Calling all new wave nerds: you’re guaranteed to fall in love with Glass Chapel, a synth-heavy post-punk act hailing from Jacksonville. The trio, made up of Jake Phillips, Angela Sitzler and Nick Phitides, cites influence by punk acts of today, like Soft Kill, and yesterday, such as The Cure.
Glass Chapel has released a slew of singles and remixes this year, including “Foreign Rain,” a cut that sounds straight out of the mid-1980s. “For ‘Foreign Rain,’” says vocalist and guitarist Jake Phillips, “we were really inspired by synth pop tracks like ‘Fade to Grey‘ by Visage and a lot of Cold Cave.”
The synth landscape in “Foreign Rain” has nice variety: sparkly trills in the verses pair well with a classically bright ’80s sound. The droning, soft vocals are instrumental, and the single is anchored by enormous, reverb-heavy claps. A chorus-addled bass, which rips through the synth like a Peter Hook bass line in a New Order track, is the last thing we hear on the song.
I spoke with Phillips about the gear Glass Chapel used to record Foreign Rain.
Glass Chapel Gear Essentials
Elektron Digitakt The Digitakt is such a great sampler/midi controller and the perfect drummer for us. I created all the drum tracks on this and then recorded everything into Logic. It’s even been thrown off Angela’s synth stand during a show and doesn’t have a scratch on it. Talk about great gear!
Roland Alpha Juno 1 The Alpha Juno is responsible for most of the synth sounds on the track. It can be a little hard to program because of the workflow, but once you figure that out, it’s an amazing-sounding vintage analog synth. We played it through an Alesis Midiverb II for reverb.
ASM Hydrasynth We were looking for something to really cut through the mix and sound interesting for the main lead, and the Hydrasynth was perfect. The stereo panning comes from the built-in effects, and we thought it sounded really interesting. We play it live and it never fails.
Death by Audio Echo Master The Echo Master is the perfect preamp and delay for vocals. This, compression, and EQ is pretty much all I used for vocals on the track.
Foreign Rain was inspired by being in love. The song revolves around the feeling of the end of loneliness when you meet the right person for you.
Synth Beyond the Sound
The look and feel of vintage synthesizers really inspired the sound as well. Having such great sound design tools really enhance the creative process when you have everything at your fingertips. The synths will kind of lead the way in the creative process when you find the right sound. I think it’s best to let things flow naturally and not try to force riffs and lyrics.
Playing Bass Like a Guitarist
I always like the idea of using instruments in ways they aren’t supposed to be used. That was the inspiration for the bass lead at the end of Foreign Rain. Nick already kind of plays bass with a guitarist’s mindset and constantly finds really great-sounding lines that would work just as well on guitar. So with that and some inspiration from Peter Hook, it was a no brainer to include a bass lead at the end.