July 11th, 2012, 11:39 am · · posted by KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
During the summer of 2010, local rock outfit Echo Echo was riding high while recording its full-length debut, Fall Like You’re Flying, at L.A.’s Henson Recording Studios.
They had decamped there with noted producer and engineer Alex Gibson, best known for assisting artists like David Lee Roth, Sting and Damien Rice, and also got to work with English musician and producer Rupert Hine, who has collaborated with everyone from Tina Turner and Stevie Nicks to the Fixx and Rush.
The actual recording process was a great learning experience, vocalist Steve Carson said in a recent phone interview. Echo Echo was able to fund the bigger-budget recording thanks to a couple of local investors – or what Carson jokingly refers to as a little armed robbery and extortion.
“The biggest bonus to having that budget was that it allowed us to work with Alex and Rupert, and that was just mind-blowing, but it wouldn’t have happened without some money,” he explains. “Just being able to work with a producer of Alex’s level of talent, and recording at Henson – it was all an amazing experience.
“It was also really good for morale, that we were in that situation, to be really creative with professionals in a professional environment. The downside of it all was that it did cost lots of money.”
Echo Echo ended up giving away around 1,500 copies of the disc (officially released last summer) at local shows, but Carson says the record did very well on iTunes. For its next release, however, an EP dubbed Dripping from the Undercoat, the group took a more do-it-yourself approach, as the quintet — including guitarist Jameson Burt, bassist Bruce Yolken, drummer Darren Carr and keys player Andrew Wesley — hammered out the five-track set in their Santa Ana rehearsal space and studio.
“The thing about doing it yourself is that it doesn’t cost that much money and you’re in complete control of how long it takes,” Carson says. “There’s no clock and you’re not worried about having to come up with another $2,000 because you need a few more days for mixing. Compared with spending the big dollars, you have more freedom to be creative and there’s a different vibe and sound.
“Obviously we’re not going to record an album in our studio in Santa Ana that sounds like a Henson record. But at the same time, as long as you’re doing what you do best, you’re recording the best you can and it sounds good and there’s conviction behind the message and the music, I don’t think it really matters. Especially in this day and age, I think people aren’t as crazy about like, ‘Hey, the frequency is a little weird on that second song.’ It’s more about what you’re saying.”
Since putting out the EP in January, the band has returned to writing mode, working diligently on new music as well as playing local gigs. Echo Echo can be found next performing Saturday at House of Blues Anaheim with Allensworth and Micah Brown, among others.
Some members (Burt in particular) have other solo projects to keep up with, but Carson says that since the group’s inception roughly eight years ago, they’ve been able to keep a pretty tight schedule and meet regularly for rehearsals, typically every Friday.
During its early years, they were known simply as the Steve Carson Band, its namesake recruiting friends Carr and Yolken to help fill out the sound at his live solo shows. After several gigs, it became apparent that a fourth member, a guitarist, was needed.
“We started auditioning guitar players towards the end of 2003 and it was a nightmare,” Carson recalls. “Just dudes with egos and people who said they were better than they were. We had guys come in who had great gear and looked fantastic, but they really couldn’t play.”
Through an acquaintance of Carr’s who was also a guitar teacher, Burt was recommended: “In rolls this 19-year-old, surfer-dude-looking kid, but he had just studied all of the material and learned the songs and parts. I told the guys: ‘Even if he’s amazing, let’s be cool, let’s not scare him.’”
The guys hired Burt — and 10 days later the Steve Carson Band played a show at the Gig in Hollywood. “I remember that gig like it was yesterday because I basically stood out in the alley with Jameson all night because he was too young to get into the club before we played,” Carson says. “From that point on, we were pretty hard-core, playing 56 shows a year, recording and touring.”
They began to build a solid fan base throughout Southern California while branching out to other areas, including stints in Seattle and along the East Coast. Their leader knew that the Steve Carson Band was no longer a fitting name, yet the guys were having a tough time coming up with something else.
It wasn’t until they were recording that debut at Henson Studios, however, that they finally made the switch. One night during the sessions, everyone, producers as well, wrote words on pieces of scrap paper and threw them in a pile. Then everyone drew two. One friend pulled out “echo” and “echo,” each written by a different person.
“It was by sheer coincidence,” Carson swears. “Rupert said: ‘Oh, Echo Echo — I like that.’ Basically we went, ‘OK, Echo Echo is awesome.’”
Carson says he was happy to shed his name from the band moniker: “It had been fine because we did start out as the Steve Carson Band, but it evolved fairly quickly. We knew, coming out of pre-production on that album and as we started to do some promotions for it, that we were ready to make that transition.
“Shortly after that, Andrew joined the band, which freed me up from being on the keyboard, so a lot of good changes happened. I’m happy that the name changed. (It) probably worked for a few years, but when you’re out meeting people and you perform for them and say the name of the band, they go: ‘Who’s Steve Carson?’
“Now I’m not Steve Carson of the Steve Carson Band. I’m a member of Echo Echo — and that just feels right.”
Echo Echo plays Saturday night at House of Blues Anaheim, 1530 S. Disneyland Drive, along with Allensworth, Chris Williams, Micah Brown and Nate Westerfield. Show time is 8. Tickets are $12.50.
Photo: Echo Echo in front of their Santa Ana studio. From left: bassist Bruce Yolken, drummer Darren Carr, guitarist Jameson Burt, vocalist Steve Carson and keyboardist Andrew Wesley. Photo by Gary Carson.
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