Let’s face it: 2020 has been a downer of a year for music. Not only have we lost Neil Peart and Eddie Van Halen, but live music has been one of many casualties of the pandemic. Like many artists who are juggling a desire to create and share new music with fans, Swarm of Eyes has been working on recording new material
The same quintet you know and love — vocalist Randy Carter, guitarists George O’Connor and Derrik Albertelli, bassist Jeff Grossman, and drummer Tommy Burke — have been making the most of the world’s lull in the action by creating new music and reinterpreting fan favorites. The band recently took to the studio to re-record “Turn Back to Light.”
Re-Recording “Turn Back to Light”
One of the newer additions to Swarm of Eyes’ live shows (Live shows! Remember those?!), “Turn Back to Light” was released as a single in late 2019. Fast-forward to 2020 and the Eyes guys are shaking off the dust, writing and practicing new material, and plotting a course for a brand new album. For now, they’re starting slow, taking a familiar song from their catalog and reinterpreting it.
Much like a daytime soap opera and Jesus Christ (insert obligatory Type O Negative-inspired “Jesus Christ looks like Randy” quip) , this isn’t the first time Swarm of Eyes has performed a resurrection.
Previously, the band re-recorded one of their signature songs, “Humanemic,” for their 2017 EP, We Go To War With the Weapons We Have. The song originally appeared on their debut album, Designing the Dystopia, and was recorded before drummer Tommy Burke and bassist Jeff Grossman joined the band. The new-and-improved “Humanemic” let the Eyes’ rhythm section put their stamp on the song, preserving a slice of the band’s live dynamic for posterity.
Working With “New” Producer, Mac Ritchey
For the new re-recording of “Turn Back to Light,” producer Mac Ritchey is in the control booth, steering the ship. Liner notes junkies and longtime fans of several of the Eyes’ guys former bands may recognize Ritchey as the production mastermind behind Motokops 2000’s album, Only Pieces Remain. While MK2K and Swarm of Eyes vocalist Randy Carter had worked with Mac Ritchey before, the rest of the band finally got a taste of working with the producer.
“What Mac brings is a LOT of experience, a VERY trained musical ear, and an eagerness to collaborate and create,” noted Carter. “He likes a challenge.”
A musician’s producer, Mac Ritchey has worked with a diverse range of artists spanning the gamut from metal to folk and adult contemporary. The common denominator is that Ritchey has a reputation for working with passionate, highly trained musicians and has an appreciation for the subtleties of not just a given genre, but for the intricacies of sound unique to each artist. It doesn’t hurt that the man makes his own stringed instruments, too.
“He’s so good at working in Pro Tools and editing it’s actually stunning,” continued Carter. He left everyone in the room amazed and singing his praises. He’s also just the nicest, most upbeat, sweetheart of a guy.”
Swarm of Eyes: Celebrating 10 Years of Live Shows in 2021
Re-recording “Turn Back to Light” with Mac Ritchey is just the first step in the band’s march toward 2021. In addition to being any year that’s NOT 2020, 2021 is special because it marks 10 years of Swarm of Eyes playing live shows together as a fully-fledged five-member band. The group hopes to mark the occasion with fresh material to satiate fans hungering for heavy music.
“The plan is to have a whole new EP of songs and a brand new set to play live once venues open back up, sometime next year,” observed Carter.
While 2020 has been pretty damn abysmal, there’s a “Light” at the end of the tunnel — at least in the form of new Swarm of Eyes music on the horizon and the promise of live shows when fans and bands can safely return to clubs and concert halls. For now, it’s all about mining the time spent in solitude to create something together.