Even though Matt Skiba is supposed to be singing the praises of his new album with Alkaline Trio, the prolific punk songwriter is clearly excited about the record he’s recording with his side project.
The Hell is a band he founded a couple of years back with former Angels & Airwaves drummer Atom Willard. The fact that he fields this call from the studio is proof that he’s clearly not very good at sitting still.
“If I’m not recording something I’m painting something or making a mess of some kind somewhere,” Skiba begins.
“But I love what I do and I have access to a beautiful studio and beautiful friends to make music with. You know with this new Hell record what we’re doing is a total studio piece. So it’s been a lot of fun.”
The beautiful studio is Studio 606, which Dave Grohl moved from his basement in Virginia to Los Angeles and is topped off with the Neve soundboard featured in the Sound City documentary. “It’s the same board, it’s a different location but it’s very similar to Sound City minus the personnel and the bong on the console,” Skiba adds.
The new Hell record follows on from My Shame Is True, Alkaline Trio’s ninth album recorded in Colorado’s The Blasting Room with producer Bill Stevenson - a dream come true for Skiba, who grew up worshipping everything Stevenson laid his hands on, be it Black Flag, the Descendents or All.
“Yes, sir, it was really an honour,” Skiba says. “Descendents and Black Flag are my two favourite bands. I grew up playing drums so he was always my hero as a drummer, and he’s such a great songwriter. He wrote a lot of the really catchy poppy Descendents stuff, and all the All hits. Bill wrote all that stuff, and he’s a shredding guitar player and killer producer, and a killer guy. He’s a mentor but also a really good friend.”
Already thinking ahead to Alkaline Trio’s next album, Skiba says he’d like to record with band mates Dan Andriano (bass) and Derek Grant (drums) in a similar fashion to the way the Hell operate.
“We all live in three different cities and we don’t really have time to mess around,” Skiba says.
“Maybe next time we make a record I would like to do it that way because the way we’re doing it here at 606, we’re building something from the ground up and doing it together, it’s really neat. And I have that relationship with my (Hell) bandmates you just don’t have unless you have the convenience of being in the same place.”