Hell Of A Thing Interviews: Michael Rault

We live in an Apollonian period. What that means, in laymen’s terms, is that we’re referential to material that came before us. That’s not a bad thing though, Apollonian periods are important in that they are times when we can tweak prior material to perfection or turn it into something we can call our own. Such is the case of singer/songwriter, Michael Rault. While Rault may be a new name to some listener’s, he’s already created a sound that feels familiar and yet, brand new. Taking flavors from the 70’s production style and mixing it with 60’s instrumentation, the Toronto musician has molded a classic way to express millennial sentiment. Hell of a Thing recently got to do an email interview with Rault where we talked about Burger Records, Gibson guitars, and his upcoming album.

Hell of a Thing: So, how are you doing today?

Michael Rault: I’m doing alright, thanks for asking.

HoaT: I saw on your social media that you’re recording a new album, how is that coming?

MR: It’s coming along well. I’m almost done now – recording strings and final overdubs next month, then mixing shortly after that and it will be finished. It has been a long time coming, and I’m happy to say it is almost finally done.

HoaT: There’s a timeless tone to your music. Would you say you’re trying to do something that is classic rock-revival or merely referencing older bands?

Etsy-Road-Trip-Michael-Rault-Toronto
Courtesy of Sidewalk Hustle

MR: I am generally trying to mix modern and classic references. Or, at least I am not one to try to follow some sort of code or set of rules for making classic records. I definitely am drawn to classic tones, and I have an affinity for 70’s recording qualities, and I enjoy musicianship, which often seems like a specifically classic quality. But, I could see myself mixing more genres and eras at some point.

HoaT: Speaking of timeless music, you’ve done a lot of work with Burger Records, a label indie-rockers like to obsess over (and for good reason). What has been your overall experience with them and do you plan on doing more under their banner?

MR: Yeah, I did a cassette single and an LP with Burger and I consider myself very lucky to have had the chance to do that. It definitely was the break that let me get into the US a bit. I got to dip my toes in down there because of them. I’m not sure if I will continue to work with them in the future, but I would hope to again, in some capacity in the future. They are great people running that label, doing a lot of cool things.

HoaT: We could sit around and talk favorite bands all day but do you take influence from anything outside of music?

MR: I try to take in influence from everywhere. I think, to write songs that aren’t overly derivative you need to grab ideas from all over, and be thinking about concepts as much as possible. Musically, I try to absorb as much new musical knowledge and ideas as I can about arranging and composing from all the records I like, but for lyrics you need to be writing from personal experience or from influences outside of music more often than not. Whether that is books you read, or news articles, or movies or just something you hear someone say on the street.

HoaT: What role does your physical surroundings play in your music?

MR: It’s usually a limitation. It’s hard to find spaces where you can make the noise necessary to make records. Conventional jam spaces are usually too crappy sounding and too loud from other bands around you to be able to make records, and apartments generally aren’t good for playing through amps or playing drums. I’ve been recording my new album at Daptone in Brooklyn, and there the physical surroundings provide a more positive influence. A nice sounding room, and a decently well treated mixing and monitoring situation makes all the difference in the world. It’s hard to always be trying to listen through all the bad sounds in home demos to decide if your new ideas are any good.

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Courtesy of Small Venue Photos

HoaT: Are there any elements you avoid when writing or recording new material?

MR: No, not really. No hard rules anyways. I try to make it sound good and feel good, and I would say I have grown more and more open minded and opened up my pallet and broadened my bag of tricks. I’ve been working at making records and everything that goes with it relatively seriously for around 13 years now, so I find I have to embrace different ideas and approaches to keep it fresh and interesting.

HoaT: What is your favorite piece of equipment?

MR: Probably my 60’s (I think it’s ’67) Gibson 335, which is actually my Dad’s, but I have had it to use for a long time. I also have a 60’s Heathkit Fuzz that I just bought and have enjoyed using on my new album a lot. And, I just bought a beater Wurlitzer that I love playing – it needs work, though.

HoaT: What is one book recommendation, movie recommendation, and one album recommendation you have for our readers?

MR: Book: Ken Kesey – Sometimes A Great Notion, Movie: The Third Man, Album: Alice Coltrane – Universal Consciousness.

HoaT: What are your plans for the rest of 2017?

MR: Finish this album, release it, then probably get out on the road again. Also try to keep the ball rolling and start writing, demoing and rehearsing my next album sooner than later.

HoaT: Anything else you’d like to plug?

MR: Not really, just keep an eye out for my new stuff when it comes out, if you are so inclined.

Click here to watch the video for Too All My Friends.

– By Mike Metcalf

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