Every now and then, a band strikes gold. That’s what happened with Carbon Leaf’s breakout album, Indian Summer. In the ten years since, they have kept that momentum, releasing a string of remarkable albums that have earned them a die-hard fan base.
However, there will always be a special place in their hearts for the album that got them noticed. In a brave new move, Carbon Leaf decided to re-record Indian Summer in its entirety, successfully walking the tightrope between fidelity to the original and awareness of the time that has passed.
Indian Summer is a classic. The new recording not only appeals to long-time fans, bringing back the album they love, but also has much to offer new fans, and as any Carbon Leaf fan will tell you, it sounds better than ever.
We spoke with front man Barry Privett about what went into the new project.
NYMM: What was the idea behind the project Indian Summer Revisited?
BP: Indian Summer was a good album for us. It got us some good exposure, got us out of Virginia, and got us touring. The new project is a re-recording of that album. We’ve released a lot of new material since then, so we wanted to take a look back at the catalog. We were in the mood to look back but still put out something new.
There wasn’t a lot we could do with Indian Summer because the old record label owns the master recording. Since we still owned the songs themselves, we decided to just re-record it. We tried to stay pretty faithful to the original but still breathe some new life into it as a band that’s been playing those songs for ten years.
NYMM: What is different about this take on it?
BP: We took all the master tapes from the original and listened to them track-by-track. We made sure that we had the sounds we wanted because we didn’t want it to be a radical departure. We wanted it to still sound like the album people fell in love with.
Usually, when you’re in the studio, you’re creating as you go, so you make some decisions at the time that you might move away from later. For example, you might put in a drum loop that you wouldn’t use again.
Also, our rhythm section has changed since the original recording. Having played these songs for ten years, we were able to just go in and play them instead of building them slowly.
NYMM: Are there any songs that were particularly fun to come back to?
BP: Yeah, and we’re meeting fans who are finding songs that they overlooked when the album first came out that have become their favorite songs on the new album. “Raise the Roof,” for example, wasn’t perfect on the original album. The intro didn’t sound strong enough, so we put the acoustic guitar a little more in the forefront.
“When I’m Alone,” which we don’t play live a lot, benefited from the re-recording. I feel like we got most of that album right the first time, so we weren’t looking for new tricks to change it.
Our goal was to emulate the album as it was, unless we found something we really needed to change. Of course, there are guitar parts that were recorded on guitars and amps that we don’t use anymore, so we had to find ways to recreate those sounds.
NYMM: Was it difficult to recreate the sound of the original?
BP: It was a challenge to get everything lined up. We were using a totally different recording system back then. It was almost like an archeology dig to get all the old parts of the recording and isolate them. Terry was the main engineer behind the project and he did the main work of sorting everything out.
NYMM: Have the meaning of songs changed much over time?
BP: We’ve moved on from a lot of the relationships that some of those songs were about. If there is one song that has remained constantly relevant to us, it would be “One Prairie Outpost.” That one always comes back to me. It never waivers or changes.
I don’t necessarily think about the same people that they were originally written about. For me, those songs capture a moment in time. Since then, we’ve released new albums, and those become the current thing. I don’t actually do a lot of looking back and thinking about it.
NYMM: What has been the fan response so far?
BP: Overwhelmingly positive. We’re just glad that people aren’t ticked off that we re-recorded it. You get it in your head that people still listen to your old albums all the time, but they don’t. We’ve been doing this long enough now that we look at it as an opportunity to introduce some older music to new fans.
You can find more Carbon Leaf here:
Images By Jon Karr
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