Yesterday, the band re-released "How Does Your Garden Grow" with a surround sound remix.
"It's hard to say if it's our best album, but I definitely think it's in the top two. An album I'm still very proud of today."
Better Than Ezra's Tom Drummond is talking about the band's 1998 How Does Your Garden Grow?, its third and final release for Elektra Records. Yesterday, it was re-released with a new 5.1 surround sound remix. The project was proposed by producer Richard LaBonté and mixed by Jay Ruston, who has worked with Brian Wilson, Leonard Cohen, Metallica, and Morrissey. "'One More Murder' was the first song we heard in this format," he says. "With all the sirens going off in the back, you're like, Whoa."
The album featured the band reaching beyond the guitar, bass and drums lineup that had been its bread and butter, and despite the attention "One More Murder" on The X-Files soundtrack brought the band and album, the label didn't seem to know what to do with it and let it languish. Today, it still has fans who respond to its sonic depth, with keyboards, synthesizers and loops augmenting BTE's core sound. That richness made it an appropriate choice according to Drummond, who as a producer and engineer appreciates how surround sound creates additional space in the mix so that little touches get more attention. "The strings in 'Particle' are all in the back, and what that does is make room for things you've never heard before like the loops," he says.
In a time when ear buds, headphones and computer speakers shape the listening experience, such a project is clearly aimed at a niche market, but maybe not as niche as it seems. Car manufacturers Audi, Land Rover, Acura and BMW are starting to make 5.1 stereos stock in their vehicles, which could help create a larger market for 5.1 remixes. "Imagine HDTV without any programming," Drummond says.
Better Than Ezra play the Acura Stage at Jazz Fest today at 1:40 p.m.