New Jersey’s Can’t Swim are gearing up for the release of their new record Change Of Plans, out October 22nd on Pure Noise Records.
While the title of course reflects the total wreckage of 2020, it also hints at the experimentation of the new record, and the change up in the working process that came with having Will Putney behind the desk.
We caught up with guitarist Danny Rico to find out about the album, the crazy amount of gear they used, and his love of the Boss DM3!
I understand you approached the writing and recording of Change Of Plans differently to your previous records, can you tell me a little about that?
The collaboration on Change Of Plans was a little different in that we each sort of had our individual moments with demoing and/or writing. Chris would always start it off, then kinda pass it down the assembly line until we had finalized demos to bring into the studio.
And that’s another major difference with this record—it was our first time doing an LP with another producer! Will Putney produced, mixed, and mastered Change Of Plans and we couldn’t have had a better experience working with him.
Your last EP Someone Who Isn’t Me was quite experimental, what did you learn from that recording that you brought to Change Of Plans?
We did that EP with a good friend of ours, Chris Melee, who is an amazing producer and songwriter. It was sort of a random moment to try something new for the fun of it, which ultimately led to me having a bona fide lead vocal part. Despite my total insecurity about it all, I managed to have another quick little vocal bit on Change Of Plans. So I guess that’s something we brought to the LP.
What did we learn? I’m scared of singing, but will do it for a bud light.
So guitars! What did you guys use on the new record in terms of guitars/amps/pedals?
Man oh man, what amp didn’t we use.
My man Putney has got options! He’s truly a guitar wizard. His rig involves some of the classics like 5150’s and such, and a handful of boutiques, all routed to a custom cab in an iso booth that has 8 mics on it.
He then blends those mics through a dedicated mixer and prints one tone. It’s wild to see him work! He’d often tweak the pedals, gain staging, head, sometimes two heads, and the mixer, all in that order, multiple times until it was just right.
He’s a madman and it’s awesome.
I’d say about 98% of the record was tracked on one American Standard Telecaster with an Evertune Bridge. I’m fully religious about Telecasters. They’re just absolute workhorses and offer so many tones. Also, you just can’t do better than Evertune for recording.
Did you have any reference records going into the studio in terms of how you wanted the finished product to feel or sound?
Honestly, no! As it was the first time working with a producer in the traditional sense we came into the studio with openness. We really wanted to give tonal freedom to Will.
How was working with Will Putney? He’s typically known for much heavier music than Can’t Swim.
He’s the man. We were actually really excited to work with him because he does heavier music. We all grew up playing in and listening to hardcore and metal bands after all, so we really wanted more of those influences to show up on this record.
We were lucky enough to be the first band to stay and record at his new mega home studio in the woods of north NJ. I saw every animal from foxes to a bear randomly grazing outside while I shredded guitar takes.
Plus there’s a pool and jacuzzi. Paradise.
Are you a gear head at all? Any pieces of gear you’ve played recently that were a pleasant surprise? Anything you got to play that was disappointing?
I definitely geek out when it comes to production/live rigs, but for guitar gear I keep it pretty classic. Tele, stock pickups, through an AC30. Can’t go wrong.
While tracking Change Of Plans, Will Putney had just been sent a prototype fuzz pedal made by Kurt Ballou that sounded really fucking cool.
Last month I bought the cheapest all purple Kramer for one of our music videos thinking it might actually sound sick. Sadly wasn’t the case.
Is there any one piece of gear that you couldn’t do without? Anything that’s integral to your sound?
Might not be integral per se, but I’ve been carrying around a MIJ Boss DM3 for nearly two decades solely because of how good it sounds when it self-oscillates. I do it a couple times during our live set, it’s a fun bit.
A lot of guitarists are embracing modelling and profiling amps these days, especially due to making fly in gigs much easier. What’s your take on digital amps and effects?
Funny you should ask. Neural DSP semi-recently dropped their Quad Cortex floor modeler and I absolutely jumped onboard 110%.
The “capture” technology is easily the best profiling I’ve ever heard, in addition to lots of great built in modeling.
It’s such a crazy powerful piece of gear and easily a game changer for amp sims going forward—especially for a debut product! I’ve spent the last couple of weeks programming the whole Can’t Swim live set on it, so now we have all guitars, including bass, going through one Quad Cortex. No amps!
I’m so confident with how good it sounds that I’m looking forward to never lugging an amp from trailer to stage ever again.
I think the future of amp sims is a super legit and an eventual path. Like everything else at first it’s an expensive niche for the top dogs, but soon enough the technology will be so advanced and accessible that it’s commonplace.
Obviously real amps have their place! But amp sims for the logistics of touring just dominates.
For someone who’s just discovering your band and wants to hear more music that sounds like you, what bands would you suggest they start with?
Not sure, but I think if you like mid 2000’s emo you’ll probably like us too?
If someone maybe wasn’t familiar with you guys but wanted to learn to play one of your songs, where would you suggest they start? Any riffs/licks/passages in particular that are fun to play, or maybe challenging but rewarding for more advanced players?
For starter’s I’d say our song Prick is super fun and pretty easy to play. Challenging? There’s a full on blues rock mini-solo on Set The Room Ablaze that’s a ripper.
What’s up next for the band? Should we expect to see you on the road for the record any time soon?
Tour! Can’t wait to get back to it. We’re doing a US run supporting Silverstein for Fall 2021. It’ll be our first time playing since Covid ruined everything. Possibly a headliner next Spring!