It took 11 months of toil in Popejoy Hall, but for four UNM students, putting out their debut album ‘do it yourself’-style was worth it.
Great States frontman and guitarist Morgan Ching said the process started during finals week of May 2013 and finished in January of this year.
“We did a lot of the live drum tracking, a lot of the live guitar tracking, some vocal stuff, but a lot of the instrumental tracking we did at UNM in the basement,” Ching said.
Ryan Rael, the band’s drummer, said the group also recorded tracks in locations outside of UNM.
“When we weren’t at UNM, (we went) wherever we could try and get the best sound possible,” he said. “That meant sometimes vocal booths being closets or shoving amps into closets,” he said.
Ching said the quartet wanted to avoid major record labels for their album.
“What we’re most proud of about this record is that we did it all ourselves,” Ching said. “It’s a completely DIY record.”
Ching said the record was recorded using proprietary recording technology and that the group was originally going to record a three-song E.P.
Eric Jecklin, a jazz studies major who plays bass for Great States, said he recalls how he felt during the 11-month recording period.
“We had a lot of sleepless nights because of this record,” Jecklin said, “a lot of hard work put in.”
The record, called “Gatsby,” was released on April 12 for an oversold record release show at the Outpost, with family, friends and total strangers in attendance.
“It was just an all-around amazing time, and it felt really good after the 11 months of hard work and blood, sweat and tears that we put into this record,” Ching said.
He said it is not easy for a group to release an album independently, when time and money are scarce.
Ching and Jecklin formed Great States in 2010 with two other friends. While at UNM they recruited Rael and keyboardist Sean Leston after the two other members left.
Ching and Rael both come from backgrounds of playing in school bands. Jecklin said he started playing trombone in the fourth grade before picking up bass in his middle school jazz band. Leston, an English/sociology double major, was classically trained on the piano at age five.
“My parents always wanted to learn how to play the piano,” he said. “Since I was a baby there was just an upright in my house and I took a liking to it.”