A dream turned real
Arden Park Roots talks to SN&R about an idyllic month spent recording Pipe Dreams
Sacramento, CA 95814
For Arden Park Roots’ third album, the bros (Tyler Campbell, vocals and rhythm guitar; Johnny Snickerpippitz, drums; Nick Ledoux, guitar; and Spencer Murphy, bass) turned a dream into reality: They got to record with super-producer Scott Matthews (Elvis Costello, Keith Richards, Roy Orbison, Joey Ramone). After an idyllic month of working in Matthews’ Mill Valley studio, APR emerged with the aptly titled Pipe Dreams, a rock/reggae album that resonates with deep bass tones, crisp horns and stony-ass California vibes. Campbell shared details with SN&R.
Tell me about recording with Scott Matthews.
We spent a month in the Bay Area, living in this mansion, commuting 14 minutes a day across the Golden Gate Bridge to this studio. It turned out to be the most amazing month of anybody’s lives—waking up with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge every morning. And we had this massive producer who would be our fifth set of ears. He didn’t chime in much as we would write, but when it came time to record, he had a lot of game-changers. For example, we left the studio on a Thursday, and he told us to take Friday and Monday off. When we came back on Tuesday, he had added something like eight different instruments to the record. It was just a fucking massive experience.
What is different about this album?
One of the main things (if I could jump straight to vocals) would be a lot less processing. [Matthews] forced me to come out of my reverb addiction. In previous albums, I’ve pushed for a lot of reverb, a lot of delay. I love that sound, that echo, but he sat me down and said, “You’ve got a killer voice. Why hide it with all this shit?”
I think my favorite song is “One.” It’s a good mix of rock, punk and ska. Kind of Operation Ivy-ish.
And it was totally written in a nontraditional way. We were out at our studio in Elk Grove, and Nick [the guitarist] was playing this drum beat on Johnny’s electric drum kit and I was already sitting at the board fucking with a different song. So I just opened up a new file and said, “Nick, keep playing that,” and recorded him for about a minute. And then I looped it. I could hear Spencer [the bass player] playing the guitar. I was like, “Oh, shit, Spence, come over and lay down that little guitar riff.” Before we knew it, we just had this clusterfuck of musical chairs. I didn’t have lyrics for it yet, so … basically I stole some lyrics from a Tupac song, and we recorded it right then and there.
What kind of influences did you draw from on this album?
I would say there were less influences on this record. On album two we tried so many different things. We went Muse-ish in a couple of songs; we went perhaps a little Red Hot Chili Peppers-ish in a couple of songs—and I can’t really speak for everybody on that, but I feel like the second record had a touch of eight to 10 major recording artists in terms of style. It was all over the place. On this record, I can’t name a specific influence.
I can’t believe you didn’t say Sublime.
Well, I mean … obviously, everybody’s influenced by Sublime. If you play reggae/rock, you’re influenced by Sublime. And then you can go ahead and identify any other influences. We do the Sublime tribute when we’re on the road. That’s kind of how I’m able to book shows so far away and in new venues. Nobody knows who the fuck Arden Park Roots is in Billings, Montana.
Does that give you a kind of “partyin’ bro” kind of audience?
Yeah, I mean, the last year or so we’ve been mixing and matching a lot. We don’t go on stage as Arden Park Roots and go off stage and come back as the Sublime tribute. We just play the whole night as Arden Park Roots and throw in two Sublime songs here and there.
How do you get your accent?
Like, the accent! The super-reggae accent. Do you even notice that?
Yeah, I get what you’re saying. It’s that laid-back, reggae, accent type-deal. I guess it has to do with the melody of the song. Basically, when a song is presented to me for the first time and it’s written by somebody else … I’ll just start to brainstorm melodies. And there’s a term that we coined … we call it “fliggle giggle.” So, basically, I’ll approach a track with my fliggle giggles and, for example, on “Pipe Dreams” there’s a shitload of syllables, so it started out as just “Ackanibidanabidoa dino ma dee!” It’s not even words. I’ve never been asked that question before … so that’s about the best answer I have.
No, Teddy Briggs from Appetite said pretty much the same thing about how he comes up with lyrics.
I think that’s one of the most common ways people write. I could be wrong about that, but it seems to be the most logical way to write a song. When a song comes out, you can tell right away what it should be written about, like, “OK, this is a happy song, I’m not going to write it about, fucking … something sad.”
The title of your album is Pipe Dreams, but you don’t really strike me as a stoner dude. Are you a weed smoker?
I am a weed enthusiast and have been for a long time. I’m not a diehard stoner. In fact, I haven’t smoked weed in the last eight months. I do go through periods of life where I smoke a lot, and I go through periods where I don’t smoke at all. The title Pipe Dreams is exactly what it says it is. Basically, you’re just chasing a dream. It’s a pipe dream, but it can become a reality. Everybody liked it—except for my dad.
What did he say?
He doesn’t like the terminology because it’s too closely related to opium pipes and this and that. He kind of felt like it was pushing away a certain demographic. I was like, “C’mon Dad, the name of our second album was No Regrets in the Garden of Weeden, and it had a fucking egret on the cover smoking a fucking joint.”
Ha! Did he like that?
He loved it! Everybody loved it. Even my dad.