In an era where the digital reigns supreme, the tale of SWEETHEART’s revival a refreshing narrative of raw musicianship and the unadulterated essence of post-hardcore.
Missouri’s Expert Work Records, with a keen ear for the groundbreaking, embarks on a voyage back in time to unearth SWEETHEART’s previously concealed treasures.
As the clock strikes the release on February 2, 2024, the Ohio post-hardcore scene’s sleeping giants stir, ready to unveil ‘The Unbearable Tightness Of Being,’ and the lost companion EP ‘The Process Of Making Us Well‘, marking an end to a two-decade silence.
Today, we’re honored to give you the full stream of ‘The Process of Making Us Well’, along with some precious commentary from the band.
Justin Nardy of Expert Work Records, reminiscing on the early 2000s, paints a vivid picture of a musical camaraderie rooted in genuine connection and mutual respect.
SWEETHEART, with only a self-released 7” and an EP to their name, left a legacy that was more felt than heard.
Their unreleased LP and EP, recorded amidst the raw energy of live performances and the intimate confines of a Columbus warehouse, stand as testaments to their unfiltered creativity.
‘The Process Of Making Us Well,’ a sprawling 12-minute opus, embodies the band’s journey beyond their comfort zone. Inspired by peers and propelled by a desire for dynamic complexity, SWEETHEART crafted a piece that unravels with tension and anticipation, a far cry from their earlier, more concise works.
‘The Unbearable Tightness Of Being,’ on the other hand, encapsulates the essence of the band’s musical ethos: a commitment to simplicity, authenticity, and an unyielding aversion to the superfluous. The LP’s creation, a journey from Ohio to North Hollywood and back, mirrors the band’s evolution.
The recording process, devoid of pedals, fancy cymbals, or any form of sonic pretense, was a homage to the purity of sound and the power of constraint.
However, let us delve deeper into the intricacies of this story.
In the scorching summer of 2005, SWEETHEART embarked on an ambitious recording project for “The Unbearable Tightness of Being” amidst a rigorous US tour.
Spanning approximately six weeks, with a pivotal one-week recording stint in North Hollywood, CA, the band found their sound tightening with each performance. Bryan, the driving force behind the deadline-driven schedule, believed in the motivational power of a looming deadline, even as some tracks remained unfinished and Michael found himself improvising lyrics city by city until the recording light turned red.
Greg, lacking a driver’s license, embraced the critical role of navigator, ensuring the band’s safe passage through the lengthy drives across the western United States. His vigilance was crucial, especially during a hallucination-filled drive from Idaho City to Spokane, navigating through landscapes that felt like a “creepy time machine.”
SWEETHEART adhered to a minimalist musical dogma, rejecting the use of guitar pedals, fancy cymbals, and any drum kit larger than four pieces, among other restrictions. This philosophy, inherited from their most respected predecessors, provided a framework that allowed for creative freedom within defined boundaries.
Their rejection of solos, single coil pickups, and “macho bullshit” underscored a commitment to authenticity over affectation.
“No guitar pedals. No fancy cymbals. No more than a 4-piece drum kit. No string bends. No weird tunings. only occasional Drop-D. No solos. No single coil pickups. No boring cookie cutter power chord progressions. No macho bullshit.” – says the band.
Recording took place in a North Hollywood studio, an environment shared with well-known bands like Body Count and Puddle of Mudd, which added an ironic twist to their endeavor. SWEETHEART aimed to craft something unique, diverging from the mainstream sounds echoing through the halls.
During the sessions, Ahmed sought to capture a specific sound for “Viva Eternity,” contributing a guitar line that became integral to the track’s atmosphere. This collaborative spirit saw members stepping out of their usual roles, with Ahmed contributing guitar parts and Bryan taking on the drums for certain tracks.
A mishap with Bryan’s Marshall amp, involving a makeshift fan and a short circuit, threatened to derail the recording process. However, a quick fix allowed them to proceed without further issues.
The band continued recording in shifts, allowing for breaks such as a trip to see dolphins in Santa Monica for Michael and Ahmed, while others laid down overdubs and added touches like a Rhodes piano borrowed from their friend Max Hart.
The recording saga culminated in Greg’s loft in Kent, Ohio, where Ahmed and Greg’s vocals were captured amidst the urban quiet, likely startling neighbors with their impassioned delivery.
Vince’s Aphex tube mic preamp, which broke up beautifully at just the right moment in Greg’s vocal range, was pushed to its limits to achieve a saturated sound for tracks like “Puppies Don’t Have Wheels” and “This Tour Shall Pass.”
This narrative of SWEETHEART’s recording journey for “The Unbearable Tightness Of Being” paints a portrait of a band deeply committed to their craft, embracing the challenges and serendipities of the creative process with a blend of discipline, spontaneity, and a strict adherence to their ethos.