Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Hurricane Bells is the bedroom recording project of Longwave frontman Steve Schiltz. Far more claustrophobic, sensitive, and homey than Longwave’s romantic, extroverted NYC enormo-rock, Hurricane Bells is band that relies on music written, played and recorded on Schiltz’s MacBook. Like Bowie’s “Heroes” on a MySpace budget, Schiltz fills his expansive singer-songwriter hooks with plenty of reverb, Echoplex, background swirl and home-cooked unease. The band’s album, Tonight Is The Ghost, is a natural fit for the newly only-sorta-emo Vagrant Records, and an even better fit for the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack, where one of its B-sides landed. Second track “This Is A Test” is a timeless piece of two-minute sulk-pop that seems to come straight from the days of The Church, Psychedelic Furs, and the Mighty Lemon Drops.
What is “This Is A Test” about?
I wrote the song in Australia on tour with Longwave years ago. It took a while to finish it; I tried for a while to make it into a verse/chorus/verse kind of song. In the end it just needed to be a quirky little thing. This was the first song I attempted to record using ProTools. It needed a name, so I decided on “This Is A Test.” Lyrically it seemed to fit, with the “world out of control” line.
How did you make the background whooshy harmony noise?
That is a couple tracks of me singing through an Echoplex. Echoplexes are fussy old tape echo machines from the ’60s and ’70s. The one I used is very noisy, and if you sing through it, it gives you a great hissy kind of whooshy quality, like you say. I have had repair guys try to “fix” that one, and I won’t let them touch it.
What were you trying to do with this record that you couldn’t do in Longwave?
I wanted to make a late-night sort of record. It needed to have some “up” kind of songs, but I didn’t want to use the Longwave steamroller guitar treatment. I thought I’d like to make something where the vocals were a bit more important, and that you could put on late and chill out to.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
Supper on 2nd St.
After 10 years, what is the biggest misconception about Longwave?
That we are The Strokes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 4, 2010