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True Gold: Shining In The Studio.

May 29, 2013

TrueGoldTryptychText by Brian Wilensky. Images by Michael Bucher.

True Gold is a South Philadelphia-based, space-gazing, fuzz-rocker band unafraid of putting in the studio time and stage hours to get the sound they want and their message across just right.

Guitarist and singer Michael Kappeler works at Swarthmore College, which is what gave the band the opportunity to record a batch of songs at the school’s radio station, WSRN. The band recorded tracks for their forthcoming LP themselves.

“It’s an interesting process recording it yourself,” Kappeler says. “At times you have to separate yourself from the project and not get hyper-focused on very minute details. That can draw it out. You start trying to fix things that don’t need to be.”

TureGoldSmall02Kappeler describes the vocals from that session as being worked onto the record in sweat lodge conditions. When he was recording them, he wouldn’t stop until he had exactly what he was looking for. But that sort of obsessive persistence is what has made his vocal contribution spot-on.

He also showcases an unexpectedly high register on the songs available on True Gold’s Bandcamp page.

“There’s a juxtaposition of the songs’ vocals too,” he says about his light-as-a-feather vocals paired the the songs’ heavier guitar riffs. “When there are parts with heavier guitars, the songs have a chance to go in a completely different direction when the vocals are a bit different. It’s just the way they came out and the way I feel most comfortable singing.”

The contrast between Kappeler’s singing and the composition of their music is apparent. The orbital guitar of “Undulate,” which Kappeler says is about encountering something that is not okay with you personally but accepting it and doing something different, matches the way the shoegazey bridge leads itself into the resonating. “Final Fantasy” is about a personal triumph Kappeler had and the musical buildup as the song progresses says exactly that. And that’s what True Gold’s focus is on.

“The song’s story isn’t as important, as long as the feeling matches its presentation,” Kappeler says. “I’m not delusional enough to think anyone would want to hear about what I am actually feeling.”

The way the members of True Gold present themselves live is set apart from what is found on recordings. Drummer Joe Idell says vocals have always been more of an auxiliary instrument and more of a garnish. Which is why Kappeler and bassist Matt Taylor are more inclined to sing with a bit more aggression live, not worrying about nailing all of Kappeler’s delicately layered harmonies.

When it came time to perfect their songs to record them, they simply decided to slow them down. According to Idell, three songs that will appear on their forthcoming release, expected to hit the streets in April, were simply slowed down from the original tempo they were written at to find the way the songs sound best.

“Slowing them down really invigorated them,” Idell says. Slower tempos allow the music to breath more, especially in front of crowds.

Guitarist Danny Tarng says of his bandmates, “It feels great to get lost in what they’re doing and lock in with each other.”

The band isn’t afraid to extend some of the open-ended parts of their songs but they forewarn that they are not a jam band.

True Gold may not be completely polished live but when it comes to their records, they will not hesitate — in fact, will not stop — until it’s gleaming just right.

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