Young Widows Talk About Recording in a Funeral Home, and Why Experimentation is Necessary

An unusual recording environment helps add mystique and character to a record. Nine Inch Nails made The Downward Spiral in the Beverly Hills house where the Sharon Tate murders happened. Bon Iver fans have that great visual of Justin Vernon recording For Emma, Forever Ago in a Wisconsin cabin. In a move that's similarly striking, Young Widows recorded the recent In and Out of Youth and Lightness, their third full-length, at The Funeral Home in the group's hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. That name wasn't picked just because it sounds cool, it's a studio run by Wax Fang's Kevin Ratterman and located on the second level of Ratterman Funeral Home — an actual, active mortuary. During the making of the record, Widows' members were given quizzical looks by funeral-goers who were outside smoking. Any temporary awkwardness was certainly worth it, though, as In and Out is a hell of a record, driven by a gloriously raw sound. On Friday, Widows bring that album's abyss-gazing noise rock to Thee Parkside for a date with My Disco, Hides, and Name, so we pinned singer Evan Patterson down for a quick chat.

You've talked a lot about how much you enjoyed the comfort of recording In and Out in The Funeral Home. Are there any other environments you'd really like to record in?

A long time ago, we [referring to Breather Resist, Patterson's old band] played a college in Madison, Wisconsin, and there was a room [in which we] were setting up our gear before we played. That room was one of the best sounding rooms for drums I've ever heard and it always sticks out in my mind so well. It was all brick walls and behind where we were set up [were] glass windows. The sound reflection almost had a V shape. It wouldn't be practical for a whole band to play in that room but just [the sound of the] drums alone was unreal.

There are things like that where you're in a certain room or maybe even onstage and you think about how great it sounds. I always love finding [places] like that and possibly documenting it from there. It's kind of what we did with [2008's] Old Wounds.

A room for recording drums is the most important thing. Beyond that, it's all about being comfortable and being able to get into your own headspace. There's an awesome church [St. John in Louisville] I've been wanting to record drums in or do something with [its] huge hall. I've recorded in studio environments that are leather couches and top of the line gear and soundproofing — futuristic shit that's completely useless. But when you're in a place like The Funeral Home and there's a blanket on the wall behind the drums and a couch half fallen apart in one room and two old empty couches and broken furniture in another room, it's a little more relaxed and settling. That's what I really loved about that place: there's plenty of options for places to go within the studio rather than just being trapped in one or two rooms.

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