Colour Picture Book

by the partae
Colour Picture Book
What is your name and role within Colour Picture Book? My name is Adam Webster and I am the guitarist, singer, and janitor for Colour Picture Book. I suppose I’m also currently active manager of the band.
Where are you currently based and what is the music scene like there? I am in Collingwood, Ontario, right near a little town called Creemore where Matt (My brother/bass play) and I grew up. For those of you a little further away, it’s where all the little rivers flow into the Great Lakes. The scene here is really in a transitional period and it’s actually really fresh and exciting. There are a lot of cool new venues new exciting artists coming through town. It seems like a whole new thing since I moved back here from St. Catharines a few years ago. People are really starting to put on their own events, whether it’s renting the theatres in town for self-made productions or festivals and house concerts at private locations, there seems to be a lot more of a DIY vibe than when I spent the first part of my musical life here. Back then most of the live music was happening in smokey little blues bars that dotted the highways that ran through these little towns.
On September 21st, Toronto’s Colour Picture Book (Max Roach, Adam Webster & Matt Webster) will release a self-titled two song 7″, where and when did you record?We had the pleasure of recording on an autumn day at Revolution Recording in Toronto. If you haven’t been there, go check it out. The place is incredible. We tracked and mixed in one day. I wasn’t completely stoked on the sound of my vocals on one of the tracks so Max and I ended up going back to remix “This Time Around” in the winter and had a little fun with some analog effects.

Please tell us about the recording process and technique that you used: We really tried not to get too serious in the studio, because we find the best things tend to happen when you are feeling loose enough to have some fun and let yourself go a little bit. We did, however, remain serious about two things: we really didn’t want to over-edit what was happening, because the idea was to get the sound of a real band in a room. Part of this included staying out of the isolation booths, so we could all vibe in the same room together. This definitely made for some bleed problems with the vocals, so, some things were fixed if they could be remedied, but some things you just live with as part of the recording. The other thing we were serious about was to keep the recording process in the analog format, from start to finish.

Why did you choose to go down this recording path? I always loved the warmer scruffier sound of the old live tapes my dad kept around of his old bands from the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Most of my favourite recordings were done on tape, and whether they made their way to vinyl or not, there is this overall colour that the analog format adds that seems to get right into a place in my heart that is so closely tied to my memories and emotions. In short, to me, it seems to have more feel. After tracking to two inch tape, and mixing down to half inch, it only made sense to preserve it in it’s analog form and find a mastering engineer who could cut it straight to acetate discs without having to convert it to digital.

What programs and instruments did you use? We recorded through a beautifully restored vintage Neve console into a Studor 2″ Tape recorder that apparently used to belong to the CBC (just a rumour i heard). We mixed down to a badass Ampex 1/2″ machine. I played a Strat through a Traynor YGM on “This Time Around” and my old Fender Lead III on “Amsterdam.” I’m pretty sure Matt played a carbon fibre Mark King bass by Status, if I’m not wrong, through a POG pedal by electro harmonix. Max played a kick drum he found by a dumpster, a few pieces that belonged to the studio, and some really nice sounding mixed vintage cymbals.

Who did you work with? There is a great young engineer at Revolution named Luke Schindler. Max and I had actually worked with Luke on another record as session musicians, for the very talented younger brother of Toronto musician/producer Nathan Ferraro. Nate is an old friend of mine, and as soon as I had a bit of money and time to put something together, he reached out to revolution for me to see if Luke would be into working with us. Max, our drummer, is also a weapon as a producer and handled a lot of the duties in our quest for analog imperfection. Luke, Max, and I were at the helm on the final mixes, and the tapes were sent off to an OG analog mastering engineer in New York named Carl Rowatti. Carl has mastered records for a staggering amount of artists from Bruce Springsteen to Mark Ronson, but I wanted to work with him because he had cut “Ain’t it a Sin” by Charles Bradley.

What have you learned through this process? I think above everything else, we learned the value of staying true to your vision. It’s really important to see something through to the end. I also learned that in the studio, tape is my favourite compressor. (Just keep turning it up!). Another thing I learned is how much physical work it is to make an analog recording. On a computer, you could theoretically record a track, email it to a mix engineer anywhere in the world the same day, have him email that to a mastering engineer, and a track could be ready for the world on spotify tomorrow. To make this 7″, everything had to happen in the physical world. We recorded to a 2″ tape, mixed that down to a half inch master tape, mailed the half inch tape to New York (once we had the right protective packaging), have an acetate master cut physically on a lathe by Carl and sent back to me to listen to for approval, any changes we made had to be discussed and re-cut and sent back to me to listen to again. Once we had the desired master discs, they got sent to Mastercraft plating facility to be made into metal negatives (stampers). The metal discs were then sent to Archer Record Pressing in Detroit where the first vinyl test discs were pressed and mailed to me to listen to. We loved them, so 975 more were pressed, and are arriving in the mail tomorrow. I also had Noah Mintz master a needle-drop transfer straight off the vinyl to see which ones we liked better for the folks who prefer their music on the internet.

Please us your experience as being session musicians, how did you come to be session musicians? I can’t speak for the other guys, but as long as I can remember, I have been backing up as many different musicians and bands as I can, regardless of the genre or style. Looking back, it was definitely the most valuable part of my education. It taught me how to listen to the whole mix, not just what i was playing, and it’s where I made most of my closest friends. For years and years, I just waited for the phone to ring and one job always just led to another. When Colour Picture Book came into the scope, I could feel it was time to start focusing on something different, something that really spoke to my own personal vision. I had to learn to start saying no to people so I could say yes to what I was hearing and seeing in my head for all these years.

How did you first get into music? I really owe it to my folks. They were full-time working musicians when I was a kid and had a really tight, funky band. They were definitely not on the conservative side, and were loose enough to let Matt and I be exposed to some really great live music in the bars when we were kids. Stuff with deep pockets, hot solos and beautiful harmonies. We always kinda had a home on a small stage when we started playing our own music, and any parties at the Webster house always ended in smokey late-night jams around the table.
What do you like to do outside of music? When life allows, I am really into fishing creeks and rivers, and snowboarding in the winter. Well, I used to do a lot of it. I became a father just recently so most of my time is spent doing that these days, which in a lot of ways is a whole new world for me. To be quite honest, it’s been the best use of my time I’ve ever encountered.
Who are you listening to at the moment? For the last couple years, after coming off a big neo gospel/funk kinda kick, I was really into the beat movement stuff coming out, specifically guys like Knxwledge and MNDSGN with lost of cool slack and lo-fi sounds in some nice raw beats. It’s some really cool stuff. I also really got into Bahamas’ Earthtones this summer, but for the last week or so it’s been nothing but old tracks off Dookie (1994 dude!).
Who or what influences your sound? I have always been drawn to a hot party with a tight band over everything else. Perfection has never really been the goal. I would rather be part of a moment in time. Whatever that magic is that seems to happen when a band is playing outdoors at night, whatever that thing is that just seems to be in the air (you know what I mean), that is my biggest influence. I am forever searching for those moments, and when I’m lucky enough to be a part of one, I try to really breathe it in while it’s there. I love rehearsal tapes and recordings of live shows. My dad always had boxes and boxes of old live tapes of little known bands (usually his own bands) kicking around and I spent many a long drive wearing out shitty old tape decks with them.
What do you have planned for the remainder of 2018 going into 2019? Right now, we are really stoked to have the record come out and be able to play some live shows for the people that have been supporting us along the way. We are also in the process of working on some new material that will make it’s way to tape in the very near future, a couple of new songs I am really excited to work on. I feel like we really learned a lot when we were recording these songs and I’m really looking forward to be able to try some new approaches. We also have some new music videos in the works that will be released in 2019.
Favourite food and place to hangout? Ha! I have to be honest and say with all the craziness going on right now, my favourite place to hang out is at home with my little girl eating my old lady’s cooking. That sound be lame to some, but let me tell you, from a dude who has partied a LOT, it’s the best. And believe me, this lady can cook. Dudes, do yourselves a favour get a go get a real woman, and treat her like gold. That may or may not really answer the question. As far as places that are accessible to the public, there is this little spot in Collingwood here called Bent Taco where you can get these incredible little tacos with flavour infusions that you can’t get anywhere else. I highly recommend trying it out one night if you’re passing through town. The vibe is great there too.

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