We recently had a chance to talk with Kevin Day, frontman for Aspiga, a band out of New Jersey. Along with Ray Solowij (drums) and Alec McVey (bass), the band created “Tense” in 2010, releasing it on digital and CD formats. Now, the album has received a vinyl pressing, courtesy of Kat Kat Records. Along with the interview, we’re actually giving away a test pressing of the record here at the site, and you can enter the contest, here.
Originally, “Tense” was released in 2010 on digital and CD formats. And now two years later, the album is finally getting the vinyl treatment. How did the whole process begin with Kat Kat Records?
When Aspiga first started, it was an acoustic project. It was pretty much just me, my guitar, and a 4-track recorder. One of my earliest shows was with an acoustic group called Trunks and Tales. Daniel, from Kat Kat, was the main songwriter for Trunks and Tales. So we’ve actually known each other for quite a few years. When we recorded “Tense,” we recorded four other songs that I had written before the full length tracks. We made a post on Facebook about re-mixing and mastering these four tracks and if anyone would have any interest in hearing those songs. Daniel sent me a message, just a few minutes later, stating that he was starting a record label and he’d love to help us out. That is how our relationship with Kat Kat Records started.
After “How I’m Not Feeling” was released, I talked to Daniel about the possibility of finally getting “Tense” out on vinyl, as it was intended. It didn’t take much convincing at all and he was on board. Our experience with Kat Kat has been nothing short of wonderful. It definitely helps that we have a very good friendship. All of our releases through Kat Kat have been a breeze. Sometimes you run into problems with disagreements on artwork, layout, vinyl color, release dates, etc., but we haven’t had any of those problems with Daniel. We get everything together, send it over to him, and he takes care of getting everything off to press, pre-orders, assembling records, and all of that stuff.
Now I would assume that you guys are vinyl fans, considering there had to be some kind of push to press an album which wasn’t brand new. How did it feel to finally see the big artwork and to hear the needle reveal your own music?
I remember we played a show in Philly a few months ago with our friends Broadcaster. After the show, we drove to Daniel’s apartment because he had just gotten the test presses for our record and the jackets. Each of us got a copy and I had a chance to listen to mine the next day. I couldn’t believe that it actually existed. When we recorded “Tense,” I really didn’t think that it would end up being pressed on LP, CD, or really have any labels involved with its release at all. I thought I would end up burning copies onto CD and handing them out at shows, mostly to friends.
This is the first time that I’ve ever had my music pressed on an LP. It definitely is special to me. I remember putting the needle down and after a few seconds in, I felt like I had climbed a mountain. We go on tour in September and it will be our first tour with the LP. I’m hoping that people like us enough to buy a copy and enjoy it.
In terms of pressing details, Kat Kat went with a “marble mixed color vinyl.” How did the colors come out and what kind of input did the band have in those minor details?
The colors came out very cool. Almost the entire pressing came out to be this mint green color. Some of records are all mint colored. We found a nice chunk of them to be a mint green/dark green split colored vinyl. The rarest color is a mint green/mushy grey split colored vinyl. I took one of those for myself haha. I think they turned out very nice. The labels look great. There is some green on the actual artwork for this release so it kind of worked out as far as matching. Maybe it’s a stretch? I don’t know, but I think it works.
The pressing of our “How I’m Not Feeling” seven-inch is split between mixed color vinyl and black. For that release, we received a variety of different colors. I thought it might end up being the same for “Tense,” but the pressing plant must have had a lot of green vinyl available. The reason we decided to go with the randomly mixed color is because United Records Pressing was running a special on LPs. 300 randomly mixed color LPs for a certain amount of money. The price was right and since this was an older release, we figured it made sense to go with this and try to save some money. The end product looks and sounds great.
How come you guys missed out on it the first time around with Solidarity?
I don’t know how to quite explain this situation. Our working relationship with Solidarity did not turn out to be ideal. I remember when we agreed to work with the label, I was beyond excited. Solidarity had some great releases in the works, including the vinyl release of The Ghost “This Is A Hospital.” That album is fantastic and I recommend readers to check it out. Anyway, a lot of the original plans that we had for “Tense” did not pan out. I was very disappointed with how things kind of unraveled. The vinyl release of “Tense” got the axe. At least, it seems that way. Again, this is something that is probably best to keep simple and let’s just say there were a bunch of communication issues involved with a bunch of the aspects of the release.
However, Solidarity does currently handle the digital distro for the album and Randy has had Aspiga involved with quite a few comps that he has put out. I do wish that things had been a little different, but it’s a learning experience. Solidarity has a pretty great roster. If you have some time, check out the following releases: Noise By Numbers “Over Leavitt,” Know Your Saints “Landmarks,” The Ghost “This Is A Hospital,” Honor System “Single File,” Four Star Alarm “The Siren Sound,” and Run, Forever “The Devil, And Death, And Me.”
On my very first listen through the digital version of the record, I kept hitting moments that I thought would just sound excellent on vinyl. As you’ve listened to the test pressings, have you encountered a noticeable sound quality difference?
When I played the test press, I instantly noticed a change in the sound. This album sounds a lot cleaner on vinyl. One of the problems that I have with the CD version is the cymbals can be a bit too piercing for my ears. The mix of this record translates a lot nicer on vinyl. Some of the backing vocals and second guitar parts shine a little more on the new version.
Again, I think that the entire album has a different listening experience with the release. A lot of different things shine in the mix, for better and for worse, haha. I know there are a few vocal parts that I wish I had cleaned up a little more. We all have to start somewhere right?
And hopefully, you guys have a good experience with the pressing. Is vinyl something you plan to incorporate even more with future releases?
Alec and I are huge vinyl nerds. Ray, recently bought himself a record player and has begun to start a nice collection. I’d like to have every release be available on vinyl. The three of us appreciate every little aspect involved with the format. For example, Alec and I looked through almost every record of Tense. We would pull them out and inspect for different streaks and just get excited over any variation. As far as future releases, we have a new seven song album recorded and it will definitely be available on vinyl. I can’t share any more details than that, but there will be a proper announcement in the upcoming weeks about all of the details.
I want to share a few things before we wrap this up: I and everyone in Aspiga, would like to extend a huge thank you to Modern Vinyl for taking the time to post this interview and run this contest. We appreciate all of the help and hope that this is just the beginning of a healthy and fun relationship with Modern Vinyl. Did everyone read that interview with Alex Kerns? That ruled!
Thanks to Daniel from Kat Kat Records, all of our friends, anyone that has purchased the record, and to anyone that has taken the time to read this article. We’ll be on tour from September 7th-21st with our friends, Broadcaster. Come out to a show!