Rock N’ Recipes: R.E. Seraphin

As we continue our Rock n’ Recipes feature, we wanted to reach out to our old friend R.E. Seraphin, who has connections all the way to one of the earliest ATH Records releases (Mean Jolene!). A little over a month ago, his project released their new album, Fool’s Mate, so we reached out to Ray to talk about influences, the recording process and more. Plus, he’s got a killer recipe for Pimento Cheese that you’re going to have to try! Read on to hear more from R.E. Seraphin.

Stream his latest LP:

ATH: Your new album, Fool’s Mate, is meant to be a rock album, according to the bio. But, there’s always a softness to your voice, so how do you balance that dreaminess within the confines of a traditional rock track?

R.E Serpahin: I like that you pointed out that duality! Im not sure I consciously made a capital letter Rock album but I generally gravitate towards big sounds and guitar solos which is pretty evident when looking at my discography as a whole. That said, I’m also asthmatic and have never been the loudest singer, so I’ve adopted a gentler singing approach over time. I’m sure a big part of that is also simply having bad technique! On this record, though, I think the engineer, Jason Quever, focused on mixing my vocals louder than the other instruments to offset the contrast between vocals and instrumentation. Additionally, I take a lot of inspiration from bands with reedy, breathy or otherwise thin voiced frontpeople The Only Ones, Ultra Vivid Scene, Love & Rockets, Game Theory, to name a few. Those groups really helped me figure out how to work my voice into a rock context.

ATH: Speaking of said album, my favorite tune is “Worst I’ve Ever Seen,” but what would be the one entry song into the record as a whole? Care to explain why? Is it the track you’re most proud of? The one that’s the most easily popped into a playlist?

R.E. Seraphin: I like that one, too! Id probably point to one of the singles Bound or Expendable Man as decent entry points to the album. But I picked them as singles so of course Id think that. I like the brevity and focus of those songs and I think they’re fairly indicative of where my songwriting is heading. I also think End of the Start is a solid distillation of what the album has to offer; theres a combination of pop hooks and live band dynamics that stand out.

ATH: There are tons of players on this record from the Oakland scene, with members of Sob Stories, RPPs and more…with everyone seemingly being so busy out there, was the recording process difficult, in terms of timing? Who’s the secret weapon on the LP?

R.E. Seraphin: The recording process was difficult only in the sense that I was about to have a kid when we started tracking. Additionally, because we were recording at Jasons house, we couldn’t record past a certain hour; he was busy with his band Papercuts at the time as well. So, we recorded the record piecemeal over the course of four or five months. Ive rarely been in the position where I could blackout a week or two and head into the studio, so I wasn’t affected much by the schedule. I’m very comfortable working in fits and starts.


The album’s secret weapon is probably the drummer, Daniel Pearce he’s incredible, but subtle in a way where you don’t immediately recognize what you’re hearing in terms of technique. Joel Cusumano, who played lead guitar on the album, was also really integral to writing and shaping the album. What are the limitations? Can everyone be listed as a secret weapon?

ATH: I’m also a huge Jason Quever fan, as a songwriter and producer, so what’s the one thing he brought to the table that completely surprised you? Any other Quever attributes you want to share with the masses that made you grateful to work with him?

R.E Seraphin: Jason has a distinct approach to recording and mixing; he pays a lot of attention to the low-end, which is an area Ive maybe previously neglected. I think he added a degree of warmth and ambience to the record that wouldn’t have been there had I recorded it myself. As a collaborator, hes straightforward and will tell you if he thinks something does or doesn’t work without overstepping boundaries. He wont impose his vision on the project.


Surprising? I don’t know if it’s surprising but he’s a really accomplished player. In the studio, I only saw him play guitar a couple times but he’s incredible. He has a lot of range. He was talking about starting a surf rock band during our sessions!

ATH: Perhaps lesser known to the masses was all the time you spent here in Austin. What’s the one thing you miss about playing music here in Texas? And, what’s the one thing you think Oakland is doing better?

R.E Seraphin: Finding a practice space was a lot easier and music gear was quite a bit cheaper! In my experience, Austin groups are more pro in regard to being rehearsed, having their own gear, arriving to shows on time, and promoting their music. Oakland bands are sometimes disorganized and frequently use cheap or damaged equipment often to charming effect. I’m no exception! I mostly record with Squier guitars.


As a rule, Austin is perhaps a friendlier town to play music in. You can book shows somewhat easily and people will just casually drop in because they like to hear music. Getting people out to shows in Oakland can be a mammoth undertaking at times.

ATH: Touring seems a lot harder on the smaller scale these days, with fewer proper venues/promotional tools, etc. What are the road plans, if any, for Fool’s Mate?

R.E. Seraphin: I think that’s largely true! For a project like mine, touring at length is generally untenable. I like getting out of town when possible, though. We just played a few shows in Southern California and hopefully well hit up the Pacific Northwest later this year. Maybe Ill even make it back to Austin someday! And if anyone wants to fly me out to Europe, I’d happily oblige.

ATH: The rock n’ recipes is all about food and rock n’ roll, so how does food fit into the life of R.E. Seraphin? Merely a means of sustenance? Ritual? How does that play into going on the road, in ideal settings?

R.E. Seraphin: Like I’m sure many of the other musicians you’ve interviewed, I worked in kitchens for a long time. I currently work at a spice store, so I’d say food still factors pretty heavily into my life. I’ve historically cooked as a passion but these days food is mostly sustenance. I have a toddler at home so the primary objective is to get food on the plate and the secondary objective is to get her to eat. On the road Im not immune to indulging in junk food and that’s usually fun for a couple days before gastrointestinal distress kicks in. I do firmly believe you need to have an occasional nice meal with your bandmates. Something simple like that can really boost morale.

ATH: Tell us the story of your recipe? Why is it important to you? Does it tie in any way to Fool’s Mate?

R.E Seraphin: I occasionally develop recipes for my job and this one is adapted from something I recently submitted. I chose this one because its typically a Southern dish and I wanted to circle back to my time in Austin. Also, I first had pimento cheese at a cheese shop I worked at in Oakland, where I met my wife Katie. So, I feel this recipe encompasses the range of my food experiences. In the sense that it has personal significance, I’d say it relates to the album.


R.E.s Pimento Cheese

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded in a food processor or with a grater cup mayonnaise, Kewpie, Duke’s, or Hellman’s recommended

3 TBSP sour cream

2 TBSP cream cheese, softened at room temperature

4 oz jar of pimento peppers, drained, rinsed, and finely diced

2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp Tabasco, Frank’s, or Scarlet Fire Hot Sauce

salt to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with a silicone spatula until well incorporated. Transfer to a container and store in the fridge for up to one week. Serve with crackers or smothered on a burger. Yields roughly one pint.

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