Apart from being Jack White's last band before the White Stripes, the Go are best known for their throwback musical tendencies and near peerless vintage pop palette. Okay, maybe some folks still fuss over their high-drama feud with Sub Pop but, otherwise, it's all about all things non-contemporary where the Go—vocalist Bobby Harlow, guitarists John Krautner and James McConnell, and drummer Marc Fellis—are concerned.
Their new album, Howl on the Haunted Beat You Ride, wasn't merely influenced by golden oldies—it was recorded under the loving supervision of one. Even more important to the band's latest opus than the Go's love for the Who and the Stones is a retired General Motors worker named Richard Bowen, who let the band record in his basement. A family friend of Krautner's since childhood, Bowen became a huge fan of the band and, subsequently, let them record Howl in his Detroit home.
"He is hearing-impaired, sharp as a tack, and he's 92 years old," explains Krautner. "We were in his home at all hours of the day, practicing and recording, simply because he was not bothered by the sound."
Recorded in a circle of tape machines, every detail of Howl seems to have been afforded the kind of scrutiny and natural precision that could only come from a free recording endeavour. The first single "You Go Bangin' On," a free-spirited flower rock rambler, was ultimately rearranged and recorded in five drastically different ways before the band was satisfied with it. With Harlow behind the boards for the first time in the Go's history, the band felt the impact of tracking, too, especially since the frontman regularly worked gruelling 18-hour days on the disc.
"He had the burden of this record on his shoulders," remembers Krautner. "He spent every available minute on the record, stressed out over it. He was also a good psychiatrist for us when we were having nervous breakdowns. Which was a lot."