If you go to the New Riddim show at Vandals on Friday night and buy a copy of the band’s new CD, “Second Sight,” you’ll get a pair of 3-D glasses. And you’ll need them.
The cover of “Second Sight” is a 3-D image, a silhouette of a man holding up a pair of glasses.
“We found it online,” said Kian Byrne, bassist for the seven-piece band. “I didn’t know it was 3-D; we just thought it worked with the title of the record. And it’s kind of a funky photo. So the photographer who took it told us it was 3-D and sent us a link. He didn’t want anything for it, but we sent him $50, and we’re going to send him the record and a pair of glasses.”
The 3-D theme goes with the music that fills “Second Sight,” which adds fresh dimensions to its primary influences: ska, reggae, rocksteady.
“We’re really not like a lot of ska and reggae bands,” said Byrne, who has been a member of the Celtic rock band the Elders since 2011, joining his father, lead singer Ian Byrne.
The New Riddim goes back about 10 years. Byrne was fresh out of high school in 2005 when he, Richard Faught and Rico Pierce started the band. They were a three-piece for a while, covering ska and reggae bands like the Slackers and Hepcat.
Byrne’s affection for reggae and ska goes back to his childhood, when he became a fan of Blue Riddim, a ground-breaking Kansas City reggae band.
“I remember watching them growing up,” Byrne said. “I’d listen to their records and always wanted to play drums like Duck McLane.”
The personnel changed several times, including Faught’s departure, but by 2010 it had settled on its present lineup: Byrne on bass; Pierce, drums; Daniel Loftus, lead vocals and organ; Conor Loftus, guitar; Nick Howell, trumpet; Mike Walker, trombone; and Marshall Tinnermeier, tenor saxophone.
“I really wanted to get Dan and Conor in the band,” Byrne said. “We’d been in bands since we were kids.”
The New Riddim issued its first album, “Kidnapped!” in 2012, about four years after recording started. It ended up being recorded in two studios by two producers.
Work on “Second Sight” started in 2013, and nearly everything was fresh.
“Dan might have had ‘Carolina’ written already, but the rest were fairly new,” Byrne said. “The process usually goes: Dan comes in with his keyboards or organs and vocals and throws us the chords. And we all play like we play, and it becomes a New Riddim tune.”
In December 2013, they started recording at Element Studios.
“Our main intent was to work with Joel Nanos,” Byrne said. “Dan had recorded at Element with his other band, Phil Neal and the Wornalls, and he loved working with Joel.”
For Nanos, a veteran producer, New Riddim was a new experience.
“When (Dan) asked me if I had ever made a reggae or ska record, I believe my response was, ‘No, but I’m not scared,’” he said. “Truthfully, I’m not the biggest fan of the ska/punk stuff but do really like the old-school pop and dub versions of the genre, which is more what they wanted to capture.”
The band gave Nanos a sample of the sound it was looking for.
“We gave Joel some Slackers records and told him our songs aren’t like these, but this is the sound we want: crunchy horns with some low-fi oldness to it,” Byrne said.
The rhythm tracks were recorded live, then horn, keyboard and vocal tracks were added intermittently, Nanos said.
“It was all a pretty traditional, organic approach to recording, so we were thoughtful about the sounds and tones we captured at the source,” he said. “The guys had a very relaxed confidence in the studio, and I think that combo allowed us to really capture the vibe of those old-school pop/ska records.”
It includes “Hell of a Year,” a horn-laden instrumental written by Walker, and “While I Wish,” a tribute Byrne wrote for his late grandfather. The sound is a mix of ska and reggae but infused with soul and jazz.
“Dan has been listening to jazz for a while but a lot in the last year and a half,” Byrne said. “So he’s using more chords on piano that lean that way. Dan and I love some pop. There’s a lot of soul and Motown sounds because of the horns.”
The New Riddim is already nearly done with its next recording project: a 45 rpm single it will release in April on Record Store Day. Side A will be “Carolina”; the B-side will be a “What Can I Say Dub,” a dub mix produced by the Slackers. It will be distributed by Teenage Heart Stateside Distro, a Kansas City enterprise run by Johnny Starke that specializes in limited run and other rare or out-of-print records.
“We got a copy of the dub mix while we were at practice,” Byrne said. “It sounded great, totally blew us away.”
Everyone in the band has a day job, and Byrne tours regularly with the Elders, so plans for touring are still up in the air. Friday’s show at Vandals will be a debut of sorts for the new record.
“We’re excited to play all the tracks here in Kansas City and to have CDs to sell,” Byrne said. “We have lots of friends who come to the shows who really want these (new songs).”
And at this show, they’ll get a new, 3-D perspective.
The New Riddim will celebrate the release of “Second Sight” Friday night at Vandals, 3740 Broadway. The Uncouth will open at 10 p.m. Cover is $5.
Also this weekend
Saturday’s show at the RecordBar, 1020 Westport Road, is the third fundraiser for the MidCoast Takeover, the four-day showcase of Kansas City music at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, in March.
The show’s diverse lineup comprises four bands: Kangaroo Knife Fight, Big Iron, Reid the Martian and a reunited Appropriate Grammar, who will play its first show since August 2013, when it disbanded after four successful years, two full-lengths and two EPs.
Nick McKenna, one of the band’s founders, said the breakup was friendly but necessary.
“Sometimes projects just come to a tipping point,” he said. “At that time in all our lives we all had other things that we wanted to focus on, so we decided to end it amicably.
“All of my bandmates are in awesome bands in town. Steve (Gardels) is in the Philistines. Claire (Adams) has several projects, one of them being Katy Guillen & the Girls. Alex (Dunsford) started the Morningglories, and I am in the infancy stages of starting a new band.
“For myself at least, Appropriate Grammar will always be the band that really helped develop who I am as a musician.”
Saturday’s show starts at 9:45 p.m. Admission for the 18-and-older show is $10.