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Carter Tanton rebuilds from broken band Tulsa

Carter Tanton

Carter Tanton Credit: Carter Tanton

Five years and an eon of hype-cycles ago, a Boston-based band named Tulsa released their debut "I Was Submerged" to solid acclaim from all the right names, with influential website Pitchfork and indie tastemaker NPR both praising the tight songwriting and ringing, plaintive voice of lead singer/guitarist Carter Tanton.

All seemed well - but as too often happens, the young band faded in the face of legal issues surrounding their follow-up, and it was never released.

In the wake of Tulsa's breakup, Tanton has since emerged as a producer for Marissa Nadler, Twin Shadow and others, toured extensively with War on Drugs, and became a member of Baltimore's Lower Dens.

Late last year, he released "Freeclouds," a far-ranging collection of previously unreleased solo material that includes work from the lost Tulsa era.

amNY spoke with Tanton.

How did you go back and select the songs for "Freeclouds"? They're from all over the place. In retrospect, I wish we'd released it with more of a warning label, like "This is not a record, per se - it's more like a collection of songs from a four- or five-year span." Tulsa made one record that never came out, so I grabbed one song from that and a bunch of other songs. At the time I thought it worked, but now, in retrospect, I think it's a little all over the map, stylistically.

How did you get into home recording? When I was a teenager, I'd go over to my friend's house, and he taught me a bit about recording ... basically, how to make a record with just one microphone, a cool old compressor and a quirky board. I've always had a taste for that. I like it when records have [a] real unique sound, even if it's the result of people not knowing what they are doing.

How do you feel when someone like Dave Grohl gives a speech at the Grammys about choosing to record in his garage over an expensive studio? I'd take [Dave Grohl saying] that with a grain of salt. If I could afford a studio, I'd go to the studio ... but that costs a ton of money and takes a ton of time. The way I do my records, I'm really obsessive about detail, and I would just rack up such a bill.

If you go: Carter Tanton is performing at the Bowery Ballroom Sunday at 9 p.m., 6 Delancey St., 212-533-2111


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