Think you're claustrophobic? Imagine spending three hours trying to record a song and music video in a decommissioned WWII-era submarine. That's what the Austin-based Royal Forest recently did for their single "Everyone Who Knows You."
The video above was recorded inside the USS Cavalla in Galveston's Seawolf Park. Royal Forest has been making field recordings of songs off their latest album, Spillway, and band member Justin Douglas, who grew up in Houston and spent his summers in Galveston, suggested the sub as a locale. The band has also recorded videos in the Monahans Sandhills and in a single-prop airplane above the Texas Hill Country (Page 2).
"It's a recurring theme," says bandmate Cody Ground. "It kind of shows what we're willing to use to capture the music. I see the format changing depending on the environment."
Recording on the sub gave the music a certain sound, both say. Water is a better conductor than air; pair with that all the brass, pipes, fittings and torpedo tubes, and you have a sound that couldn't be replicated anywhere else.
While getting their equipment into the sub was a challenge -- especially for the 6'5" Douglas, Royal Forest says getting permission to use the sub was fairly easy.
"I approached the director of Seawolf Park, [and] she took it to their board meeting," Douglass explains. "We had to submit music samples, and make a donation to the park. I think we donated $100. We're all lifetime members of the American Underseas Warfare Center now," he adds with a laugh.
But the band had to improvise. They drove all the way down from Austin before realizing they'd forgoted to bring mike stands. And they'd set up in one end of the sub and realize they needed something in the other part of the sub, so they'd have to navigate their way through all the onboard equipment to get it.
"Those portholes are hard to squeeze through," Ground says.
The band only had three hours in the vessel, for setup, recording and breakdown.
"It went by really fast," Ground says. "Either you get it or you don't. On the way home we were looking at the footage and realized we had some really good stuff."
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Royal Forest was coy about the location of their next field recording.