Did you cut your band tracks live?
Except for “Sloan Shore” and “Sunnyside,”
two songs I recorded solo, we cut the rhythm
tracks live. Malcolm just mic’d us up and
we went at it. Dan played bass with me and
Jordan, and then later set up his EVI [Akai’s
Electronic Valve Instrument, invented by Nyle
Steiner] to overdub tracks of strange and
beautiful sounds. The EVI is an electronic
trumpet that Dan runs through all kinds of
processing to create these amazing textures.
How long did you spend recording Junior?
What prompted you to form a band to
Drummer Jordan Perlson (left) and multi-instrumentalist Dan Brantigan (right) onstage with Kaki King and her 1972 Fender
Telecaster Deluxe. Photo by Jennifer Ebhart
On my previous album, Dreaming of
Revenge, I played most of the instruments
myself, which meant layering bass, drums,
and keyboards in addition to my guitars and
lap steel. This time I wanted to try something
I’d never done before, which was to put
together a trio and cut the tracks as a group,
live in the studio. Obviously, that’s the way
many bands make their records, but for me
it seemed like a real adventure. I feel it’s
important to try new ideas and keep growing as a musician, and working with a trio
was one way to accomplish that. This time, I
relied on Jordan and Dan to help me arrange
and develop the music—a very different
approach for me.
they’d come up with parts I wouldn’t have
thought of, and that inspired me as a guitarist. Playing with a rhythm section I was able
to explore lead lines and solos, and that was
Not long. We really didn’t want to labor
over the music. We recorded as a trio for
three days, and Dan came back for two days
to add his EVI sounds. Then Malcolm and I
spent probably a week and a half working
on overdubs, developing lyrics, and doing
some vocals. We took a break because he had
another project, and then I came back for less
than a week of singing and mixing. It felt like
we worked relatively quickly, but then again,
some people complete their albums in a week.
What guitars did you use?
Malcolm Burn produced Dreaming of
Revenge, and you tapped him to produce
Junior too. What drew you to work with
We’d already gone through the process of
learning how to communicate, and that’s
important when making a record. When
things get difficult in the studio, it’s good to
know how someone will react to the situation. Plus, Malcolm has seen me struggle with
ideas or parts, so I don’t feel self-conscious
working on my vocals. We’ve developed the
ability to trust each other’s creative process.
I have several Hamer Newports, and I used
them a lot on this record. I really like playing a
hollowbody electric, and the Newport is light
and the right size for me. On “Sloan Shore,”
I played Malcolm’s Fender Jaguar baritone. I
was looking for a different sound and he suggested I try it. Though he had it tuned down
in the bass register, it has the sonic clarity of a
guitar—it gave me a bit of both worlds. I also
played my Gretsch Electromatic lap steel, which
first appeared on Legs to Make Us Longer.
How about amps?
Did you rehearse before going into the studio?
Yeah, and that was fun. I got together with
Jordan and Dan, and for about three days
we worked out the basic tracks in Jordan’s
basement. I’d bring in ideas and we’d develop them as a group by jamming and trying
out different arrangements. I liked getting
input from the other musicians—it wasn’t
my job to come up with all the ideas. For
example, I wasn’t worried about finding the
right drum parts or developing a groove.
That was Jordan’s job. And of course,
because these guys are amazing musicians,
I’ve seen wonderful You Tube videos [The
Making of Dreaming of Revenge, Vignettes
1-5] of you and Burn working in his studio, Le Maison Bleu. Did you return there
to record Junior With all the lamps and
couches, it looks like an inviting space.
Malcolm has a nice collection of recording
amps, so I used whatever he’d set up. I didn’t
pay much attention to what they were, but I
recall one was an old Ampeg. [For details on
King’s amp rig, see the sidebar on p. 131.]
Did you get involved with mixing?
Yeah, it’s really cool. He has all these instruments and the environment is relaxed—more
like a living room than a sterile studio. He has
a lot of old analog equipment, too. Having a
familiar place to record really helps, especially
because I was trying this new trio approach.
Yeah, certainly. I leave it up to Malcolm to
do the first mix, and then I’ll respond to
that. If I want to hear more of a particular
part, I’ll ask him to emphasize it. But it can
get tricky because he doesn’t do any digital
mixing at all. He does each mix manually—
it’s almost like this dance he does with the