Charleston rock 'n' roll trio Rusted Revolution harnesses collaboration with a live-to-tape recording at the band's James Island home base, Fairweather Studios | Provided

Rock ‘n’ Roll Is In Short Supply, the 2021 album by the Charleston trio Rusted Revolution, was an exercise in musical opposites. On the album’s 10 tracks, bassist/singer Paul Rivers brought the straight-ahead rock and guitarist/vocalist John Haas provided a nerdy, New Wave-style counterpoint. It was a back-and-forth album, and it was obvious who wrote what.

This time around, on the new album Lo-Fi-Hi, things are quite different. The songs blend Rivers’ rock ‘n’ roll swagger and Haas’ jittery, unpredictable approach into a cohesive whole. Each songwriter is still able to express himself. Haas’ “Hold Steady” is a great example of his knotted song structures and high-tension, nasal delivery and “The Lowdown” is a perfect loping rocker for Rivers, but most often, the band fuses the different approaches into a coherent whole.

The reason for this new mixing of styles on the band’s third album is increased collaboration. Instead of bringing fully completed songs with them to their rehearsals, Rivers and Haas would bring song ideas to the table and let the band, which also includes drummer Matt Minotti, work them up into completed songs.

“With this one we would bring in a single idea and then develop it in the room,” Haas said, “and we’re writing our fourth one right now and it’s even more so that way. I think the songs benefit from that, as far as the recording process.”

Rivers added, “The interesting thing about working collaboratively is that you might have an idea, and you present it and then over time the song morphs into something else. It’s better than what was originally presented just through that collaboration process.”

One might think that it would be difficult to fuse two such different musical approaches, but Rivers said that it was actually an easy process.

“We don’t have any salacious stuff for you about bands getting in knock down fights in the studio and getting upset about the way songs are going,” he said. “John and I don’t seem to go that way when it comes to writing; John’s really easy to write with. I think sometimes we might have some minor disagreements on what songs should sound like, but we always seem to work through it and turn out a product that we’re both happy with.”

For the third time, the band worked at Fairweather Studios in Charleston with producer/engineer Omar Colon. They took what Rivers called an “old-school” approach to recording.

“We’re old guys,” Rivers said with a laugh, “so we like to rehearse the crap out of it and go into the room and play it and capture that live feel. We don’t play to a click [track], so the songs may speed up, they may slow down during the course of the tape, but we go in there as rehearsed as we possibly can, and we just crank it out. The main goal is to capture those live drums and I like to capture the bass as well, and it’s just nice having the whole band in the room together. It’s just one room and the whole band’s in there. You get a better take because it’s like playing live.”

Both Rivers and Haas have their own solo projects, and they say that they get something from Rusted Revolution that they can’t get in their own careers.

“When you’re a musician, the experience of playing with other people, cranking up the instruments and playing music is what being a musician is about,” Rivers said. “Sitting at home in front of a computer, in front of your software moving your sliders up and down, that’s a job, right? That’s not being a musician. Any true musician will tell you that the joy of being a musician comes from playing with other people.”

Haas added, “I feel exactly the same. I like to play through loud tube amps and that can’t be done on your own too easily. It’s an outlet; we get together once a week and we make noise, and you know it’s been years now that we’ve been doing it, we all work well together and know what’s expected from each other.”

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