The Love Letters release a debut effort with help from a New Pornographer | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Love Letters release a debut effort with help from a New Pornographer

"I mentioned to him how I'd heard one of their songs in a University of Phoenix commercial."

Mike Shanley has long been a New Pornographers fan; he knew from the get-go that he wanted to incorporate influences from the group into his current band, The Love Letters, but he didn't know just how direct those influences would be. In fact, New Pornos multi-instrumentalist John Collins ended up having a very direct hand in The Love Letters' debut double-7-inch.

"I interviewed him about a year before [Love Letters] got together," Shanley, a frequent CP contributor, explains. "And I mentioned to him how I'd heard one of [The New Pornographers'] songs in a University of Phoenix commercial. ‘The Bleeding Heart Show,' my favorite song! He said he remixed that song for the commercial, emailed it to the production company and, like, 24 hours later he heard it on TV.

"I was thinking, if he could do that for a commercial, I wonder if he ever does that for bands?"

He does: After some quick email back-and-forth, Collins agreed to mix The Love Letters single (which is the first half of what then became the double-7-inch).

click to enlarge The love letters band
Photo courtesy of Carolyn Ivanusic
The Love Letters

The first two songs on the release were recorded at Machine Age Studios and produced long-distance by Collins.

Soon after Collins committed to do the job, singer and songwriting contributor Aimee DeFoe left The Love Letters — but at that point, there was no turning back. Shanley, guitarist Buck Knauer and drummer Erin Dawes continued as a three-piece (they're now joined by second guitarist Mike Prosser), and DeFoe appears on the record. (She'll rejoin the band for its record-release show at Club Café on Jan. 31.)

Collins never met with the band in person, but he fit the mixing sessions into his schedule as a musician and producer. ("I felt kind of close to [The New Pornographers'] latest album, because he was traveling from Vancouver to Woodstock, N.Y., a lot for recording, and trying to squeeze our tracks in, too," Shanley notes.) The subsequent two tracks were recorded with the help of Dave Cerminara, also at Machine Age, and making the whole thing seamless was a focus. "We worked a lot on the other two to make sure they weren't lackluster in comparison."

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