Chitown's Mister Suit gained our attention with the single and video for “Can't Be Found”, and continuing the creative dialogue of discovery is the recent recording “Happen 2 U”. The man behind the suit and the title of mister, is one-man-band-frontman Garrett Jones who has been busy in his apartment concocting a sound larger and greater than one would expect from the singular self-recorded home studio standard. In our recent discussion, Jones signals even greater things afoot with upcoming material coming in February 2014, via recordings with Matt DeWine at Pieholden Studios, established by Wilco's late multi-instrumentalist, Jay Bennett.
“Happen 2 U” kicks off with Mister Suit's drum machine kicks and claps with guitars and keys that clasp hands together in the mixing haze. Like on “Can't Be Found” and “Grown Up“, Garrett lends views of the interior with deliveries of thoughts and wisdom worn on the sleeve with confidence and coolness. “2 U” kicks down the delusions, breaks all rules of exceptions with the sonic wind-stream of life set on hyper-drive. The bass tone synth centers the song that enables a wild whirl of effects that send out the guitar chords and key crystallizations everywhere. Within this musical mist, Jones schools the listener and spells out some real life lessons in that eternal sunglasses shaded NYC dead pan that we can never get enough of-ever.
Garrett Jones joined up with us to take us behind the scenes of his new single, with glimpses of works, and plans in progress.
“Happen 2 U” involves some of your larger sounds and sonic dynamics, what was the approach to making every key tone and strum of a guitar string sound larger than life?
I think, maybe, I just got a little bit better at production! I don't know really, but without going into too much audio engineering junk I've been messing around with a couple of ways to get a better guitar sound because I record the guitar / keys directly into the computer, not by choice, but because I live in small apartment. And by doing this I really lose a lot of the amp's realness and character. So, I kinda tried to mimic a livelier room sound by sending the guitar / key tracks to another buss track that just has a slight bit of small-room reverb and some other goodies on it, and then I used some console-based channel strip emulators that just add a bit of low-end goodness, glue, and some nice saturation. The keys get the same treatment as the guitars, and this track in particular has some wilder panning on it. [For example] the vocals are panned hard right, the guitar is hard left, and the main keys are in the middle. That's an old technique that can really make certain elements seem louder than others. It's a fun headphone listen too, like listening to Revolver on headphones. You know back in those days, consoles only had left, right, and center volume control. I like doing that quite a lot. It's maybe a bit too squashed as well, but fuck it!
What real life events and happenings lent inspiration to “Happen 2 U”?
No specific event really, but I think the title and general theme is something that is just true! Ya know, people think shit don't happen to em, but it can, and it does.
As a one man band that rocks as if you were a quartet, what is the method in creating a self-designed and self-made sound that has such a richness that could have been a collaborative effort but is your own brain child?
Well, thanks! It's tough, but it usually starts with a simple grooving drum beat, and then I'll add some chaos! And by that I mean I just don't really have pre-written parts planned out, nor do I have any clue as to what I'm gonna eventually keep, so I'll just kinda jam around a bit and it usually helps to have a solid bass line that is grooving too. That's the thing, if you have a solid rhythm section, MAYBE you've got a hook, and you got some interesting sounds, you can kinda do whatever you want, it will sound good! I think the key thing for me is just keeping it loose. I've got that strict drum / bass thing going on, and so there's gotta be some elements that are just a bit free, and that is usually the melody / vocal tracks. Most times an instruments part will just kinda evolve from a pretty rough / bad idea to a real thing and so on. The vocals almost always start as scratch, kinda free-styled things, and then morph into real words and a story, or whatever. It's hard to stay focused. I'll be working on a keyboard line, and a guitar idea will come in to my head, so I've got finish what I started, but yet keep that feeling / idea in my head so I can switch the inputs and grab the guitar and keep it moving. Lots of coffee, which may or may not help me out. And I usually spend a fair amount of time away from the track, come back to it in a couple of days with some new ideas, and then do some sculpting or trimming of the fat.
If you could collaborate with some other artists/groups, who would they be?
I really like Dan Boeckner's stuff. I think that would be pretty great. And, as I was saying earlier, for me it's all about the drums / bass combo. So, someone like Paul Simonon [of The Clash] on bass would be it! And then on drums, someone like Charlie Watts [of the 'Stones], or Al Jackson, Jr. [Stax drummer] would be slamming. Yeah, that would be a dream, and impossible to get Al Jackson as he's long passed, but that would be great! I think Bradford Cox would be fun to hang with too.
What else can you divulge about other songs and singles in the works, and what should we be expecting?
I've got two new tracks coming out in February that I recorded last month here in Chicago. I worked with Matt DeWine who runs the late Jay Bennett's [Wilco] recording studio, Pieholden. We got wild, loud, and ate lots of Polish deli sandwiches. The drums sound crazy! I recorded some live drums and then we messed em all up. They sound like a crazier Joy Division drum sound, they are really something. The tracks are pretty good, I think. I've been playing em live for a while, and so they are kinda tried-and-true for me at this point. Yeah, it was an easy and fun session for me. It was my first time in the studio, and I was kind of unsure about how it would turn out, but it was great, and I think I learned some things too.
I'll probably try and put out an EP, or something. Been trying to make it to Austin, TX to record with a certain someone for a while now. So, maybe that will happen? Maybe a bit more structured tour? I'm getting outta Chicago for sure, NYC, LA, SF? Lets hang?
Listen to more from Mister Suit via Soundcloud.