Like thousands of musical acts from throughout the world, New Orleans-based pop-rock band Generationals made its way to Austin, Texas, last month for the annual South By Southwest Music and Media Conference.
Appearing at SXSW was a good start for the promotion of Generationals’ third album, Heza. Released this week, the album is another example of Generationals’ savvy songcraft and imaginative keyboard- and guitar-centered arrangements.
Generationals’ latest visit to SXSW was more hectic than the band anticipated.
“It was a lot fun and a lot of work, too,” Ted Joyner, the band’s co-founder with Grant Widmer, said recently. “The previous time we were there we played so many shows in three days, so this was a year when we were going to be super selective. We still did more shows than we had intended.”
Generationals and their constant studio collaborator, producer and former Baton Rouge resident Daniel Black, recorded some of Heza in Austin at drummer and Spoon member Jim Eno’s Public Hifi studio.
They also recorded the album at various locations in New Orleans, including a honeymooning couple’s temporarily empty house in the Bywater neighborhood, and at Black’s Bent Black studio in Washington, D.C.
Usually, Joyner and Widmer do all of their recording with Black within a specified frame.
“But lately it’s been breaking apart,” Joyner said. “Some of it gets recorded here, some of it there. That’s happening a lot to people in this day and age. I guess it is a reflection of how you can do a recording anywhere.”
Even though recording technology has made it possible to record beyond conventional studios, there’s still much to be said for making music in a set time and space.
“A strong sense of place is still important,” Joyner said. “I enjoy going to and working on a project in a specific place. It’s become a ritual for us to go up to Dan’s studio in Washington, sit with him and listen to demos and start figuring out how we’re going to give the songs shape.”
Joyner, Widmer and Black, a one-time member of the Baltimore-based Oranges band, have been making recordings together since Joyner and Widmer were members of the Baton Rouge band the Eames Era. Lasting from 2003 through 2008, the Eames Era placed songs in the TV series Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill and I’m From Rolling Stone as well as a song on the first Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack CD.
“We always looked up to Dan,” Joyner said. “He has been our mentor in every way. He also understands where we’re coming from. We have this common language. And whatever gaps one of us might have in our knowledge or understanding, the others fill in. The three of us complement each other.”
Following the release of Heza, Generationals begins a national tour Thursday, April 11, at Mud and Water in Baton Rouge. Former LSU students Joyner and Widmer hope to see some familiar faces at the show.
The tour also includes headlining shows at the Rock and Roll Hotel in D.C., Bowery Ballroom in New York, The Earl in Atlanta as well as stops in Chicago, Montreal and Toronto.
Joyner finds it hard to believe that Generationals has released three albums, two EPs and existed longer than the Eames Era.
“I still feel like we’re a new band and that we don’t have enough material to fill a set. But then I look and go, ‘Oh, no, wait. We have a bunch of songs.’ So now when we’re sculpting a set, it’s exciting to have new songs to pick from to make the live show better.”