I recently had the opportunity to talk with Good Charlotte’s guitar player, Billy Martin over the phone about the band’s upcoming album Cardiology. We talked about the recording process, how the band switched producers and record labels, and keeping up with their devoted fans.
First off, I just wanted to thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.
Yeah, no problem.
How does it feel to be releasing your fifth album?
It’s amazing. Honestly, we think about that more than a lot of the other things that we get to do. Nowadays, longevity seems to be the hardest thing to maintain. I think really we just owe it to having good fans. They keep supporting us, it feels good.
Was the recording process for this album different than it had been for previous albums?
A little bit. When you’re five people, everybody has different ideas that everybody wants to do that has a different sort of end result. It’s hard finding that middle ground, and we definitely struggled a lot with that on our previous records, trying to all find a way to be happy and feel like you’ve gotten input. We’re just older now, like you said, it’s the fifth record and we’ve done it so many times that you realize that the bigger picture is more important that the pieces. We went in with no egos, no expectations, and said lets make a record that we know how to do and hope that we can make one that’s better than the previous record.
How many songs did you initially record for Cardiology before narrowing it down to what was going to be on the album?
This record was quite a roller coaster ride. There were a lot of demos. We originally started out doing this album with Howard Benson producing. He came in and picked a few demos out that he thought was strong and told us that we needed to keep working. We started tracking the record with him. We finished all the drums, all the bass. We got about halfway through the guitar and then we started doing vocals on some of the songs, and realized it just didn’t sound like we wanted it to. It was missing a lot of the heart and the soul that the demos had.
We kind of just pulled the plug and started over later with Don Gilmore, who had done our last record (Good Morning Revival) and our first record (Good Charlotte). We wanted to try something new with Howard, and it seemed like a good fit, but in the end it just wasn’t. We kept probably six or seven of those songs. We ended up throwing everything away and re-recording with Don and then a handful of new songs came out during the process.
So you worked with Don Gilmore on this album, and I noticed that some of the songs on this album sound reminiscent of your first album. Do you think this is because you worked with the same producer or was it something that just happened naturally in the recording process?
I’m not sure, because he is the same producer as our last record, which I think sounds the least like our first record. I don’t think it was totally the producer, because then our last record would have sounded more like the first two. I think consciously we had been experimenting on each album.
Our first record was really simple, simple melodies and simple hooks. The second record we started with more textures and sounds. The third record we got a little more experimental with strings and keyboards and really trying new stuff. The fourth record, we went a lot more heavy with the keyboards and brought a more dance-y kind of vibe. This record we kind of said alright, why don’t we take the best of all those records. Let’s keep it simple like the first record. Let’s have it be about the hooks, but lets make sure the songs are rich with all those textures and sounds that we like. We’re not going to ditch the keyboards, cause all of us really love electronic music and that’s something we found a way to put the music we like, but maybe just not as much as the last record.
We really tried to take the best of all our previous records and combine it to make the record that fans that love any of our records could listen to this one and be into. Not really super conscience; it just seemed like the right thing to do.
I think it worked out well for you guys. On previous albums, you have co-written tracks, I was wondering if you had any co-writes on this album as well?
No, I didn’t. My wife and I had a son a year and a half ago. I’ve been spending time really enjoying being “Dad,” and sort of being swept up in the whole family world. Part of me feels a little guilty that I didn’t come to the table with as many songs as I have in the past, but it just felt right.
There’s just not that many times in your life that your kid is born and you get to spend all that time with them. I really take advantage of not being on the road, and spend a lot of time with my family. I didn’t bring songs to the table, but now I’ve figured out how to balance my job and my family, I think for sure in the future I look forward to getting back in being more of a songwriter.