By Sam SutherlandAfter some promising split releases and a wonderful EP, Philadelphia, PA's Restorations began working on their debut full-length ― a long, long time ago. Arriving as the latest release from the upstart Tiny Engines imprint, this self-titled eight-song effort proves to be worth the wait within seconds of opener "Nonlocality," when a massive, slow drum beat crashes in overtop of a gentle, lilting guitar melody. Borrowing from genres as diverse as post-rock and alt-country, Restorations succeed in building songs with the same awe-inspiring guitar work as Mogwai and the lyrical and vocal grit and resonance of a Jar Farrar record. At the core of the band is the churning hardcore of their hometown, a drive that holds down such disparate influences and succeeds in creating something unique that remains solidly rooted in the foundations of punk and hardcore. If it sounds like an improbable mix, one spin of "Neighbourhood Song" will turn sceptics into believers: this is groundbreaking. As a bonus, the guitar tone on each song sounds as if it was painstakingly matched to the track itself. Rather than build layers upon layers to achieve a sonic fullness, Restorations is instead full of thoughtful minimalism.
It's been a long journey to finally get this record out into the world. How satisfying is it to know people can finally hear it? Vocalist and guitarist Dave Klyman: It doesn't really matter what the project is, be it a new record, writing a novel, building a house, training for a marathon, etc., at some point during the process you sort of forget that you're striving toward any particular goal and just lose yourself in that process. There were some time and money constraints on this recording that shifted us into a higher gear for sure, hence the marathon comparison, but still, nothing seems to exist outside the creative process when you're inside it. After the recording comes the long process of production, artwork and all that. Satisfaction as a word doesn't do much justice to the feeling of seeing something you worked so hard on, that seemed to exist in a very specific world, move on and out into the actual world where we can no longer even attempt to exert control of how every beat and note sounds, how the music and lyrics will be perceived. There's no trepidation though; we're all really happy with the record.
Much care has obviously gone into the guitar tones and sounds on this record; how much emphasis was put on those elements in the studio? I'd like to think, as a band, we have a pretty good ear for what sounds good in studio. It's a completely different animal from how we approach our live sound and searching for that balance can be in turns incredibly frustrating and more fun that anyone should probably have. We knew going in the basics of the sound we wanted. Finding that sound you hear in your head, something close or sometimes better, is definitely something upon which we placed a great deal of importance.
Was the process of working with Joe Reinhart different than other studio experiences you've had? It's a little tough to say since Restorations have done all our recording with Joe. Is it different from other studios? Sure. But we were also recording with different kinds of bands at that point, so the process was very much different. Joe is a beautiful, scatterbrained man; he knows how to get the sound you're looking for. In some cases, he was actually pickier about amp and instrument combinations than we were. There's nothing quite like taking two hours to find a very specific sort of sound, finally seeing him press that "record" button, doing a full take and having him turn around and say, "we can make this sound better." As previously said: in turns brutally frustrating and maniacally fun. He may not know if his fly is open or not but he'll hear and understand all your crazy musical thoughts and spin them into absolute aural gold. Credit is also due to Jon Low at Miner Street studios, also 'round our parts here in Philadelphia. His mix took Joe's gold and polished it so brightly that we didn't even think it was us afterward; it sounded that good.
There seems to be a resurgence in great punk and hardcore bands emerging from Philadelphia over the past few years. What is the scene like there today? You know, this is a question that's come up a number of times, not always formally either. We get the, "where did all these Philly bands come from all of a sudden?" in regular conversation at shows and otherwise. Our response is usually some variant of this: the scene in Philly never really stops. Like any big city, there are a million hungry bands making the rounds. A good portion will break up a month or two later with little to no fanfare ― such is the way of local music. But then there are those bands that are actually the real deal, that are making great music and great strides, and they've done it for years and will continue to do it for years to come. This is an endless process for this city ― for any city. It's just a matter of who's paying attention at the time. Philly punk and hardcore has been solid for a long time, thanks to the efforts of not just bands but great local promoters. If it seems to be having a resurgence it's because people are starting to pay attention again.
Tiny Engines has a small roster of pretty much 100-percent hits. How important is it that you find the right people to work with? Tiny Engines is less our label, to us, than a gathering of our friends across the country that also happen to put out music. It consists of three people who have either played in or supported our various music projects for more years than are probably healthy or sane. Of course, we are ourselves insanely happy about the company we are joining band-wise by putting out a record with this label. Whether they know it or not, we've interacted in some way with a good portion of the bands on Tiny Engines, be it through past touring, playing more recent shows together, living in the same town or letting them crash at our house while they were on tour. How important is it that we had the right people backing us for this release? In hindsight of what may or may not have happened with this record, it seems sometimes as nearing the importance of the music itself.