like every day, and I just always loved the music. That kind of melted into what I play on the keyboard.
How is the recording of your second album coming?
It’s going well. We’re just working on one song tonight. We’re experimenting; this time we’re trying to record all of the songs live, which last time we were doing each instrument individually. We realized that the vibe is really captured well when you are recording live. We’re having lots of fun with that. It’s really cool. You have to practice the song a bunch first, but I think we’re really liking how that’s coming along.
Annie Preston
Victor Orlando Nieto

Johnny Romero | Daily 49er

Top: Annie Preston. Top Right: Victor Orlando Nieto.

Walk me through a typical day of recording.
(laughs) Welcome to the studio.
Victor Olando:
It starts early for me. Before they come I’m already setting things up — making sure all of the microphones are ready, that the equipment is working properly — it takes me the whole morning. Eventually they come in the evening, they set up their instruments and they start warming up. And while they’re doing that I’m trying to set the microphones around to get good levels then do a test recording while they’re jamming.
And eventually I jump in and start jamming too. And then I’ll listen back to what we recorded, and if it’s sounding good, great; if not we have to adjust the microphones or change microphones. That’s when the production comes into place. We start around 6 p.m. and then we end at about two in the morning.
When you’re doing multi-tracking, you add the bass at a later time and then the guitars and then the vocals and then everything separated and you mix it all together. But when you do it live everybody is playing at the same time, in the same room.
Because we’re doing it live it becomes a little more of trial and error. Play the song, hear it back, change this positions, change settings, play it again, listen back. Eventually we’ll get to a point where we’re like, okay, it’s starting to sound as it was envisioned. When you’re playing live and someone makes a mistake you have to do it again. That’s part of the fun too. I laugh about (mistakes). I think it’s funny.
You don’t get as much isolation, which we think is cool. If you just record the drums, it’s just the drums. Everything is isolated and very clean. It’s a little bit of an adhesive feeling. It glues everything together. You really capture what’s happening in the room with everybody playing.
The good old-fashioned way.
How long does post-recording take? Like mastering and mixing?
Wow. Depends on the recording. For example, now we’re doing it live. We recorded a song last week, and we like it, but we thought we could do it better. We’re recording the song one more time this week. So we hope that in a couple of days we call each other and say “Yeah, it still sounds good.” Or we say “No, let’s go back.” Once everything is recorded, we have to mix and master it. Two songs could take as short as a couple of months, but it could also take six months. A lot gets in the way, like with work or other responsibilities. That’s why it would be wonderful to just do the band, it’d probably go faster. But you know, we manage.
You kind of have to consider what you’re going to do with the record after you’re done with it. If you want to release it in a month, then you get it done. But if you decide not to release it for a year and things kind of keep stretching out, you might add some more stuff later. You just don’t ever finish. So, we really need like a deadline. Right now we don’t have a deadline so we can do whatever.
(laughs) Let’s make one right now.
That’s very wise. A work of art is never finished. You always thing that you can do it better, you always think that something can be changed.

Johnny Romero | Daily 49er

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