Since forming in 2004, Ledaswan has earned a solid following as one of the most active bands in San Antonio. With two EPs under their belt, the group’s third self-produced — and most ambitious — recording will be released on January 21. For it, they re-enlisted the services of Matt Brown (from the Seattle-based band Trespassers William, who also mixed 2007’s Verse of Truth Trash and Beauty), and the long-awaited, two-years-in-the-making result is … another EP!
Judging by three advance tracks we were able to hear, NUM83R5, to be released with a party at Nightrocker Live, is Ledaswan’s best-sounding album so far. “Faulkner,” the first single, is a guitar/drum/bass attack that sounds cleaner and louder than previous recordings; this ain’t a demo-sounding local band. But you should’ve seen singer Erica Monzon’s eyes when she told me how the band decided on an EP instead of a full-fledged album. The conversation took place on a freezing night on the North Saint Mary’s strip.
“I actually had my heart set with NUM83R5 being a full-length, but … ” She stopped talking and looked at hubby/guitarist Jaime, and I don’t want to speculate, but it was a playful I-told-you-we-should-have-released-the-full-damn-thing-you-jerk look.
“The music industry has changed a lot,” said Jaime. “Do we really want to put out a full album and then wait for a couple of years because that’s what everybody else has always done? If we write a song that we love and say, ‘Hey, these subscribers are going to love it, let’s put it out now!’ What’s wrong with that? We can do that now. Not that that’s the way we’re going to do things always, but we want to keep that door open.”
The band recorded a total of 14 songs, six of which found their way onto NUM83R5.
“We chose the songs that got a better response, the ones we felt, ‘This should be out now,’” said Jaime. “The other ones are also good, but have the potential to be even greater, so we decided to keep working on them.” One of the songs included in “Vol. 1” is a whole new version of “The new 60s,” included in Ledaswan’s 2006 debut album.
The second part of the album, tentatively titled NUM83R5 Vol. 2, will be released within six months, possibly followed by a release of both albums together, according to Jaime. “We wanted to have a more constant stream of music coming out, instead of putting `out` a full album and then not having anything new for another two years. That way we keep people on their toes.”
Each song of the album will have its own video, the first of which (the aforementioned “Faulkner”) premiered on January 11 at a Nightrocker party. Watching — and hearing — the video shows a more mature, ass-kicking Ledaswan.
“We did numerous retakes to make sure we got everything the way we wanted it to sound,” said Jaime. “We wanted to sound big, like our favorite albums. We wanted an album that sounds big back-to-back, from beginning to end.”
“We learned from our mistakes, and this one sounds a lot better,” said Erica. “We now know how to mic the drums, for example.”
Ricky Reyes, who left the band in good terms, recorded all the drums in the album.
“Can’t wait to hear the way the album turned out,” Reyes told the Current in an email. (The band has been auditioning drummers who can “play, rehearse, tour, record, and devote all his/her time to Ledaswan.”)
And then there’s Lalo! When I ask Jaime and Erica about Eduardo “Lalo” Rodríguez, the new bassist (who comes from rock en español band Freqüencia and joined in the middle of the recording), they look at each other and start laughing uncontrollably.
“He’s a very funny character; we love him,” said Erica. Lalo is Ledaswan’s first “real” bassist ever. “This is nothing negative about anybody, but it is the truth: up until now we had guitarists playing bass. Having a real bassist makes all the difference.”
“`Lalo` put that glue that was missing in certain songs,” said Jaime. “`Before,` sometimes our bass sounded like another guitar. We wanted a big foundation and he definitely brought that in.”
The band actually had all the bass tracks done, but when Lalo came in they decided to re-record them all. “The difference was night and day,” Jaime said. “You have the foundation down, and then you can throw in more colors everywhere. It’s so beautiful to now be able to have that freedom.”