With infectious melodies and powerful hair-metal riffs, instrumental rock quartet Double Ferrari has been melting the faces off of audiences in Athens and beyond since 2014. This month, the band releases its self-titled debut album, which is one of the most joyful local records of the year.
With a style completely free of lyrics, it’s surprising how grin-inducing and all-around uplifting Double Ferrari’s music feels. According to guitarist and group founder Jace Bartet, the lack of vocals is very much a conscious artistic decision intended to create universal appeal.
“The human voice is only one instrument among hundreds that an artist may or may not include in their music,” he says. “In Western music, we know that a major-key melody tends to sound joyful or happy, and a minor-key melody sounds mournful or menacing, but my favorite thing about music is that there’s no overt reason why a listener knows these things. We don’t have to be told that a happy melody sounds happy—it’s an intrinsic, deeply human knowledge.
“Our music is largely intended to suggest that loud, crazy electric guitars blasting out of Marshall stacks doesn’t have to be macho,” he explains. “We want our music to be inclusive.”
Double Ferrari was born from the ashes of Bartet’s previous band National Anthem, which he formed with Brent Blalock, guitarist Allen Owens, vocalist Nick Simmons and drummer Tim Payne in 2011. Though the band quickly became a tight-knit brotherhood, after just two years the project “became unsustainable,” says Bartet. In 2014, Bryant Williamson and Luke Fields—Bartet’s bandmates in video-game tribute act Bit Brigade—convinced him to re-work some of National Anthem’s material into instrumental tracks. The three of them then came together as Double Ferrari, named after a National Anthem song. They went on to recruit Family and Friends’ Ryan Houchens to serve as their drummer, filling out the four-piece.
Though Bartet insists that “the world hasn’t been waiting” on a Double Ferrari album, it is curious why it took so long for the band to release a full-fledged debut. According to Bartet, he and the rest of the band refused to settle for anything less than perfect.
“It felt important to us to be patient in having things come together exactly as we dreamed,” he explains. “We could have done it in the Southeast and still produced something we are proud of, but the goal was to do it at [California’s] Louder Studios with Tim Green, so we figured out a way to make that happen. We put the music first, but also wanted to have the entire package seem like a cohesive whole, since we had waited so long.”
Working with engineer Green was a longtime goal for the band. Green, who has produced albums by Bikini Kill and The Melvins, among countless others, is one of Bartet’s personal heroes, and recording at his studio was a dream come true. “Tim has produced dozens of records I love,” says Bartet, adding, “Double Ferrari’s music sits in a wheelhouse that he pretty much personally helped build. So, by the time we got there, he already had the perfect amps, all knobs turned to their perfect positions, mic’d up and ready to go. We spent almost zero time on tone shaping and got right to work.”
Tragedy struck during the recording, though, when former National Anthem member Owens died unexpectedly. Bartet, who was shaken by the loss, says Green was key to helping him finish the record.
“I questioned whether or not I would even be able to focus on completing my tracking,” he says. “We only had three more days to go with no hope of getting back to California to wrap up in the conceivable future. I explained the situation and my doubts to Tim, and we halted the session to talk privately for about half an hour. The empathy he showed me in that conversation was critical to my ability to carry on. That’s the kind of producer and person he is.”
After a long, sometimes painful journey, Double Ferrari is finally ready to release its jubilant rock and roll to the masses. Though the band is happy to be able to share its message with a wider listening audience, Bartet says he and his bandmates are already looking towards the future.
“The four of us share a passion for touring and performing that will always be part of our lives, and there is plenty more to be said in the context of high-energy rock and roll electric guitar,” he says. “We’re just getting started.”
This article has been edited to clarify personnel details about National Anthem and Double Ferrari.
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