Q&A: Harvey and the Buckets' Nick Petakas on Self-Production and Being a Fan of Your Bandmates
Nicholas Petakas: Well, in the beginning it was myself and our old guitar player David who started the group as a country/folk duo sort of thing. It wasn't long until we formed a full band. There were maybe two months in which we recorded our first batch of demos. And now after a few lineup changes, we've basically recruited a group of musicians we have always admired.
You just released a new album digitally, and eventually it will come out on vinyl, if I'm correct. How are the tracks on it are different from your older stuff?
Yes, the digital release came out May 10. The vinyl release date is still to be determined as we are throwing additional tracks on that, trying to make a unique pressing out of it.
Three Sheets, Seven Veils is really just a collection of songs that we played out over the past year or so. A couple of the songs ("Kay's Too Tired For Me" and "Can't Be Bothered") are actually old tunes of mine that I had backlogged prior to Harvey. The rest were all written within months of us tracking them. Our goal for this particular release was to more or less capture the essence of each tune as they are interpreted during live performances.
I can see how the presence of multiple songwriters would create a healthfully competitive atmosphere. So, you tried to capture a live interpretation of each song. I'm curious about why. I'm sure you're familiar with producing something with a standard studio sound, so what made you want to capture the live essence?
Good question. I think at the time, we were really into music with that sort of feel, like the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street, Gram Parsons, the Byrds. All of that kind of had that essence, so we thought those particular songs especially would fit that kind of fidelity production.
Since you're currently messing with production yourselves, does that mean Three Sheets, Seven Veils was not self-produced? With whom did you work to produce it?
Yes, the album was tracked at Contrast Studios with our good friend Richard Salino behind the controls. I would say it was a joint effort between him and the band throughout the production process, though he's very well-versed in a technical sense and certainly did a fantastic job engineering and attaining the tones we wanted.
The idea of you guys doing some self-recording sounds exciting. Do you feel like you might be headed in a slightly different direction, since you're experimenting more? Maybe an expansiveness of sound or another album already in the works?
We certainly have a deep catalog of songs. We all write a lot, so the material is always there. However, our most immediate plan -- coinciding with the record release -- is to release a series of two- or three- song EPs every month or so for a few months, maybe throughout the year, and simultaneously start work on a full-length album come this fall. We're aiming to have that done by the end of the year as well. Overall there will certainly not be a shortage of content from us whatsoever.
I know what you were into when you were working on Three Sheets, Seven Veils. Can you list for me what you've been listening to recently, as you're working on this new material, as well as your musical influences from back in the day?
Lots of stuff for sure. I think between between the five of us there's always a ton of musical ground being covered in terms of what we're listening to. Teenage Fanclub, The Ramones, Saturday Looks Good To Me, and Ty Segall have all been points of common interest lately.
You guys have been playing music for awhile, as you mentioned. In your opinion, how has the local music landscape changed? You've been in quite a few bands, played at a lot of venues, and things have definitely shifted. What's your take on it?
Things have definitely changed since we all started playing music, whether it be due to the times or whatever, since I do think that the shift in technology and the Internet, and the fact that it's now easier than ever before to be in a band in terms of networking, promotion and home-recording, has changed things for both the musicians and the fans. It's good because of the tools it has provided but in some ways it has made it harder to break through as well.