Baby monitor, late nights in the basement
When garage-rock four-piece Fizzed debuted its seven-song cassette tape, 1st, in January of 2016, singer/guitarist Christian Pierce was about to be a father. After his son arrived, he had to figure out how to rehearse and record with a baby in the house.
“We have a cape cod in Merion Village,” Pierce said. “We set up a practice space in the basement, and a couple friends of mine built walls and put insulation up, and we put these sound panels in the ceiling. It's all cobbled together around where the ventilation is so the sound doesn't travel up through the vents.”
After the modifications, Pierce's son could sleep peacefully in the second floor bedroom next to a baby monitor while the band practiced and recorded parts onto a Tascam 688 eight-track cassette recorder in the basement. But the baby monitor ended up serving another purpose, too.
“Fire (Come to Me),” one of 10 tracks on Fizzed's forthcoming sophomore album, Try, begins with a fuzzed-out, repeating drone. To get the strange, otherworldly sounds, Pierce held the base of the baby monitor next to the monitor itself and recorded the waves of feedback. “I waited till they were out of the house,” Pierce said of his family.
Before his frontman role in Fizzed, Pierce, 38, played drums in various bands, most notably the Tough & Lovely. For five or six years before Fizzed, Pierce also sat behind the kit in the Urns, led by Mike Nosan on vocals and guitar and Jim Calder on bass. In Fizzed, Calder again plays bass, but Nosan and Pierce switched roles, and the band later added guitarist Darren Latanick, who also runs World of Birds Records, which is releasing Try. The band will celebrate the new record with a release show at Spacebar on Friday, Sept. 7, alongside Garbage Greek and Wharm.
Fizzed laid down the basic tracks in Pierce's basement, where, on weekend nights, Pierce would descend to experiment with sounds, using the eight-track recorder's inherent limitations as a way to keep things simple. “It stops you from spending hours and hours of extra time dabbling with extra tracks, like, ‘Oh, what if I put five guitars on this?'” he said. “We're not Spiritualized.”
The band tends to write garage-pop tunes with layers of fuzz and noise and reverbed vocals. And while Try follows that model at times, it also strays, especially on closing track “Once in a While,” a pretty ballad that features clean guitars, viola and upfront vocals. “There's less in the way. There's still reverb, but less so than what we had recorded previously. The vocals are clearer, and that was intentional,” Pierce said. “I didn't want to take away from it.”