An interview with The Gorgeous Hussies

The Gorgeous Hussies / Courtesy of The Gorgeous Hussies, photo by Danny CarverThe Gorgeous Hussies, the previous subject of a spotlight, talk to regarding their music, their upcoming release, the recording process, and Salt Lake City.

The Gorgeous Hussies – “What Fool Would Feel”

Most anybody can listen to music and appreciate it, but it takes a certain kind of person to desire to create it. What influences you to create music?

Ryan Smith: There are a couple of things that drive me to create music: First is desire to play in general. The energy and natural high you get from performing is addicting. In that sense it is more intense and especailly gratifying when you create the music yourself. Anyone can play covers, but playing music you have created, and that people enjoy, is the main reason for creation. The second reason is just to drive ourselves to be better musicians. I like the fact that in this band I can play a few different styles. We are a rock group and since so much has been done with that genre it is hard to come up with new and creative music. It is a great challenge we are taking head on!

John Chatelain: I think part of making music is trying to figure out what pushes us to do so. It’s sort of circular (we make music to figure out why we make music), but we live with these songs long before they actually become songs, and much of the writing and refining process is just trying to ‘get it right.’ Get what right? Who knows! But when it happens we can feel it. This is how we write, and also how we are producing the album.

I think this kind of connection we experience in writing and recording is also what we are hoping to have with people who hear the music. We chose themes that were personal to us, but that most everyone could relate to as well. And we want them to relate, and if the songs get people bobbing their heads and moving their feet, that’s all the better.

What’s the status on your upcoming release?

Ryan Smith: We are still laying down tracks in the studio. Currently guitars are being tracked and vocals are next. We are almost on the downhill run.

Jordan Olsen: We’re still laying down foundational tracks. But we’re almost on the downward slide! People can see up-to-date photos from the studio on our blog at

What are your goals with the upcoming album?

Jordan Olsen: This is our most accessible album we’ve written in or out of this band. We feel the songs are very relatable and will strike a nerve with most people in our audience. We hope this album will be a foundational building block to furthering our career with touring and building a strong fan base. Essentially, we feel the music is our best work and will hopefully be well received and help build a stronger fan base.

Ryan Smith: Tour tour tour! We want to be able to put out an album that can be commercially acceptable but also hit that edge between normal and experimental.

What is your recording process like?

Ryan Smith: These sessions have been fun and hard. I am engineering the album, but also being the drummer we decided to get a different engineer to worry about tracking those. We got our friend Aaron Hubbard, who is an active freelance engineer in Salt Lake, to take over on that one. But because the budget was tight we had just two days to track the drums. We did a lot of prep work for the album itself and it paid off when we recorded the drums. I was able to play well and with the energy that I wanted. Also, because of the fact that we all have day jobs it’s hard to set aside time to record. We are lucky if we can get three nights in a week, and possibly a Saturday. It is tough but we are slowly chipping away at it. The overall feel has been fun and energetic. When we hear how the songs slowly come together and evolve when we record a new instrument, it makes it all worth it.

John Chatelain: We laid down scratch tracks altogether, to ensure the ‘playing-with-other-people feel’, and then are working slowly through doing the final takes of everyone individually. We finished the drums and bass and are near finishing guitars, after which will come vocals then keys, alt percussion and any other harmonic flourishes the individual arrangements may require. What I really appreciate about the way we are recording this album is that on any one evening we may only be recording one person’s tracks, but we are all present to listen and discuss the individual performances. So in this way we all record the guitar, or bass, etc. It is a great opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the subtleties of everyone’s performances, and when one of us hears a motif or a ‘happy little accident’ that needs to stay we can point it out and work at implementing it. There really is a lot of writing that gets done in our recording process. We go into the studio thinking that the songs are more or less written, but so much becomes apparent when you aren’t concentrating on your own performance that the songs develop almost independent of any of us individually. Which is great.

Jordan Olsen: Meticulous and well planned. There is a certain amount of street cred given to bands that are willing to just go in and all lay down tracks at once and call it a day. However, we’re not like that. I don’t know if we’re too left-brained or just really anal, but we spend many hours in the studio dubbing parts and fiddling with instrument sounds and tones to try and get “our” sound as much as possible. It’s a lot of work but very satisfying.

What’s the reasoning behind offering live videocasts?

Ryan Smith: In order to build a fanbase, you have to offer your self up. Having a videocast on our website is a good way to involve the fans in the recording of the new album. When you are on stage there is a certain connection between you and the audience, and being able to bring that to rehearsals as well keeps the energy high. Plus we’re geeks.

John Chatelain: The videocasts play a certain role in this connection. I always think it is interesting to see how different groups develop their music, and this is a way for people to tune in and see how we do it. It also adds a personal level to the whole band thing, ’cause people can see that we are real guys, who quote the simpson’s incessantly, who take a break during every rehearsal to go get a soda, and all those things that are typically hidden by the opaque mystique of the rock band persona. Jordan Olsen: It’s hard to keep in contact with our fans at all times. And especially right now while we’re not performing because we’re in the studio non-stop working on the album this is a good way for fans to get a “fly-on-the-wall” experience on how our music is developing.

Do you prefer to perform to an audience or to spend time in the studio?

Ryan Smith: A good mixture of both is required I believe. Being a musician there is a passion for both. I don’t think you can have one without the other. Touring and playing live is the best way to showcase your talents and musicianship. Usually by the time you are done in the studio you can’t wait to get out and play some shows. It goes the other way as well, when you have been out on the road for so long and you have new ideas that need to be tracked, you start to get the bug to really go in to the studo and produce some good material.

John Chatelain: Studio time is great because we get to ‘geek out’ (and how!) over tones and arrangements and gear, but the energy and thrill of live shows is really the crux of the experience. That and eating at Denny’s afterward.

Jordan Olsen: Contrast is always a good thing. I love getting on stage and playing to an excited audience and hitting the road with my friends and playing a new joint each night. It’s so much fun. But a nice break to write and work on new material is equally enjoyable. If we didn’t give ourselves time to recoup and write new material I think it would negatively affect our live performance. The studio is where a band “creates” themselves. So I’d have to say I enjoy an equal amount of time given to both performing and studio time.

How supportive is the Salt Lake City area of your music? Do you find support coming from elsewhere as well?

Ryan Smith: Salt Lake is great. We’ve had some great experiences at a lot of the Salt Lake venues. Some bad ones, but mostly good. I think we have been a little more accepted outside of the Salt Lake valley because of our style of music. It is different and I’m not sure the home crowd digs the old stuff too much. Hopefully our new material will go over well in SLC and we can continue to build our fan base.

Jordan Olsen: To be honest we’ve seen MUCH more success outside of the Salt Lake City valley than we have within it. The SLC crowd can be broken down into just a few musical cliques and each has a definite sound and attitude of music they subscribe to. We don’t fit into any of those molds so we have a much more difficult time getting the attention of the average music listener in SLC. So in 2007 we played about 2/3 more shows outside of the SLC valley than within it. We’ve received fantastic responses from music scenes throughout Idaho and Southern Utah. Hopefully, however, some of the new songs on our upcoming album will be a little more accessible to SLC listeners. It’d be nice to grown a fan base closer to home.

The Gorgeous Hussies are
· Jordan Olsen: Vocals and guitar
· John Chatelain: Vocals and bass
· Ryan Smith: Drums
· Tyler Steadman: Keys

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