The Lost Patrol is one of our favorite bands here at RUST, but what really impresses us about them is the respect and admiration they get from their peer musicians. Again and again, we hear amazing things being said about them from other bands, and this is a testament how good they are. They’re the band folks want to gig with and who travel to their shows just to see them. We’ve been talking about them a lot in conjunction with the Rustbelt sound that sprang up several years ago, and the last time we reviewed their album Driven we broke our own scale and called the album Obligatory.
Chasing Shadows is another great album in the Noir space that The Lost Patrol has explored so distinctly in their music. Part sci-fi, part grindhouse, each song is an acoustic treat, meticulously detailed with production and effects that make every aspect of the music significant. On Chasing Shadows, long time bandmates Mollie Israel, Stephen Masucci, and Michael Williams are now joined by drummer Tony Mann, and the band has never sounded better. The Lost Patrol is a group with excellence of writing and performing skills, and personalities, on par with a group like Genesis. They really are that good and the music they have been making is simply astounding again and again.
We’ve said so many good things about this band we reached out to guitarist-keyboardist Stephen Masucci to tell us a few things in his own words about the band and this latest album:
RUST: Stephen, what are some of the tools and techniques you use to craft the sound of the band and this album?
SM: Most of the sound of the band is actually in the writing, and, almost more importantly, in the arranging. So much of the arranging really defines the character of the sound and song. Having said that, we keep a small studio at the rehearsal space that we do most of our work in. The equipment selection is always evolving but we’ve been using primarily an Allen and Heath analog board coupled to an Alesis HD24 recorder. There’s a small selection of Lexicon reverbs, Spectra Sonics mic preamps and a few mics. Nothing exotic at all, really. The instruments we use are more or less standard but do include some nice keyboard instruments like a Moog modular synth, various digital synths, omnichords, etc. We really just use whatever suits the song at the time. Very little of our material is recorded “live” in the traditional sense. We usually record by overdubbing tracks as we go, adding parts and building the mix as we record. When we’re done recording the last track, the mix on the board is usually very close to the song’s final mixed version.
RUST: How do the song ideas grow and develop? Do you all start with pre-written lyrics and notes and such, or do concepts come from audio experimentation and then accumulate specifics to grow into complete songs?
SM: The songs can develop from almost anywhere; there’s no set or standard way we work. A tune could just as easily result from sonic experimentation, a rhythmic idea, a lyric, a melody, a chord progression or any combination of these. Once in a while Mollie might come in with something that is pretty much a finished idea, and then we set about arranging it. Again, no set pattern to any of this. The only thing we’re really wary of is the dilemma that most artists feel – do you have a style that is somehow uniquely yours, or are you simply repeating yourself or what others have been doing?
RUST: What have the past few years been like for you as an artist? Are you feeling that you’ve “made it” to the place you wanted to be?
SM: The past few years have been nice in that the work never really seems to stagnate, there’s always something new to explore. That’s not to say that it’s not tedious or hard work at times, but over all we love moving forward. We’re never really in the “place we want to be”, we’re always looking over the horizon.
RUST: What in your opinion makes Mollie “right” for TLP? What is it about her performing persona that makes her so special?
SM: It’s not so much Mollie being “right” for TLP as much as she brings so much to the table. She’s a gifted composer and lyricist who possesses a unique world-view, and that’s wonderful and inspiring to work with. Her musical interests are very wide ranging, and her musical vocabulary is really astounding for someone so young. Our (the instrumentalists) job is to frame and support Mollie so she and her ideas can be heard in the best possible way. She’s a unique person and should be heard that way. Pop music is essentially a vocalist’s medium, and showing the singer in the best possible way benefits the song as well as everyone involved. Also, she’s a truly gifted and original singer, and completely her own person on stage. How rare is that?
RUST: What changes to your approach to instrumentation have come about from delving so deeply into this space? How has your style, or philosophy changed because of TLP?
SM: Any changes in instrumentation, or our approach to it, really just stems from or goes hand-in-hand with us always looking for something new to do. Sometimes it’s what you DON’T do that makes a particular song
unique or gives it it’s own flavor. The main thing that has changed for me is that you start to realize that it’s not about the equipment, the studio, what guitars or keyboards you have, etc.; it’s all about the singer and the song. It sounds simple enough but it’s where the real hard work is. The things that make a great recording or performance is about your vision and how hard you’re willing to work toward your goals.
RUST: Thanks Stephen, last question, lots of bands love you, what’s one band that you really like?
SM: There’s a lot of really great bands that I (and the rest of the group ) really love. However, I really have a soft and warm spot in my heart for the Cramps.
RUST: Thanks Stephen!