GUITARS AND KEYBOARDS HAVE ALWAYS HAD AN UNEASY ALLIANCE—mostly because keys can devour every morsel of sonic space commanded by 6-strings. So while developing Kill Hannah’s glam-electro-hardcore-pop-rock, Dan Wiese and Jonathan Radtke have been tasked with devising mammoth guitar textures that stand their ground against samples, loops, and synths. On Until There’s Nothing Left of Us [Atlantic], the duo embraced a tactic that helped them conjure a harmonic convergence of multiple elements.
“The biggest challenge with dense instrumentation is ensuring that every texture moves the song forward,” says Wiese. “But although we spent hours picking complementary tones and chord voicings for the rhythm-guitar layers, when we overdubbed countermelodies and sweetening parts, we just played whatever we were inspired to play. Obviously, we ended up with tons of parts at the mixdown, and we had to decide which ones to keep. So what we did was make a list of our favorite records, analyze how those records sounded, and base our arrangements on specific songs. That set the bar very high, and it helped us choose which layers were appropriate. For example, we’d say, ‘This song is based on the Cure, and these parts aren’t advancing the Cure atmosphere, so let’s dump them.’”
“Having specific audio references for each song kept everyone on the same page, and focused on the sounds, moods, and production styles we wanted,” adds Radtke. “And it saved us from getting attached to any parts that didn’t serve the song.”