I was blown away by the quality of the studio, the location, and just the majestic energy that lives and breathes at Pachyderm Studio.
We are talking to musician Gregg Hall and producer Chad Staehly about the new album Echoes in the Treetops, we chat about the writing process, recording at the famous Pachyderm Recording Studio, and what’s coming up for these musical inclined locals. We also touch on their involvement in the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival and Chad’s updates from the La Crosse Distilling Company.
Brent Hanifl 01:54
Talking to Gregg Hall and Chad Staley, lifelong touring musicians, producers, album makers, family men and collaborators in the community from Moon Tunes, fundraisers, events, and much more. But we’re here to talk about the album Echoes in the Treetops. So Gregg, you know, just knowing you for you know, based on my whole life playing music around the area. What was your point in you know, going from Gregg Hall and the Wrecking Ball to making this a solo album, you know, your different iterations of bands, what led you to this sort of this solo piece?
Gregg Hall 02:27
Oh, you know, I kind of wanted to expand, you know, broaden my horizons a little bit break out of the La Crosse scene, if you will, and try to do something a little bit more. I don’t want to use the word professional, but just a little bit out of my comfort zone. So I picked Pachyderm. I had seen there so many other artists seem to be gravitating toward that studio. So I figured and then I got to help Matt Pootis make a record there too. And I was just blown away by the quality of the studio, the location, and just you know, in the majestic energy that lives and breathes at Pachyderm Studios having such artists like Nirvana, and some of these bigger names, record some classic albums there. So I figured it would be a good place to try to go a different direction. Because you know that I love the country thing too. But, you know, I’m not real genre focused in one specific area of music, and I like to showcase all of what I’ve got. And it’s not just in a country realm.
Brent Hanifl 03:33
So Chad, how did you get in the mix? I know, just from following along with you on social media, you seem to be recording at that studio, pretty much at least monthly, it seems like.
Chad Saley 03:45
Yeah, well, you know, I think Gregg reached out to me, and I think I could color it in, too, a little bit further as to why Gregg went this route. He called me early on in the process. It seemed you were kind of going through some life changes, Gregg. I mean, I think as artists were always going through life changes and trying to capture those life changes into the form of art. Right. So Gregg had called and brought that to my attention and said, yeah, I’m writing some songs. And, you know, but really enjoying, I was working as producer on the Mat Pootis album to up at Pachyderm. And Gregg said, you know, I think I’d like to record my next project up there, and started to tell me a little bit about what he had been dealing with in life stuff. And, you know, he had some blues songs. And he was also writing like some of these songwriter but also kind of rock classic rock songs, too, that really caught my attention. I feel like rock and roll has kind of fallen by the wayside again, and kind of needs a revolution and in a renaissance and a reckoning again, and I thought Gregg was on a path towards writing some songs that could do that and So we kind of as we were conversing made a decision to start focusing more on the songwriter and rock and roll songs and move the blues songs over to the side and maybe save those for another project. And I think that’s kind of one of the jobs a record producer has, you know, converse and hang out with the artist and find out what what they’re kind of what they’re inching towards in their creative mind and creative space.
Brent Hanifl 05:26
We were just talking before we hit record about Nirvana and the way that album is recorded with their unplugged version. Then also having the ability to record at Pachyderm Recording Studios. What was that process like for you, Gregg, working in such a well known studio?
Gregg Hall 05:44
Oh, for me, it’s like, you really got to bring your A game. And like I mentioned before, bringing me out of my comfort zone of whatever that looks like. And I’m really getting down to business, you know, and hiring somebody of Chad’s caliber. At hiring a studio at that caliber. It’s like, well, here it is, man, put on your big boy pants, let’s roll and let’s, let’s be as pro as we can possibly be in and get stuff done. It was a challenge for me to really step up my game as a musician, songwriter, and producer, collaborator in the studio as well. So it was good for me to to boost my confidence up, try to get into that next level of being a musician or whatever you want to call it. I figured I needed to get to that next level, whatever that may be. I needed to make a record like this. Produced by Chad, and at the professional studio, maybe just to turn a few heads that I might not have been turning before
Brent Hanifl 06:44
Talking a lot about this studio, just to just have some history with it. Chad, you’ve recorded a number of albums there. Is it just because of the location to La Crosse or why do you why do you pick that location recording?
Chad Saley 06:56
Well certainly had, you know, moved here to La Crosse about four years ago, had lived around Denver in the front range of Colorado for 20 some years and of course had a ton of great studios at our fingertips there. Spent quite a bit of time at Bob Weir, The Grateful Dead’s TRI studio out on the west coast so certainly have gotten a glimpse into certain things that make a great studio and had read a lot about Pachyderm prior to moving to the area. And then shortly after I moved here, Adam Gruel from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades asked me to produce the latest Horseshoes and Hand Grenades album up there. And that was my first experience there. And really, Doug Nick, who runs the studio and also as the house engineer, the space is amazing. It’s on a chunk of private land. Outside of Cannon Falls, there’s a house everybody can stay at, which is, I think, lends itself really well to focus and concentration on the tasks and work at hand. And it’s inspiring, you know, and there’s great vintage equipment there. This was mostly tracked and recorded in an analogue fashion, some digital post production, but most of it was recorded in an analogue fashion, which adds a warmth to it. I think something that maybe a casual listener might not pick up on, you know, sonically but I think it’s kind of like your favorite blanket to get underneath you know, on the couch while you’re watching TV and that studio provides this so in first and foremost. It’s just an inspiring space it’s, there’s a certain magical quality to it, despite it you know, falling into disrepair several times in its history, it’s got a really wild history behind it. It started out as a party house I believe for a big corporate ExAC and then was turned into a studio and then fell into total disrepair and then was renovated and restored to become the great place and recording studio it is now again.
Brent Hanifl 09:08
Was there a moment that stuck out for you guys in particular with recording Echoes in the Treetops?
Gregg Hall 09:14
Um, for me the one song that I think I like the most of that album and to me means the most is the cardinal song. Trying to explore my those rock and roll roots Brent, you know, like we had in high school like Led Zeppelin. And you know, like Love Withstands, too, that almost kind of Pearl Jammy rock sound. I mean that I can sure I can say all three of us, you know, being products of the 90s, 80s, or whatever, you know, and the rise of grunge and rock and roll and trying to maybe get back to my roots to where I mean, I feel like I built my whole songwriting, composing musical experience on those early 90s bands. So trying to get back to that feeling again, when you first started playing music, and I feel that’s what that album means to me. Like, I know I’m saying this a lot. But getting back to my roots, and where I grew up on musically, feels, you know, pretty good. Where I’m at halfway through my life, getting back to that, where it all started. It’s a really warm feeling.
Chad Saley 10:47
The Cardinal song is definitely the also where I felt that that same, like alright, this is a core piece to what we’re doing here over this weekend. It kind of felt like it tied the whole room together, you know, it had this rock element, but there’s, there’s acoustic guitars that are driving it, and Malin was playing these big bombastic rock drums to that. And that’s part of what’s great about Pachyderm, too, in terms of how the studio is laid out. Gregg can be in an isolation room with his acoustic guitar and singing and Malin is in the big room, they can see each other but we’re isolating them and getting quality sonics while also being able to combine these two kind of opposites of acoustic guitars and big bombastic rock drums. So it also that song lent itself to the power of Pachyderm.
Brent Hanifl 11:40
So people will be able to check out the album on another project you guys are kind of working on simultaneously is the La Crosse Winter Roots Festival, which is coming up in February at the new ballroom at La Crosse Center. Gregg you’re playing and also Chad, you partnered to bring in La Crosse Distilling Company for the VIP ticket holders. You guys are brewing beer all sorts of stuff happening. Can you tell us about that a little bit?
Chad Saley 12:04
Yeah, I can speak from the La Crosse Distilling Company’s side. First of all it’s really exciting to see the La Crosse Center and in its newest, best form. And the fact that they’re trying to put on some events like this that are kind of locally curated and celebrating some of the great things La Crosse has to offer. So I think that’s really exciting to see the 2.0 La Crosse Center moving towards some events like that. Yeah, we’re excited with the distillery to be a part of it. You know, first and foremost, we distill organic spirits there. But we’ve also been brewing beer now more seriously for the last year or two. And Brent and my brother Chalbot hooked up and started conspiring about that. And yeah, we’ve made a black lager for this event called Barbara Godsey Black Lager Ale, which will be fun to release specially just to that event. And hopefully for the coming years, we’ll keep making that beer and we’ve kind of created this mythological creature behind it to help celebrate some really cool La Crosse things.
Brent Hanifl 13:11
And Cheech, what can people expect from you, is this show gonna rock?
Gregg Hall 13:15
It’s gonna rock. I got the Wrecking Ball, which is more of my country band, but we’re gonna incorporate a couple of the new songs into it. We’re planning to do some collaborating with Reed Grimm as well. So it’s gonna be a rockin show, you know, and all the bands and Tugg, Dan Sabranek. And Trippin Billies from Chicago, correct? And the Remainders. I mean, that’s a lot of heavy hitters in the La Crosse community, musically, and, you know, business wise, with Chad, and you and Jay and everybody coming together to really do something cool, and maybe promote the idea of other big shows that we can do at this new remodeled space of the La Crosse Center. So I’m really looking forward to being a part of its beginning, if you will.
Brent Hanifl 14:04
When does the album come out?
Gregg Hall 14:06
Well we’re gonna have a CD release April 15th. At the main, just we’re working out the details right now. But it should be up and running here by hopefully by the end of the day.
Brent Hanifl 14:17
Is there anything else coming up for you guys that you’re excited about?
Gregg Hall 14:20
Deecefest will be July, July 29th through the 31st for doing that again, 2022. We got some lot of good local names on there. The Crush Brothers we are bringing them back that’s Reed Grimm and Heatbox and a couple of guys from the Woo and Alex Steel and you know a lot of the good local bands that we have every year. So looking forward to that.
Chad Saley 14:43
Yeah, I just got off the phone with the executive director of the Moses Conference, Tom Manly, which will be another event at the end of February. If people out there listening haven’t ever attended a Moses Conference, it’s the largest organic farming conference in I think in the world pretty amazing that we get to host us in our backyard and La Crosse distilling company has been a sponsor of that in the past and will continue to do so. Then I also got off the phone with Adam Gruel from Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. It appears they’re going to be playing a show at the Cavalier on the Saturday night, February 26th of the Moses Conference at the Cav. And we’re gonna sponsor that show and do a special discount for Moses attendees on ticket price. The High Hawks Abandon Plan we’ll be back in the Midwest. Our last tour in December got cut a little short. Our fiddle player Tim Carbone from Railroad Earth tested positive while we were out on the road for COVID. And we had to bag the Wausau show. So we rescheduled our Wausau show for March 5th, at the Grand Theatre and I think the night before we’re gonna be down in Madison playing at the High Noon after Billy Strings Show at the Sylvie so kind of a post party deal going on. And there’s gonna be lots of other stuff happening. So yeah, just you know, trying to get out and be normal amidst total abnormality in the world. So and music is a big part of that, you know, and if we can keep live music going in a safe way and keep people safe. I think it’s one of the best things we can do for the humans.
Brent Hanifl 15:49
For the humans. So coming up February 12th went to Roots Festival people check that out at lacrosselocal.com. Cheech, where are they headed to for pickup on your album?
Gregg Hall 16:37
We got some records out at it’s La Crosse, Trempealeau Hotel, Def Ear Records, Tree Huggers Co Op. You can go on my dsproductions.com has records, CDs and 21 different merch stuff promoting everything that’s me, so. And Gregg Hall Music is also available too. And that’s getting revamped by Jim Farley. And that should be up and running to hopefully in the next week or so. So you’ll be able to go there. So gregghallmusic.com, dsproductions.com.
Brent Hanifl 17:07
How many URLs do we need, and you too, Chad, you got to name every single one of your bands you’re in.
Chad Saley 17:13
We won’t do that to everybody. But if they Google the High Hawks or Hardworking Americans or Great American Taxi or La Crosse Distilling Company. You know, whatever. If you’re in any of that it’s out there. It can be found.
Amy Gabay 17:34
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