It has been more two years since I last spoke to Brian Hudson about his music. This past February, Hudson released his latest album, Comfort Quest. In addition to discussing the challenges of recording this new album, Hudson opened up about moving to New Orleans and the impact the change in surroundings has had on the singer/songwriter’s music.
Tim O’Shea: What was the biggest challenge to recording this new collection of songs?
Brian Hudson: There were so many challenges. The album was in Austin unfinished when I moved to New Orleans. So finishing it meant driving back to Texas for long stretches to work on the project and making the money through gigs to pay for the project simultaneously.
The fiddle and piano tracks I recorded myself with my own rig in Los Angeles were plagued with glitchy poppy sounds and I spent days trying to find a technological solution. Ultimately I found a miracle plug-in called Izotope which is able to bandage badly damaged audio.
Also, making a record on the budget while challenging by nature also can yield some interesting results. For example, Nigel Frye who played bass on the record wanted to add bongos. We tried to rent some, but the rentables were no good, and I couldn’t be buying drums just for one track.
So we rummaged around the studio and stumbled on a slit drum that’s normally played with mallets. Nigel started whacking on it with his fingers and we all thought it sounded really nice… so that slit drum ended up being our bongos on Food Stamp Party.
What prompted the album title, Comfort Quest?
This album is all about the twin ideas of safety and adventure that are forced to live unhappily together in my heart. I think I was depressed when I had the idea for the title.
How upset were you when you realized the tracks recorded in California were riddled with popping sounds?
I thought they would be easier to fix than they turned out to be. So I wasn’t upset enough… but I believed someone somewhere had written some code that would solve my problem. It was just a matter of finding the right piece of software (called Izotope) for the job.
Almost all of the songs are written by you, but Where’s My Wallet? was co-written with Hudson Mueller–how did that song come about?
Hudson was my musical partner for about eight years. When we were together, we would come up with absurd song ideas and then one of us would follow through to write it.
The core idea for “Where’s My Wallet?” was born when Hudson and I were at the coffee shop finishing a business meeting and I couldn’t find my keys.
There’s a variety of backing vocalists on this album, what qualities do you most appreciate when you include backing vocals on your songs?
I knew I wanted Jacob Jaeger to sing on my album for the same reason I wanted any other musician to play on the it: because he’s an excellent player. Marshall already had the job of guitar playing so I didn’t want to weigh him down with singing duty as well… but he ended up doing a fine job singing some back ups too.
Several different musicians appear on the album, can you speak about some of them and what value they added to the collaboration?
The big difference between this album and my last one is the appearance of other musicians. The core band members were Marshall Hood, Nigel Frye, and Mark Evans. Together we rehearsed and recorded the basic tracks together. Everything else was added in later. So those guys had the most freedom to shape the music and so that’s what they did. Marshall was responsible for the “Food Stamp Party” sounding kind of like a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. Nigel is responsible for the groove on “The Guy from Stories Read to Kids at Night.”
What inspired the song The Song from Stories Read to Kids at Night?
I was trying to write a song that my girlfriend at-the-time would like.
A few of the cuts include violins and a baby grand, how critical was it to have those to achieve the right sound for the songs?
The violin was critical to fill out the canned country motif we aimed for on “Lonely as Balls”. It was probably less critical as a rhythmic instrument on “Modern Man.” The baby grand seemed critical on Emily but probably could have been supplanted by some other keyboard on “Modern Man”. And it’s even less critical on “The Guy from Stories Read to Kids at Night.” Just my opinion…
What do you most enjoy about busking in New Orleans –as you document in many posts on your Tumblr?
Busking has been my way into the new city. Through it, I’ve come into contact with other working musicians and music fans alike. Also, it keeps my chops fresh.
Anything we should discuss that I forgot to ask you about?
Thanks again for doing this interview and your continued support of my music.