Anyone who has been at St. Olaf during the past few years will probably remember gathering in a cramped stairwell or lounge in their first-year dorm, craning their neck and straining to hear the Limestones sing. As St. Olaf’s official male a capella group, the Limestones advertise their concerts with small performances in many places around campus.
This is a particularly noteworthy year for the Limestones, who are set to release a new album at their spring concert. The campus eagerly awaits the album because the Limestones have not released a recording for three years.
“We’ve re-worked some songs from the fall concert and added some new ones,” said Evan Quinnell ’14, a Limestones member. “We wanted to keep a diverse set for the new album.”
The new album, Down to Earth, includes classics from the 1970s, some Christian pieces, country songs, pop songs and even some songs from previous albums that members particularly liked. There are also old favorites that the Limestones perform at concerts, such as “Malt-O-Meal song” and a piece called “In the Light.” “Malt-O-Meal” represents a classic Limestone’s song that is related to Northfield and St. Olaf. “In the Light,” is an example of arrangements of popular tunes that play to the group’s strengths.
The work for this album began long before spring break 2013, during which the Limestones spent 70-80 hours recording the album, often spending over 10 hours each day in the studio. Last fall, the group met the week before classes began for “Camp Limestones.” There, group members proposed pieces for the year, and everyone worked to narrow down the list of songs for the year’s performances.
“Working with the group was fun. It honestly brought all of us a lot closer together,” said member Kaya Petersen ’15. “There were inevitable disagreements between people, but overall I think we were better friends by the end.”
The group used a method called single tracking to perfect the vocals on the album. While some past recordings had all the Limestones singing around a few microphones, single tracking involves one person recording their part alone in the booth. The lone singer usually has a mini-file to listen to – a skeleton of the melody – so they know where they are in the song. Once done, all the parts are mixed together to create the full song.
“The best part of the experience was listening to our product at the end of the day,” Petersen said. “The track wasn’t completely mastered or anything, but hearing it come together for the first time was really cool.”
The Limestones used a Kickstarter campaign to fund the majority of the production costs for the album. Kickstarter is an online fundraising site that provides artists an opportunity to aquire capital for potential creative projects. Through the campaign, the group raised enough funds so that the new album would not place next year’s ensemble in debt. The Limestones have also offered pre-orders of their album as additonal advertisment.
All the hard work that went into the album’s production will culminate at the Limestones’ upcoming spring concert. Along with the release of the album, the group plans to incorporate the new members for next year into the concert. Though the Limestones are losing four members, the addition of Greg Martin ’15, Charlie Baird ’16 and returner Isaac Sorenson ’14 abroad in Ireland during the current academic year will bring the total up to seven members.
For more information about the Limestones, check out their website at www.thelimestones.com or follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Their spring concert is scheduled for Thursday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. in the Pause.