by: Thomas D. Mooney
“I think Dave and I are about to LeBron James this shit.”–Paul Cauthen
Paul Cauthen was just finishing up a song when I gave him a rang late last week. I imagine that’s almost certainly always the case for Cauthen and David Beck, his partner in crime–or maybe more fitting, his Dwyane Wade.
In this case, Cauthen’s recently penned song, titled “Almost There,” is as Cauthen called it, a “reap what you sow type of song.” Seems almost biographical in a way for Cauthen and Beck. There’s without a doubt, been a lot of hard work put into their craft as musicians.
Sons of Fathers’ self-titled debut album, which came out last year, was a collection of twangy, foot-stomping, honest songs. Part folk, part country, part rock’n’roll, all genuine American music. Talking with Cauthen and Beck, you get the impression that while they’re proud of “Sons of Fathers,” they are already ready for their sophomore album, “Big Diamond Waltz” to release. I got the feeling they were both wanting to say, “If you thought our first record was great, wait to you get a load of this one.”
And I’m not doubting it one bit. With some bands, you just can tell they’re just scratching the surface of not only their talent, but what they’re wanting to do creatively. Sons of Fathers is one of them.
Furthermore, Cauthen and Beck aren’t just wanting to known as great songwriters, but in addition, great producers–something that not just anyone can do. As they both mention, you’ve got to have ears to be great producers. It’s commodity that Cauthen and Beck both possess.
What’s interesting and amazing in all this is that Cauthen and Beck haven’t been writing, playing, and producing together for a decade or anything. Sons of Fathers is still a very new project. As Beck said, “we just hit puberty with this record.”
Just imagine when they bust into adulthood.
New Slang: First off, you guys are a songwriting and producing team. How’s that going for you guys?
Paul Cauthen: Makes our job a lot easier. Makes it a lot easier when you have two brains on something. As long as you get a long, that’s the big deal. Usually, when you have two artists who are producers, they don’t get along. It’s easy for them to butt heads. David and I, we’ve got a real good flow and that’s what makes it go easy in the studio I think.
David Beck: Yeah. One idea can spin off another idea and hearing something you wouldn’t normally think of.
PC: Yeah. I mean, we’re producing other people’s records a lot–and our last record, we produced it ourselves. And really, I think it’s harder to produce ourselves, but gaining all this experience producing others really helped. There were times when we were first producing, where he had to figure out how each other worked. Everybody’s boundaries. David is more knowledgable in gear and all the studio stuff. I’m kind of in searching for sounds within and finding cool sounds. I help him with that. It’s kind of cool. I didn’t know shit until I met David. I didn’t know much about the studio. Now, I can come close to running my own section. Without David, I wouldn’t be where I’m production wise. But, I’ve got ears and that’s what makes us really flow.
DB: Ear is really the most important part in this business. I know tons of people who have gone to school for it and done all kinds of crazy stuff, but none of that means anything.
NS: You guys, you’re a couple of real young guys producing. Typically in the business, producers are guys who have been in the business 10+ years. You feel people have been respecting you as producers so far? Know what I mean?
PC: For sure.
DB: Yeah, I’ve never really thought about it that much. We’ve just been working a bunch. We keep a really busy schedule here in the studio. If we’re home, we’re here at least three or four days a week.
PC: I think that if you put out a good product, whether you produced or played on it, there’s a level of respect that goes along with it. I think we’re lucky to be at a level we’re at as young as we are. I feel not cocky, but very confident in our abilities as producers with the people who are 50 or 40 years old and have been doing it 20 or 30 years. David and I can hold any conversation with anyone in this business on any level. That’s what’s cool.
NS: You’ve mentioned that you’ve been working on the second album. How do you guys feel it’s going to be compared to the first album–as far as sound and growth goes?
DB: Moving forward.
PC: Moving forward [laughs]. Big time.
DB: When we did the first record, me and Paul, we basically wrote a bunch of songs and then put a band together and went into the studio. For this one, we’ve been playing these songs out live and been playing with the same people. We’ve kind of grown and really play as a unit and band well. That’s a big difference. I feel we’re more comfortable and working together better musically.
PC: Yeah. It’s cool, you know? We actually had time to build parts. Everybody was comfortable in the studio and not having to be under a time frame. We had a lot more time this go around. We did it to tape.
DB: The first one, we did it in four days. This one, we had 10 days in the studio and as much time as we wanted at our personal studio. So we were able to really work on each song. For example, on the first record, we pretty much used the same drum set up. Everything was the same. The same exact mic set up. This one, we got to change each drum sound accordingly to fit each song as opposed to it being flat across the board.
PC: Lot of different drums. This time around–it’s wild. Like a 180 degree turn as far as sound. Big, big low end bass drum sounds are huge. The vocals are ripping. Everything is just bigger, fatter, and warmer this go around.
DB: And less safe too.
PC: Yeah. Less safe. Hell, me and Dave produced it.
DB: The safety is off on this record [laughs].
NS: [Laughs] That’s really good to hear. I really feel that with bands, that second album is probably the most important. That’s where you want to see the most growth as a band in sound and style. It’s really a sign for how a band will be their entire career in my opinion.
PC: Oh yeah.
DB: We just hit puberty with this album [laughs].
NS: Going back to that first album, I felt there was a certain something–I can’t exactly put my finger on it–but a certain twang and feel throughout the album that made great and made me want to hear more of what you guys were doing. It was catchy, but it wasn’t poppy and syrupy.
PC: Yeah. It’s our own sound. It’s not pop, but it’s catchy enough to be pop. Pop is a good thing. Pop means popular. Pop gets a bad rap, but nothing would be cooler than to be on Billboard and do all those things. Obviously, it’s changed because music has changed. We’ve gone through some weird stages of what’s hot and what’s not.
NS: A lot of those songs, you can tell they’d be great songs no matter how you’re playing them. They could just be acoustic guitar and vocals and be strong songs. But, you guys really add a lot of ascent sounds to them that just make them better. What goes into knowing what you’re wanting to add?
PC: Well you know, Dave and I don’t sit back and say, “OK, we need a song with a fiddle on it. Let’s do that now.” We always start with either a piano or an acoustic guitar. Then when we start getting into melodic melody, the melody can dictate what instruments you can use. Like if you’ve got a really pretty melody, keys or violin would be gorgeous on this part. Or if we want to be hardcore, rip into a ribbon mic and add some dirty vocal sounds, double up on the electric guitar, and make the kick drum floppy and fat. It all depends on the emotion and feel and what direction we want to take it.
DB: Yeah, we don’t plan any of it.
PC: Yeah. It just comes. You don’t have to choose. It just comes itself.