Smith records at the Rialto Room

Smith records at the Rialto Room

Posted: Thursday, June 03, 2010

Corey Smith admits he isn’t much of a visionary, and that holds true to his first impressions of the Rialto Room when it was being built.

But once he saw the finished product and played a show there, he saw much more than just an intimate concert venue.

He saw potential. He saw the recording studio for his next album.

Recently, that’s exactly what the basement of Hotel Indigo became. Sound-proof partitions and computers replaced chairs. Microphones hung everywhere, the man at the controls in the back making sure they didn’t overpower each other.

“Everything you need is right here,” Smith said before he started a fourth day of recording last week. “It’s the perfect place to record a record.”

Smith and company went from the room to their hotel rooms to the bar, restaurant and back. They were making a record like they’ve never made.

“All of our rooms are all upstairs, so myself, the musicians and the crew are all here,” Smith said. “It really feels like camp. It really helps us stay focused on what we’re doing.”

Smith didn’t know last month he was going to make an album, much less record one in a room usually reserved for small concerts. His last release, “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” debuted in November, so there wasn’t a whole lot of turnaround time.

Still, Smith had an arsenal of new songs ready to go and took a liking to the Rialto Room the moment he first saw it finished. The pieces just fell into place, he said.

“I toured the complex when it was under construction, but I’m not much of a visionary,” Smith said. “I couldn’t really imagine what was going to be here. Then there it was, a reality.

“It made me think of the way the songs come to life and the records come to life.”

There isn’t a better-sounding room in Athens, Smith said, especially for live recordings. That’s the kind of sound he wanted to follow up “Keeping Up with the Joneses,” which was more produced than any other album he had made.

“The last album was the first one where I had the resources I thought I needed to make it,” he said. “There were a lot of possibilities and freedom. In the end, I realized some of the shortcomings of it.

“What was missing is a great band in the room playing. What I wanted to do on this record is capture the (live) performance.”

So that’s what Smith has done, first with five live recording days with the band and then two private shows over the weekend. Overdubbing and layering are minimal. Energy is everywhere.

The electric and acoustic guitars, piano and organ, drums and upright bass all play off each other, creating a few beautiful accidents that could only happen with the band playing all at once.

“There’s been those moments while we were playing when we knew we captured lightning in a bottle,” Smith said.

Smith won’t have much time now to tinker with the album. He’s back on tour for the next few months, including a stop in Alpharetta at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater with Colt Ford and Will Hoge on July 17.

This album project has a name – “The Rialto Sessions” – but no release date yet.

Smith is sure that when it is ready for release, it will be a little different than everything else he’s done. And that’s a good thing, he said.

“It’s a continuation of the learning process,” he said. “I’ve never made a record like this, but I’m really excited.”

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