I’m really into systems. So I like setting up the system and like watching it expand and become something really cool and new watch other people, like, contribute to the system and make it something better than I invented, or ever imagined it to be. You know what I mean? And I think that’s what led me to studio-owning–is essentially you’re building a giant instrument.
That’s Josh Block. Phenomenal drummer. Music producer slash arranger slash audio engineer. Owner of recording studio––and now label––Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, Texas. He played and toured with rock and roll band White Denim for many years, and later helped launch the career of R&B singer-songwriter Leon Bridges, which he casually mentions but is a pretty big deal; so is the grammy. Josh’s ear for capturing timeless vocalists, proclivity for warm sounds from vintage equipment, and innate understanding of rhythm make for a lovely recording, if you’re in the market for a hit. But the only thing better than hearing my friend on the radio is catching up with him in real life.
Early on he recorded in a 1940’s Spartan trailer / makeshift recording studio, which is referenced in this Austin Chronicle article.
Josh co-founded and played with White Denim (originally Parque Touch) for 10 years, and left the band to move to Fort Worth, where he founded his recording studio Niles City Sound in 2014 (@nilescitysound on Instagram). Josh showed us his copy of the book Temples of Sound: inside the great recording studios during the podcast interview when we were talking about how the space is designed.
He met and started playing music with Leon Bridges, who’s successful album kick-started his recording studio concept. Here’s a Grammy Museum video about how they met and started recording Bridge’s grammy-nominated album, Coming Home, together at Niles City Sound. Leon’s second album, Good Thing, won him and his team (read: Josh!) a grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the song “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand.”
The three songs that appear in the episode are:
- intro: Gili Yalo – Zelel Zelel
- mid-episode: CAAMP – Officer of Love
- outro: Leon Bridges – Georgia to Texas
Do your homework and watch True Stories by David Byrne of the Talking Heads!
Josh’s three albums he keeps coming back to are:
- Roberto Cacciapaglia – Sei Note
- Tuca – Drácula I Love You
- John Coltrane – Coltrane Jazz
According to Josh, Pickathon is one of his favorite venues to play live; SNL was fun of course, Conan was rad, and Jimmy Kimmel was super cool to his staff, playing at the Apollo was huge. Just don’t slap the log!
Josh sent me these photos taken by the talented Rambo Eliott, who’s @Rambo on Instagram.
1/ Josh Block playing drums backing Leon Bridges on Saturday Night Live
2/ Josh Block playing drums backing Leon Bridges on Austin City Limits
3/ White Denim on Austin City Limits (August 2014 – Matt and I were there! My photos from the crowd is in the upper slideshow)
4/ White Denim interview after their Austin City Limits show (August 2014)