Interview: John Sava of Amish Electric Chair
Originally a three-piece consisting of Neil Tuuri (guitar/vocals), Eric “Scotty” Tuuri (drums), and John Sava (bass), Amish Electric Chair recently welcomed a second guitar player, Bobby Avalos, into the fold. With a revamped lineup and the hand-built recording studio completed, it seems that the time is now for the band to begin working on their third full length.
Having already self-released previous efforts and being near-broke after building the recording studio from scratch, the band hopes to raise enough funds via Kickstarter to give the release a proper physical CD/LP incarnation.
You built your own studio?
The studio was a three-year project, built on four acres in the middle of nowhere next to the house that Amish Electric Chair lives in. I won’t mention how much money is in the place, but I will say that every bit of it was paid for in cash made from low-paying jobs over three years.
How many songs will be on the new record?
Somewhere between 10 and 14 — most of the punk albums we like have 13 songs. Since we are recording a complete song before moving onto the next one, we don’t have to be locked into the entire set list when starting out. If a song doesn’t work out, it will get trashed, put on the next record (if it fits better), or deconstructed and recycled into a new song. This album should be a sample of a period of time. There are no rules.
How long have you been working on these songs?
The oldest song on this album was written in 2008, so it has been a long time coming. We just finished a new song a few days ago. There have been probably 20 songs that have come up in the past three or four years, but if it doesn’t fit the rest of the album, it is destined for the cutting room floor.
This is the least rushed recording we have ever done. We didn’t want to start until we had what we needed to make a “record,” and not just a compilation of songs.
Why did you start a Kickstarter campaign?
Besides the obvious financial benefit of Kickstarter, there are a couple great things that it can provide. It allows the artistic process to be more streamlined — once the recording process starts, nothing is worse than stalling and losing momentum. Now, the recording studio we are using was built by ourselves, and it was definitely not a cheap endeavor. Having our own studio and engineer (Neil Tuuri) is a definite advantage. The money being raised by the Kickstarter is not for recording, but for mastering and duplication of vinyl records. It can also help with equipment maintenance, such as drum heads and guitar strings.
What can you tell us about the album as it’s coming together?
The album is made of songs about friendship, hardship, and love, and through all the piss and vinegar is meant to be a very positive 40 minutes or so that you can use to escape from the real world.
Each song on the album is being recorded with its own “soundscape.” From the drums all the way up to the backing vocals, we will tailor the sounds specifically for the song. This method is expensive, but pays off in the end.
Do you plan on touring any time soon?
After the release of the new LP, Amish Electric Chair will be doing some light touring. This is opposed to previous releases that involved longer, regional tours. Honestly, touring is the most fun a band can ever have, but with the internet being the main source of fans seeking out entertainment and the price of gas skyrocketing, it gets to be draining quite fast.
That said, we are still going to tour as much as possible. Mostly four-day weekends, and bigger festivals. We hope to do The Fest in Gainesville, SXSW, maybe some cool fests out west. We can tour on the way down and back up too. We would really love to be a part of a two-band package tour.
You’ve offered up a little taste of the album via a Soundcloud clip. What can you tell us about this clip?
It’s the second verse and chorus of the song “Etiquette,” which was written after some amount of frustration with an unnamed band we shared a stage with while on tour two years ago. We were asked to play first, which was fine. No problem. General etiquette for touring bands is that they don’t open or close, unless it is a headlining gig. So, we finish the set, and then the next band comes in from hanging out in front of the venue — missing our entire set. The drummer asked to use our drum kit because they “didn’t feel like bringing ours all the way here.” Turns out, they literally lived down the street from the venue. Kinda put us on the spot, but sure. Use our kit.
We got our equipment off the stage and waited for them to set up so we could watch them play — a courtesy we always extend to any band we play with. We actually like seeing bands play. So, they are almost ready to play, and their guitar player says, “Where is the amp?” Not, “Where is my amp” — for some reason he expected there to be an amplifier for him supplied by someone. I put my rig back on stage. No “thanks” or anything.
They start playing the show, and it’s just awful. Not the kind of awful where the band is good but I just don’t care for the style or genre — but wretched scratching-a-chalkboard awful. The drummer is just annihilating Scotty’s DW kit and cymbals. The entire crowd backs away or goes outside. We stood right up front for the whole hour-long set. They were supposed to play 30 minutes. We pretended to like their band. They got done and got off stage, but left all of their equipment and ours there.
At this point it was 1 a.m., and the last band had to get loaded on and be done in 45 minutes since these guys wanked off for so long. We ended up helping to get all the gear off the stage while the band high-fived each other over at the bar for being uber-metal. The dudes then immediately left the venue before the last band even got started. Bad experience…which led to the writing of the song.