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Posted 1:31 pm
February 17, 2014
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Mahgeetah, band of SF State and UC alumni, begins second album

Ryan Fisher’s iPhone is full of sound bites, averaging 17 seconds each. These guitar licks, vocal melodies, rhythms and chord changes are skeletons for the songs that his band, Mahgeetah, has spent months composing and arranging. Although the songs are constantly evolving, Fisher said the band is ready to start recording their sophomore album this week.

Mahgeetah’s second record will branch out from their debut album, “Heavy Baby,” said Fisher.

“We’re going to make it more on the dance, groovy side,” he said. “It’s going to be more cohesive–up beat. We might even include some drum samples.”

The band has been around for almost four years now. While attending SF State, Fisher and his old friend Alex Swain, who had been attending UC Santa Cruz, would go visit their friends J.J. Mellon and Tim Tyson at UC Berkeley. Fisher and his friends would jam at their friends’ houses and play Dr. Dog, The Rolling Stones and Wilco cover sets at parties around campus.

“(The band has some) cool riffs, some nice bluesy solos and the vocals are clean. (They) kind of sound like the Black Keys at times,” said Tyler Machado, a junior environmental studies major and fan of the local band.

When they all graduated in 2010, Fisher and Mellon had a handful of original songs that they used to start their own band in San Francisco. They enlisted Swain and Tyson to fill in the rhythm section and began arranging and rehearsing songs immediately. Since then, they have played all over California and performed on stage with The Stone Foxes and the Soft White Sixties, and landed a slot at the America’s Cup Pavilion.

Still, it hasn’t been the most active year on record for the band, said Fisher. Swain, Mahgeetah’s drummer, has been touring with hip hop producer Dan the Automator since August 2012. Mellon, Mahgeetah’s guitarist, has been increasingly involved with InGrooves, a global music distributor. Regardless, Fisher said he isn’t doubtful of the band’s future.

Magheetah Alex Swain (right) shows bassist, Tim Tyson (not shown) the bass line he had in mind for their new untitled song, while Ryan Fisher (left) plays the guitar melody at Swain’s apartment Sunday, Feb. 16. Photo by Lorisa Salvatin / Xpress

“If anything I think (the members’ own projects) can help the band,” said Fisher. “(Swain) touring with Dan the Automator kind of stopped our momentum, but it gave him a great understanding about recording, tracking and mapping the whole process out.”

If there is one thing they would really like to do differently from the last record, said Fisher, its “mapping it out.”

“We’re going into this one more carefully, with a solid blueprint,” he said. “We’re taking it song by song, day by day.” Fisher said that the record will be less guitar–driven and focus more on crafting songs.

“Fish’s attention to songs are really what separates Magheetah from most of what you hear in town,” said Brett Meumann, Fisher’s old friend and audio engineer, who is helping Swain record the new album at Swain’s house in the Lower Haight. “We never just hammer them out. They all take a lot of time and work, and it really shows.”

“We’re not the White Stripes or something, we aren’t a guitar rock band,” said Fisher. “We want people to put on this record and not have to think about it too much. We want it to be easily digestible.”

Fisher paused for a moment and thought about the songs they chose for the record. “There are two songs, ‘Tides’ and ‘On a Holiday,’ that we have been playing for years and have had great reception,” he said. “We’re really excited about a few of the other ones that no one has heard yet.”

Fisher plans to finish recording by the beginning of summer and release the EP in the fall.

An earlier version of this story spelled the band name Magheetah, when the correct spelling is Mahgeetah. We regret the error.