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2020.08.07 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - St. Louisan Richard Fortus calls producing new Psychedelic Furs album a labor of love

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2020.08.07 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - St. Louisan Richard Fortus calls producing new Psychedelic Furs album a labor of love Empty 2020.08.07 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - St. Louisan Richard Fortus calls producing new Psychedelic Furs album a labor of love

Post by Blackstar on Thu Aug 20, 2020 11:04 pm

St. Louisan Richard Fortus calls producing new Psychedelic Furs album a labor of love

By Kevin C. Johnson St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Aug 7, 2020

To produce their latest album, "Made of Rain," the Psychedelic Furs turned to a familiar face: Guns N' Roses guitarist Richard Fortus.

Fortus was once part of the Psychedelic Furs’ lineup, last touring with the British new-wave band in 2008. He took part in the 2001 live album, “Beautiful Chaos: Greatest Hits Live.”

The St. Louis native, who lives with his family in unincorporated St. Louis County, has been with Guns N’ Roses since 2002. The coronavirus pandemic forced the band’s 2020 tour dates to be pushed to summer 2021.

“Made of Rain” is the Psychedelic Furs' first new album in nearly 30 years. It was recorded mostly at Sawhorse Records in St. Louis.

The album was finished in January and, after being delayed by the pandemic, was released July 31, following the singles “Come All Ye Faithful,” “No-One,” “Don’t Believe” and “You’ll Be Mine.”

Fortus and Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler also were in 1990s alt-rock band Love Spit Love. They met when Fortus’ early band Pale Divine (formerly the Eyes) opened for Psychedelic Furs.

Fortus says working on “Made of Rain” was a labor of love.

“I feel indebted to Richard," Fortus says. "He has done so much for me and my career. I've learned so much from him. When I first moved to New York, I stayed with him."

Fortus says Butler has been one of his favorite singers since age 15.

“I love working with him so much. We relate on so many different levels, and I miss that collaboration from the Love Spit Love and Psychedelic Furs.”

Fortus says Butler was patient and accommodating during the recording process, especially when it came to deciding to record in St. Louis. Producing the album elsewhere would have put a strain on Fortus' family.

It was his wife, Stephanie, who suggested recording here. It's a central location for band members coming from different parts of the country.

Two two-week sessions, which coincided with the bands' breaks from the road, were spent recording at Sawhorse for basic tracking. Overdubs and some vocals were recorded at Fortus’ home studio, and a few additional vocals were recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios near Woodstock, New York.

Fortus had a bit of nervousness going into the project. Though he has a long history with Butler, he knows Butler has a tendency to make life difficult for the person with the most authority on a project.

“I hated that at the time of Love Spit Love albums," Fortus says. "He would argue about everything, and I was afraid of that going into this. It was none of that this time. I think there was something within him that has changed. I don’t know what that is. But he's so smart and has a very introspective nature."

Fortus didn't have a lot of producing experience. He had worked with St. Louis band Gravity Kills and produced a few artists in New York City, but nothing on the level of his involvement with the new Psychedelic Furs album.

His original idea for “Made of Rain” was to deliver a stripped-down album.

"I wanted everything to have its own space in the sonic spectrum, where it’s not so much big, distorted chords," he says. "A lot of the early Furs was very ‘washy,’ a beautiful chaos thing. I wanted this clean and tight. As we started recording, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. It’s not who the band is or what the band wants, and ultimately it’s not my album.”

Fortus says it's his job as producer to realize what the band wants to create and to go from there. In this case, he saw Butler drawing inspiration from early Roxy Music albums.

“I don’t think anyone would listen to the album and think they were listening to Roxy Music, but that’s where we were drawing inspiration," Fortus says. "I love how Richard does that — how he brings all these different influences and filters it through, and it comes out as something very unique.”

Fortus’ daughters, Paisley, 14, and Clover, 12, lent vocals to “Hide the Medicine” and “Don’t Believe.” “They both have amazing voices," he says. "They just killed it. It was so much fun for me.”

He wrote “Hide the Medicine” and “Stars” for the album.

Fortus is looking forward to returning to the road with Guns N’ Roses and eventually making a new album. The band brought its “Not in This Lifetime” tour to the Dome at America’s Center in 2017. It was the band’s first time in St. Louis since the infamous 1991 “Riverport Riot” at Riverport Amphitheatre (now Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre). It was also Fortus’ first time performing with Guns N’ Roses in St. Louis.

“It was nice, but it was nerve-wracking," he says. "It was a lot to deal with as far as friends.”

He says a mid-March date in Mexico City was Guns N’ Roses' last major concert before the pandemic shutdown. The band had hoped the show would be canceled out of concern for fans, but it went on.

“The government really wanted us to do this concert and refused to act like the virus was legit," Fortus says. "We expected to walk out and play to 50,000 masked people. There wasn't one mask. It was very interesting. We were trying to talk them out of it, but we had to honor the contract.”

After the show, the band members returned to their respective homes, which Fortus says worked out well for his family. One of his daughters was going through medical issues.

“I don't know how we would have gotten through it if I hadn't been home," he says. "In a way, it was a real blessing.”

After focusing on family during the early months of the pandemic, and with the Psychedelic Furs album in the can, Fortus put his home studio to work, booking recording sessions for other musicians.

“I was very fortunate," he says. "A lot of my friends don't have that kind of setup. Financially I would love to go back to work. But I'm fortunate to make enough money.”

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