Reviewing At Our Expense’s recent EP release and residency

by Isabel Evangelista (Staff Writer) – 4/23/15

Guitarist Daniel Santamaria as he concentrates on his performance at the White Oak
Guitarist Daniel Santamaria as he concentrates on his performance at the White Oak

To showcase their love for music, local band At Our Expense hosted a month long residency at the White Oak Music and Arts, consisting of weekly performances every Sunday for the month of February, with their concluding show commemorating the release of their new EP, Awake. Through the enthusiastic performances they displayed every week, it’s evident that the band pours their heart into every performance and song that they release.

Engineered and mixed by producer Zachary Tuch, the creation of the band’s EP consisted of vigorous recording sessions where the processes differed for each member of the band and is completed in a specific order. “It was our first time working with Zach. He brought a lot of new elements to the recording process along with great producing ideas. We were able to work with rare microphones and unique equipment that made the process fun,” recalls Kennedy 2008 alumni and vocalist Andres “Andy” Argueta.

The drums serve as the base layer whilst recording, and as the recordings advance, the bass, guitars, and vocals are blended in to finalize the song. “For this EP we focused on writing songs that were less complicated. We really wanted to simplify our songs and keep them catchy but aggressive. We recently changed timings, and that sound really came through on this recording; we got a lot more warmth and color out of our guitars this time around,” clarifies bassist Emory Mugalian.

Kennedy ‘07 graduate and lead guitarist of At Our Expense, Daniel “Danny” Santamaria described the process of recording an EP as “a little tedious at times,” but interesting when seeing the songs develop as each layer is added onto to the track. “You hear the subtleties of the song that are sometimes hard to hear when you’re rehearsing in a room and everything is turned up,” noted Santamaria.

As far as vocal recordings go, Argueta reveals that they “are kept into consideration when first writing the music, but the vocals are usually the last layer added to the songs.”  Prior to heading into the studio, vocalists Angel Carmona and Argueta prepared through weeks of practice and vocal warm ups before resting their voices for two days. “…we completely rest in order to go in feeling strong and rested for the continuous vocal recordings we do,” explains Argueta.

Awake is made up of three tracks: “Awake”, “Long Lost”, and “The Fear of Ending Up Alone.” All the lyrics derive from what goes on in the lives of the band members and the events that had a significant effect on them.

Upon the first listen of the EP, the songs appear to have a different sound in comparison to what listeners would be used to expecting from At Our Expense. Though it is slightly slower paced and is a little less heavy than what the band usually composes, it has a smoother and cleaner sound. Through memorable choruses and guitar riffs, the band’s latest release paves a new, yet intriguing road for themselves.
With the creation of Awake lasting from late December to mid-January, the process of creating an EP eventually led up to the release of the EP during the final show of the band’s month long residency. “Once we realized where the shows and recording fell into place, it was only natural to have the residency lead up to the release,” admits Santamaria. “It was a real honor to be asked to do it, especially the first one. John McRary, a local promoter, and the White Oak definitely showed a lot of belief in us, and we can’t thank them enough for it.”

Throughout the month, bands from genres of experimental indie to metalcore hit the stage to open up for At Our Expense. “…We tried to come up with set lists that fit with the bands that were playing with us that night, and we played one of our new songs each week until we played all of them on the last night. A few nights we also did some acoustic stuff, and that’s always fun too,” commented Mugalian.

Immersed in the hype of the performance, it was plain to see that the audience loved to see the band as much as the band loved to play for them. With a crowd that grew as each week passed, including many recurring audience members, the last night of the residency concluded with nearly an entire audience singing the lyrics of the band’s songs. It was evident to the members of At Our Expense that their fanbase consisted of “amazing, passionate people.” Santamaria dedicates the success of the residency to the audience stating, “We were beyond honored and humbled that we were given this opportunity and that people really responded well. It was very validating to see that.”

The men of At Our Expense prove that hard work definitely pays off with the deliverance of their latest EP, Awake, and a month long residency immediately following afterwards. They show that they’re capable of putting as much heart and passion when they make music as they do when performing it, if not, twice as much. Awake is available on iTunes, Spotify, and Bandcamp, along with the rest of the band’s discography. At Our Expense’s next show will be at Bridgetown DIY in La Puente on April 24th.