Gear Tips: Coves Reveal What's Behind Their Expansive Sound

John Rigard, the co-founder of indie band Coves, introduces DINA to the JoeCo BBR 1

At DINA we've set out to discover the best in new technology for recorded and live musical performances by asking what our favourite musicians are using.


First to dish out the kind of indispensible advice we're looking for is chief composer and multi-instrumentalist of Coves, John Rigard. Coves craft moving psychedelic pop with a deep, visceral and shimmering shoegaze sound that pushes the boundaries of what’s expected from a guitar band. They came onto the scene with their hyped, chart-topping cover of Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ in 2012 and have since gone on to release their debut album, Soft Friday earlier this year. The album saw former Primal Scream producer Brendan Lynch sit in at the controls. The result is stunning and we're sure it's one of the albums of the year, in fact it's a crime it wasn't shortlisted for the Mercury Prize. 


Watch: Coves - 'Cast A Shadow' taken from their debut album Soft Friday


However, we're not with Rigard to discuss album sales; we're on opposing ends of the Thames for a phoner about gear, and are told we’re on-point: "Gear interviews are my favourite!” he enthuses.  We're equally as keen to chat about the technology behind their sound and ask how he translates their record to stage, hoping this may lead us to a piece of kit we'll want to get our hands on: "Well currently, we have live guitar, bass, and drum, but the rest of it is on backing tracks that I’ve recorded. I always hated the idea of doing that!" he says distastefully.


“But there's quite a range of synths and keyboards and different instruments, so it was either do it as a backing track, or try to employ someone and take all these synths and keyboards on the road, which would just be ridiculous. We'd look like Rick Wakeman on stage!"


“Instead we've got a thing called a JoeCo BBR 1, which is a 24 track hard disk recorder. All the keys and backing track instruments we need are on that. It just goes front of house and the drummer gets a click track.



“It’s an interesting new piece of kit. We used to use an Alexis HD 24 which does the same thing but it was just so big and heavy and we needed something lightweight. Also, it’s amazing because the JoeCo records onto flash drives."


For a band touring on a budget and in need of reliability it’s been a vital part of their set up.


“One of the reasons we bought it was for the American tour because we weren’t sure whether we would be able to hire an Alexis HD 24 over there. I was also worried about taking the caddies over with hard drives in, because they could get damaged. We bought the JoeCo because we knew we could just save everything on flash drives and we could either take our unit or buy one over there."


“The only thing with it is, because it’s quite new, you can't just name the songs, you have to learn the code just to name the songs. It's an amazing new product that's almost perfect. It needs a little bit of development. But there's virtually nothing else on the market that does what this and the Alexis HD 24 does, a 24 track recorder that plays 24 tracks live. I think a lot of people who use backing tracks just use computers but I don't really trust laptops,” he says.


There's no mistaking the agony felt losing your work on a computer and with the JoeCo, built to combat the heartbreak many have had with hard drives going awry, we agree with Rigard. For a way of incorporating your backing tracks at high quality and stress free there's no better alternative on the market.


We sense it’s only a matter of time before we see each part being played live by session and/or additional permanent memebers of the band. For now though, it appears the JoeCo is having an essential role in helping Coves get to the next stage in their career, by safely projecting their epic sound.


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Coves tour with St.Vincent in November: check their website for details