For Something Beautiful, the first Oleander album in eight years, guitarist Rich Mouser wanted an aggressive combination of hard-edged guitars and layered vocals.
Judging by the evidence presented, his idea of a dense production meets both requirements — and more.
Mouser has worked on the production end of Oleander projects from the very beginning. But it wasn’t until the band returned from an extended hiatus that Mouser was asked to become a full-time member. Together with guitarist and founding member Ric Ivanisevich, Oleander now possesses a powerful one-two guitar attack.
The band is gearing up for a Midwestern tour with Three Doors Down and Daughtry before returning to the West Coast to do some shows of their own. I spoke with Ivanisevich and Mouser about the new album.
GUITAR WORLD: Why did the band decide to take an extended hiatus?
IVANISEVICH: We had spent a lot of time on the road and just decided it was time for a break. Some of the guys in the band have families and wanted to spend time to raise them. Then a few years ago, Tom called us up and asked about doing another record. By then it was just me, Doug [Eldridge, bass[ and Tom [Flowers, vocals].
MOUSER: I wasn't originally in the band at the time; I produced the band up until they took time off to be with their families. When they decided to come back together to start writing, they asked if I'd like to get more involved and become a full on member.
IVANISEVICH: Rich had always been a silent member of the band. He produced all of our albums (except the first one) and is such a great guitar player. It made perfect sense.
What was the writing process like for Something Beautiful?
IVANISEVICH: What's great is that everyone in the band co-writes, so there are always volumes of ideas. What happens is someone will have an idea and bring it to the rest of the guys. Since Tom and Rich live in Southern California and the rest of us live in Northern California, we'll schedule time to get together in Rich's studio. How did you approach recording the guitars for the album?MOUSER: I've always liked blending Marshalls and Boogies. I have a Marshall JMP from 1979, and that was a big part of this record. I put it through an old Echoplex EP4 I used as a front-end gain. It gives what I like to call the "motorcycle effect." For the clean sounds, I used a 1964 Vox AC30.How did the title track originate?MOUSER: That’s an interesting story. We were getting toward the end of recording but had this feeling there was still one more song out there. So the guys started sending ideas down from Sacramento, but nothing was really lining up. That's when I pulled out the demo. It was originally a song I had co-written several years ago. I showed it to Scott Stevens, who ran with it and wrote new lyrics and melody.What about the concept for the song's video?IVANISEVICH: Doug was the one who came up with the concept. He had this idea of us making fun of ourselves. We rented a bunch of costumes and shot the video in LA. The guy who is our "producer" in the video is actually a friend who recently started acting. We gave him a rough idea of what we wanted and he improvised. It worked out so well that when the record was released, we actually had him come up on stage and introduce us while in character [laughs].How did Oleander come together?IVANISEVICH: I was working on several different projects at the time when Tom and Doug approached me about forming a new band together. Once I started playing with them, I quickly realized how much I liked working with them, so I dumped the other projects.What's your set up like for touring?MOUSER: For this tour with Daughtry, I'll be bringing my '79 JMP, which is totally stock and my ES 347 Gibson. My pedal board consists of a few basic things — a Vox wah that I like, a Boss Overdrive (DS1), which works with my amp as well as a compressor and delay. I'd love to bring the Echoplex, but I don't trust it on the road. There's too much charm in that thing to be hauling it around. The first thing I like to run through is a 10-band EQ. It lets you boost the frequencies you want before the signal gets to pedal or head. Does it make a difference?It really does. A friend of mine was the guitar tech for Tom Scholtz (Boston). One night, the band was playing in town and he brought me in during the day to see the setup. I remember walking over to Scholtz's area and seeing that he had the exact same MXR Blue 10 band first in line and I'm thinking, "Yeah, he's got the tone!” It just works.For more about Oleander, visit the band's official website and Facebook page.James Wood is a writer, musician and self-proclaimed metalhead who maintains his own website, GoJimmyGo.net. His articles and interviews are written on a variety of topics with passion and humor. You can follow him on Twitter @JimEWood.