Doug Tuttle describes his solo recording style for his psychedelic pop, making his own guitar pedals, and the influences for his third record, Peace Potato, out on Trouble In Mind Records.
Peace Potato is your third full length record that is released on Trouble In Mind Records. What was the creative motivation for writing this album? What was going on while you were writing?
I started working on Peace Potato around the same time I started It calls on me, it was clear early on that the stuff I was writing wasn’t going to all make sense on the same album.
By the time It calls on me was released I had about half of Peace Potato written, and maybe a third of the recordings underway.
While It calls on me was fairly straight forward, I wanted Peace Potato to be a little different. My intention was for the album to run like a problematic night of sleep, songs ending and shifting suddenly, twisting references to real world occurrences, songs sounding like dreams of other songs, sudden awakenings etc. I finished recording it in October 2016.
You played every instrument on the album and recorded it in your basement. Do you work best in solitude or just find that for this project you could achieve your goals for the record without enlisting any help?
I actually recorded it right in my apartment, I’d just wait till most of the cars in the driveway were gone and record the drums as fast as I could, the rest was recorded fairly quietly.
I’ve played everything on all three of my records, it’s just easier for me. I’m self employed so I’m around all the time. I like being able to work on things whenever I see fit, and kind of constantly.
A lot of the time I’ll work on a song for an hour or two a day for a couple of months, it’s hard to include other people with that kind of work flow, but I feel it gives me the best results.
When you're working on an album, are you the type that rejects listening to any music to avoid cross-contaminating your work or the type that sets a creative "baseline" using influential songs and albums to support the process?
I just listen to whatever, I’m always recording so I don’t worry much about that stuff. A good example being that I recorded “Bait the Sun” the day after It calls on me was finished, so there isn’t really a getting down to business vs a down time mode for me, I just release records as they’re finished.
I have two songs done for the next record.
What does the album title Peace Potato represent?
It started as a branch of the dream vibe running through the record.
The dream was about a fictional movie of the same name, kind of a last ditch vs the end times deal.
I think the title’s a fair description of myself and a lot of folks I know who are currently trying to find the right balance between intention and action.
You had a band (MMOSS) that you recorded with in the past. What's different about your recordings as Doug Tuttle than with MMOSS?
MMOSS was 75% about capturing what we did live on record, we would often add extra layers of instruments or backwards cymbals etc, but the outcome always had to somehow reflect how we played together as a band. With my stuff it’s the total opposite, by the time the record’s out, the songs have never been played live. We’re just getting all of that together right now for this upcoming tour. I tend to go in a lot of different directions now, and worry about how to pull it off live when the time comes.
You build guitar pedals with your company Mid-Fi Electronics. How did you get into that hobby? Do you use your own pedals on your records and live performances? Any notable musicians out there using your gear?
I started messing around with building pedals in the late 90’s. It was the first thing I looked up when my friends' families started having internet access. I designed the first pedal that I still build (the random number generator) back in 2001. I use all of my own stuff, the only thing that’s on my pedal board that I didn’t make is my tuner.
I try not to mention people who uses my stuff unless they themselves have mentioned it in print. It feels weird to try make a buck off of someone else’s music in that way. A couple who are open about using my stuff are Wilco, RHCP, and Andy Summers.
Somerville, MA is where you call home currently, correct? What's the music scene like there? How does it allow you to get in the mindset to create music?
The Boston area has always had a really unique music scene as it’s largely based around college age kids, so there’s a huge turnover in bands every 4-5 years.
It changes from day to day. I don’t get out to shows as much as I used to. I like to get up early, but there’s always something interesting happening if you look for it.
What's your live show like? I assume you bring on a traveling band to play with you.
The lineup varies a bit. This tour will be the trio with myself, Noah Bond and Jesse Gallagher.
We toured Europe with this lineup a couple years back and I really enjoyed it. This will be the first time touring the US as a trio. I’m pretty excited.