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Seth Glier stays grounded leading up to Grammy night

Seth Glier_photo by Tom Moore.jpg

“Grammy winner” has a nice ring to it. So does “Grammy nominee,” and folk rocker Seth Glier is really enjoying having those two words appear in front of his name leading up to the 54th edition of what’s billed as “music’s biggest night.”

The Next Right Thing (MPress Records), Glier’s most recent album, is a Grammy contender in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category along with works by Sarah Jarosz, Gillian Welch, Seth MacFarlane and Alison Krauss and Union Station. But unlike those other four acts, Glier actually handled some of the engineering tasks on his album, along with Kevin Killen, Brendan Muldowney and John Shyloski.

Glier recently checked in to share his general feelings about the Grammys, who did what engineering-wise on his nominated album and what his wardrobe plans are for the ceremony (which will air Feb. 12 on CBS). Some musicians are indifferent about the Grammys, and others absolutely despise them — until they’re nominated. Where did you stand on the Grammys in years past, and did your feelings change once The Next Right Thing was nominated?
Seth Glier: “Well, the Grammys was never something I was shooting for. I guess I’ve always been a little cynical about the award ceremony, but I’ve always managed to watch them each year. Last year was by far my favorite with Bob Dylan, Leon Russell and Mumford and Sons performing.

“I’ve never despised the Grammys, but I certainly didn’t plan on it being a part of my musical life. I know it is cliché, but it certainly is an honor just to be nominated.”

When you heard about the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical nomination, were you given an explanation why your album was picked? Are there certain qualities that an album must/should have in order to land this particular Grammy nod?
Glier: “That’s a great question. No, I wasn’t given any explanation. That would have been nice.”

The album’s vocals were recorded at your home, and other parts were tracked at Carriage House Studios in Connecticut. Talk about the acoustic and equipment similarities/differences between these two venues, as well as some of the specific and specialized engineering techniques that were used in each location.
Glier: “Well, the biggest asset that I have in my home studio is time. Since I’m not paying for the time, the off-the-clock setting really allows me to simply get the right parts and the right sounds for the job.

“Recording in a professional environment also has its perks. Setting up microphones on a piano and drum set takes a good amount of skill and top-notch equipment. I always use a studio for those kinds of things, but things like vocals and guitars that are much more about the right energy/performance I feel are best in the off-the-clock environment.”

Did you, Kevin, Brendan and John each perform a particular engineering role during the sessions? Or was it a team effort, with everyone working together in the same room at the same time?
Glier: “No one worked together at the same time, actually. Brendan was the tracking engineer and was with us to record basics — bass, drums and piano — as well as the string session. It was great to have an engineer other than myself in these situations because I was able to focus on the creative elements as oppose to the technical ones.

“I then took the tracks home and recorded everything else. Both John and Kevin came in toward the end to mix the record, each mixed different songs so they didn’t even work together, so to speak. I like this approach because the record as a whole is cohesive but many hands and influences are at work.”

Are you taking anybody with you to the Grammy ceremony? And what will your attire be?
Glier: “You mean, ‘Who will I be wearing?’ (laughs) I’ve been getting asked that question a lot. I’ve gotten a few requested from different designers, but I’m actually just going to wear the clothes I already have — no need to be someone I’m not just because of the Grammys.”

In the event that The Next Right Thing is victorious, will you insist that all future preconcert introductions include a mention that you’re a Grammy winner?
Glier: “Honestly, where there is an introduction, I probably will. It will certainly be something I am proud of. I’m still proud of the record whether or not it wins a Grammy.

“The thing that is great about the Grammys is it’s a big accolade that just about everyone recognizes, not just people in the music industry. Can it be political? Yes. Is it a make-or-break award? Certainly not. But it is respected, and either way, there is a bit of success just being nominated.

“One way or another, I’m still planning on recording my next record in my parents’ basement.”

— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior

Seth Glier on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Feb. 16: Jammin Java — Vienna, Va.
* Feb. 17: Faith Community United Methodist — Baltimore
* Feb. 18: Tin Angel — Philadelphia
* Feb. 24: Rockwood Music Hall — New York
* Feb. 25: Bread and Butter Farm — Shelburne, Vt.
* March 2: New Hope Winery — New Hope, Pa.

Photo by Tom Moore