With Isolation Drills, MAGNET has been checking in with Philadelphia-area musicians during the pandemic, while Where We Belong shines a light on our beloved local venues. Now that our city is opening again, MAGNET has launched Philadelphia Freedom to explore what happens next with our music scene. Photos by Chris Sikich.
A CONVERSATION WITH FLAT MARY ROAD’S STEVE TEARE
What were you working on at Headroom Studios when we did these photos?
We were working on the main and backup vocals as well as acoustic guitar parts for a song called “This Summer.”
What project was it was for, and how/when are you looking to release the music?
This is for our fifth full-length album, which as of yet doesn’t have a title. I think we’d like to release it maybe in the summer or fall of this year.
How did your approach to writing and recording change as a result of the pandemic? How did it impact how you worked in the studio?
Like a lot of bands, we had recording plans that were derailed because of the early days of the pandemic. We were all set to enter a studio and get to work in March or April of 2020. While quarantining in the months leading up to the release of vaccinations, we wrote a lot of instrumental music and bedroom-pop songs that don’t quite fit with our usual setup. We would send them back and forth over email and add parts. It was fun and relaxed. We put one of the songs that resulted from that on our Bandcamp page: “The Firing Squad.”
How much time do you plan to spend—or have you spent—in the studio working on this?
At this point, we’ve spent four full days in the studio working on the record, and we may need just as much to finish up. I’m not sure. It’s slower than we’re used to, but we’re being more careful and thoughtful this time around, as well as giving ourselves the space to be improvisational and impulsive on the recordings.
Anything else you can think of to give MAGNET readers a behind-the-scenes look at your process, offering them a better understanding of what you’re working on?
We all have slightly different schedules in Flat Mary Road, so it can be tricky for us to get together and to all be in the studio together. But we’ve been playing the songs on this album for some time now; they were written three-to-five years ago. It has been kind of exciting to give each other space to work alone with Mark (Watter) on this record, and to see what each member comes up with. I personally would like to do more things like that in the future.
I also just want to say what a delight and a privilege it is to work with Mark. He helped engineer our last album and he mixed it as well, and working with him this time around is even more enjoyable. Mark brings so much enthusiasm and energy into the studio, and his technical knowledge and logistical approach mixes seamlessly with his vision of what is possible creatively on the recordings.
Musically, what are you looking forward to as restrictions are lifted in the city?
We haven’t played a show since December 2019, so the idea is both thrilling and frightening to us.