It was about 10 years ago, after I left the cyber-pop band Otto’s Daughter, that I started to put together a solo-project that would eventually become Afflicted By Design. There were 2 simple goals: to write songs that were influenced by my favorite goth, industrial and metal bands; and to record and perform these songs with my friends from the New York goth, industrial and metal scenes. But, just as I started up I got sidetracked starting another band and working as a freelance bass player for several other bands.
Fast-forward 10 years and I’m living in Austin, TX and my time with all those different bands have run their course, I have a mountain of songs and I finally launched my solo project, now called Afflicted By Design. While I’m still figuring out the live band, I asked my friends Michael Carrasquillo, Pete Collins and Skunk Manhattan to record the first Afflicted By Design release, the Ep #nameless.
It was very important to me that #nameless sound as much like it was performed by a live band as possible, and that it sound like a collaboration. Especially after a dozen years of playing music that was edited, quantized and locked to a grid. With Pete and Michael being in different states, all the synth parts composed by hand, and that I had already recorded and played most the parts myself, this wasn’t easy. The long-distance part was easy. I have been doing that for years with several other projects. The hard part was breaking old habits and letting the live performances happen, and not edit and quantize a great take.
The electronic drums were performed live and some notes tweaked by hand for any fixing, and live drum samples got us the live drum sound. Even though the drums were recorded MIDI and edited by hand, they were not quantized and not locked to the grid. This made it possible to record all the guitars, bass and vocals against a live drum performance. All guitars, bass and vocals were recorded in single takes with punches to address fixes. Again, there was no editing and quantizing instruments and no Autotune to fix vocals.
Continuing to make Afflicted By Design and #nameless sound and feel like a band and a collaboration I asked Michael Carrasquillo, Pete Collins and Skunk Manhattan to create new parts that they thought fit the song best or to incorporate my original parts into their own, or to perform my parts better.
I gave Mike, Pete and Skunk demo versions of the songs with all the original guitars, bass, drums, synths and loops broken out in stems to work with, and let them go to town. Each person contributed something cool and unique to themselves to the arrangement making #nameless sound like a real, live, band album.
– S.A. Sebastian Gnolfo