Originally created 03/16/06

Shaun Piazza Band learns studio lessons



This St. Patrick's Day, The Shaun Piazza Band has something to celebrate.

The Augusta-based ensemble recently completed a whirlwind recording session with producer David Barbe (Son Volt, Drive-By Truckers) at his Chase Park Transduction studio in Athens, Ga.

The band will celebrate the release with a headline set Friday at The Soul Bar.

Dense and direct, the album is an amalgamation of Mr. Piazza's spare lyrical style and ability to let the musicians he surrounds himself with share the sonic responsibility.

"With this band, I feel relaxed and able to let them do their thing," Mr. Piazza said. "There's no dictating how a song should go. I trust them and just sort of let them go.

"It's a method that's really worked out too easy for me," he added with a laugh.

The band's music is an organic animal, taking on new life in front of an audience or behind the mike in a studio. Guitarist and keyboardist Noel Brown said the record reflects the band's approach to writing and performing.

"Part of that comes from the compressed recording process," he said. "It was literally a week of putting the stuff on tape and then three days to mix and master. But there's a real immediate quality to the music. It's produced and professional, but it never loses its spontaneity."

Mr. Piazza said the Chase Park sessions granted the band not only a fresh, and enormously experienced, set of ears in Mr. Barbe but also a new way of working in a studio.

A fan of analog tape, Mr. Barbe urged the band to think about doing more with less, to think about making each track and nuance count.

"I learned a lot just in my approach to recording," Mr. Piazza said. "I mean, the first time I recorded I was completely unprepared. It was a case of going in and if it seemed to sound good, well, that was it.

"With this, the approach was really on getting us to try different things. It was hard work, but the most satisfying thing I've ever done."

Distinctive in its lack of easy comparisons, The Shaun Piazza Band's current crop of tunes bears vague resemblance to Southern rock stalwarts, English indie rock, sensitive singer-songwriters and fearless musical experimenters.

Mr. Brown said that although band favorites such as Echo and the Bunnymen and U2 sometimes creep into the mix, what makes the music work is the band's desire to make something uniquely beautiful.

"I don't think Shaun's music is really referential to anything," he said. "He writes what he writes. I mean, we're all music fans, all avid record collectors. But that's not something you will, or need to, hear when we play."

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

CD release party



WHAT: Shaun Piazza CD release party, with The Shaun Piazza Band, JJ MAJ and the Unpolished Brass, The Cubists, The Decrepits and Plug-In Reindeer

WHEN: Music starts at 5 p.m. Friday

WHERE: The Soul Bar, 984 Broad St.

COST: $5

CALL: (706) 724-8880