What is your name and role within Suit of Lights?
My name is Joe Darone. Suit of Lights is the name I’ve recorded under for the last 15 years, with various friends. I write and sing the songs, and play keys.
Where are you currently based?
New York City
What’s been happening recently and how has your Covid experience been so far?
This year I was focused on getting the record out – come hell or high water – but I realized that trying to release an album during a pandemic is a bit absurd, right?
Like, let’s keep this in the proper perspective. It’s not that important in the overall scheme of things.
It’s Suit of Lights 15th anniversary, how does it feel to hit this milestone and how has SOL evolved over the years?
It’s an odd feeling, the records are a kind of cataloguing of ideas and emotions and it’s interesting to look back and see – not everything is pretty! But I’d say the main evolution from the first album to the latest album is the level of sophistication in writing and arrangements.
Your new album ‘Hide and Seek’ is out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting?
Well, the idea is that it’s an album of games. From the birth song “Tag!” to the death song “Ring of Roses” and various adventures and follies in-between. I like adventurous music, so groups like Sparks and Cardiacs are heavy influences.
How did you go about writing the album?
“Hide and Seek” was the first song I wrote, about the nature of existence. It seemed like adventure theme-music, the beginning of something.
I started thinking about the overlap in games we play as both children and adults. Titles like “Rock Paper Scissors” and “Tug of War” were just begging to be written.
Where and when did you record/produce and who with?
I produced the album, and it was recorded in several locations.
We recorded Chris Connors’ guitars, plus bass and horns at Concrete Sound, his studio in Brooklyn. Arun’s guitars were done at Rebirth Music, his studio in Austin, TX. Vocals and keys were done at my place in Hoboken, NJ. and we tracked drums and mixed with Jeff Aderman at Big Blue North in Utica, NY.
Oh, and we have an Australia connection – It was mastered at Surgical Sound in Tasmania by Dr. Timo G. Less!
How did you approach the recording process and what did you find most challenging and rewarding?
I aways start with home demos, which become the foundation to record all the real tracks in the studio, but in the past I was always on a budget and watching the clock, so there were always ideas that didn’t make it onto the album. This time, I bought a Neumann U87ai microphone and a Neve Portico 5017, and I went to town on vocal harmonies, doing my best Beach Boys impression.
What programs/instruments did you use?
The drums were recorded in analog using the CLASP system, which stands for Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor. Basically you’re hitting analog tape in real time. Vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys, and trumpet were done in Logic Pro X.
The album is available for $1.50, where can we listen/purchase?
Limited edition LP, CD and downloads are at www.suitoflights.com
It’s also available on Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube
Who are you listening to at the moment?
New Lemon Twigs album, Weyes Blood, Ruby Roses, and I just discovered a band called A Formal Horse.
What do you like to do away from music?
I’ve actually been catching up on reading. Just read autobiographies by Elvis Costello, Christopher Hitchens and Bob Lazar. I’d like to get back to drawing and painting at some point.
Trevor Dunn, Steve Pedulla, and Jamie Egan have all played on previous albums, how do you decide who you are going to work with and how does the collaborative process usually take place?
It’s usually just by chance. From the beginning, there was no set lineup or anything, Arun and I were splitting up everything between the two of us. Then, we started bringing in some of our friends. I didn’t know Trevor personally, I was just a huge Mr. Bungle fan, so I sent him some demos and he was interested.
Everyone on Hide and Seek has played on previous SOL albums, except the trumpet player David Levy (Norah Jones, Deep Purple), he was a friend of Chris Connors. Oh, and Evan Hooker from Ruby Roses and Arun’s kids Ruby and Hugo sang some backups.
You were in the band The Fiendz, how have you developed as a musician and person since?
Well, the first Fiendz single came out when I was 15. So we were literally growing up in that band, immature and not great with communication. Add in a little bit of success and failure and it eventually became toxic. I’d like to think that I’ve matured in the decades since then.
Musically, I’ve always played by ear so in terms of learning actual music theory, it’s been a very slow process. You can play punk rock drums without knowing any theory, but playing keys kinda forces you into it.
What’s planned for the remainder of 2020 going into 2021?
Our record has just hit radio and debuted at #30 most added on the NACC charts, which is pretty great. I’m really curious to see how COVID plays out in the states, it’s an embarrassing mess and tough to make plans too far ahead.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
I love spicy food! Indian, Nashville hot chicken, and Jamaican Jerk. I have about 20 different hot sauces in my fridge.
I like hanging out in coffee shops.