Grime-loving rockers branch out on the excellent 'It's Not Always Easy Being a Ghost'

Garbage Greek singer/guitarist Lee Mason would probably hate how clearly his speaking voice rings out on a digital recorder in interviews.

After all, when the band started sessions at Musicol Recording for its new full length, It's Not Always Easy Being a Ghost, Mason had to pause the proceedings to ask engineer Keith Hanlon to swap out one key piece of equipment.

“The microphone was too nice. I could hear myself too well, and I was like, ‘No, no, this isn't going to work. We'd like to use a mic that's — I don't know how to put it — shittier?' So Keith was like, ‘Well, we have this old microphone.' What was it from, the Korean War [era] or something?” Mason said in a Downtown interview with bandmates Jason Winner, Adam Scoppa and Patrick Koch (Stefan Doke completes the full Garbage Greek lineup, though the band also plans to tour as a three-piece this summer with Mason, Koch and Winner). “It was this tiny green thing that looked like it was going to break, and when I sang out of it I was like, ‘This is perfect.'”

The lower-quality gear reminded Mason of the mics the band employs in its practice space, which tend to be a little more distorted and “a little more general garbage,” as he explained.

While Mason was responsible for much of Garbage Greek's 2016 debut — he cobbled together 10 or so songs that were too loud for his other band, the still-active Comrade Question, with the idea of starting a rowdier, meaner side project — It's Not Always Easy is a more collaborative affair, shaped during months of practice sessions and then captured to tape in two days during a solar eclipse, which allowed the band members to amuse themselves by looking at photos of President Donald Trump staring at the sun in between takes.

Mason estimates the group cycled through more than 25 tunes to land on the 11 that make up the album. While the band's debut rarely lifted a foot from the throttle, this new record offers more musically diversity, incorporating tunes such as the spacious, slow-building “Skull Mountain” and the heavy, doom-laden “Cold Heart,” which took shape after Scoppa asked Mason to play “the sludgiest riff” he could conjure. “That one has Black Sabbath, Black Angels — basically all the ‘Black' bands,” Mason said, and laughed.

Indeed, it was actually slower, more stripped-down turns such as “Skull Mountain” and simmering album closer “Walk Away” that presented a bigger challenge when compared with buzzing rippers like “Disappear.”

“‘Walk Away' was one where Jason came up with a drum beat … and we liked it so much we didn't want to clog it up with guitars, so it's pretty much three notes and a lot of drums,” Mason said. “When you're playing slower there's just tons of space and you're constantly thinking how to fill each part. And a lot of times the answer is don't. Don't fill it. Just let it go.”