Sunday, December 21, 2014


The Sound

‘This is what Cirrus Minor really is’

5/29/2013

Cirrus Minor’s CD-release events are Saturday, June 1 at Wooly’s.

Cirrus Minor’s CD-release events are Saturday, June 1 at Wooly’s.

Cirrus Minor is about as complete a band as you could wish for in a local scene. One could argue that there are bands around that do this or that specific thing better, but you’re not likely to find anyone willing to argue that any band in town does everything quite as well as this one. And now that it has added drummer Joe Corbin to the mix, the consensus within the band is that this is Cirrus Minor, fully realized.

“(Adding Joe) has been night and day,” said guitarist Mike Ruby. “Joe’s added such a different style of drumming.”

“The differences from the last album to this new one are huge,” added keyboardist Rich Cantrell. “It’s edgier.”

That new album, “The Division of Space,” drops this weekend at Wooly’s in a two-show event. For Cirrus Minor, the album is the culmination of three months of dedicated crafting. And when you’re a band with as diverse a sound as Cirrus Minor, the song creation process can lead you in interesting directions.

DM Art Center

“We’ll start with someone — usually me — who’ll go, ‘Yeah, but let’s do this!’ ” Ruby explained. “And then Ogre (bassist Aaron Lea) will go, ‘I don’t like it.’ Then (we’ll ) argue about it for 45 minutes until Rich and Joe go, ‘Are you frickin’ serious?’ ”

“Or we’ll all come at an idea at once with four different directions,” Lea added. “And we find that we can’t decide on just one, that we have to incorporate all of them, and next thing you know a song’s eight minutes long.”

“Then we get into the studio, and whoever’s producing will go, ‘You guys know this song is the length of two songs, right?’ ” Ruby said. “And we’ll go, ‘Yeah, yeah, we planned it that way.’ ”

All of that time and planned chaos has resulted in an effort that Ruby calls “the best album he’s been a part of.” Most of the recording was down in the East Village’s Audio Aggregate, and the biggest difference listeners will hear between this and the previous album comes from the transition from analogue to digital recording.

“Dustin Miller (at Audio Aggregate) used amazing amounts of technology to produce this album for us,” Lea said. “All virtual amps and virtual effects, all digital drum set and all of the sounds are just clean and tight as you can get.

“Using the digital amps just gives you so much flexibility. You can go back and forth on a song, from a real modern, crunchy sound to a vintage Marshall lead tone if you wanted to. Being able to go back and forth, without switching out amps, and re-sound-checking and all that, is great.”

“You can go through tons of different amps to get just the sound you want,” Ruby concurred.

And it’s that perfection of sound that was most important to the band this time around. “The Division of Space” wasn’t about just getting an album to hang on the merchandise table.

“We specifically had (this album) in mind to be shopped out to labels, so we wanted a product that they could just grab and sell,” Lea said. “People think that labels listen for potential. That’s not the case. They want something they can sell now. So we pushed and pushed to get it sounding as professional as possible.”

And while much of the credit for that finished sound goes to Audio Aggregate’s work, the other three members of Cirrus Minor keep coming back to one thing.

“Joe being involved in the band played a big part,” said Cantrell. “This is what evolved from that.”

“This (album) is us saying, ‘Hey, this is what Cirrus Minor really is,’ ” concluded Ruby. “With Joe, it feels complete.” CV

Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines.