Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

23Mar/150

A Quick Look Inside The New BoDeans Album, ‘I Can’t Stop’

Image Credit: Robert Luk
The BoDeans came rolling through Cleveland last fall for a mother of a show that featured legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff behind the kit. At that time, I spoke with longtime BoDeans vocalist/songwriter Kurt Neumann and I was interested to find out what it was that was bringing them through town. As it turns out, the tour had been planned to support a new album that had been pushed back to a 2015 release. I Can't Stop is that new album and you can finally get your hands on it as of April 21st.

With that in mind, I figured that I'd dig out that interview with Kurt, since he talks quite a bit about what fans can expect from the new record. (Which you can get a quick taste of via an initial song stream here.) The band will be back on the road in April for a tour supporting the new release (including a show at the Kent Stage here in the Cleveland area on April 29th).

I was excited to hear that there’s a new BoDeans record in the can, so I’d love to start there and hear whatever you can tell us about that.

The record’s called I Can’t Stop and it should come out in mid-February. It’s a pretty up-tempo record. I’m not one of those artists who makes a real moody record. The last couple that I’ve made have been really up-tempo and I find that they just translate really well to playing live, which you know, our shows are pretty high energy shows, which is why we have Kenny Aronoff drumming. It works out really well -- that way we have fun shows to play and good times. So for now, I keep the records more rockin’ and uptempo. So yeah, it should be out in February and I think it’s my 12th studio record, so it’s pretty cool.

Inspirationally, where were the songs coming from this time around?

I was talking a lot about rock and roll music and the music industry and stuff and where it’s gone and how I’ve spent my life kind of playing rock and roll music. The whole idea of I Can’t Stop is just that -- I’m 52 years old and I’ve played it my whole life and you really can’t stop at this point and say, “You know what, I’m going to be an architect or something instead” and just change your direction.

I mean, you could but this is what I do, you know? It’s kind of coming to terms with, like it or not, the music industry is not in a great, great place right now and I’ve seen it come and things get good and not so good, but whatever it is, the music is still good. What I do each night playing live rock and roll still feels like a great thing and a positive thing to do with my life even though it may not be real great for making a living these days, still it seems like a good positive thing to do. So there’s kind of that recurring theme on the record, I noticed. I don’t do any kind of conscious thing about it, you know, I didn’t set out to do that, but that’s just the way the songs kind of came out.

At the time that American Made came out, that was your third record in three years with the BoDeans. It’s been a very prolific period for the band in recent years. Can you pinpoint why that is?

Well, we had been in a state after we kind of lost our Warner Brothers contract in ‘98, where one of the other members of the band shut the band down so he could do a solo record and then we got into this big legal battle with our ex-manager and it just really was a dark place to be and it just really shut the band down. So when we came out of that in 2004, I just felt like I wanted to put stuff out a lot again and play a lot again and escape from the negative stuff that we had been in. So I was just constantly working and I was constantly in the studio, writing and stuff like that and we put out a lot of stuff to the point that when American Made came out, people were just like, “Slow down -- you’re giving us too much, too quick!” So on this record, I tried to slow it down a little bit and not put it out quite so fast so that people have a little more time to digest the new stuff.

One of the things that was interesting to me about the birthing process of that last album was hearing that you had to sell your truck to finance it. It seems like it would be challenging to keep a band going in the current climate of the music business, as you spoke about a little bit ago and hearing about that move really seems to offer an example of that.

Oh, absolutely. It’s really, really hard and it’s harder than I’ve ever seen in my life in the music industry and I really feel sorry for bands that are just trying to start out right now, because it’s almost impossible for them. They’re not making money in any direction on anything they do, to the point of how do you do any kind of job when there’s absolutely no income coming in for you? I just don’t know they do it.

There’s a slight little sliver of new bands that are lucky enough to have a big enough investment in them, whether it’s their families or a record label, but it’s gotten so very small that there’s just less and less music going around and there’s more people making music than ever, so I just don’t know how the system survives. I wish I had a big enough brain to figure it out, but i don’t! So I do what I’ve always done, which is I concentrate on the music and I try to focus on that and let the rest of the world kind of figure itself out a bit.

Did you have a producer for this new album? I know you worked with one on the last one.

No, again, I just couldn’t afford it. Myself and my other singer/songwriter/guitarist who is in the band now, Sam Hawksley, we were both producing it this time around. Which is a challenge -- I’m trying to give myself some distance from the material and still keep it uptempo and fresh and all of that stuff. But I just didn’t have the money to go and hire a producer and go in the studio for too long and do it the way records used to be made, you know, when I started this. So you figure it out and you do what you can. This one, we’re getting it out ourselves as best we can -- I’m working through Megaforce Records and stuff, but there’s no producer -- no big names.

American Made was the first one that you had a producer on in recent years after producing the previous two albums yourself. What led you back to working with a producer on that last one?

Well, I think it’s a really great thing to have on a record, to have an outside perspective on what you’re doing. I think if you can afford to do it, it’s a great thing to have to find someone who is really good at that process and can really fit in that role. It’s not a simple thing to do -- I wouldn’t advise people just hiring anyone to do it. There’s a few really good people that understand the process and can fill that role of a producer really well and it’s hard to do for yourself, it really is. But sheer economics dictate what you can do in that scenario and so that’s the way it is. I prefer to have someone there and I prefer to go into the studio for a good long while and just play and play and play and get some great stuff, but that’s not always possible. So the last record, that’s why I sold the truck, it’s just like I had wanted a producer for many records before and I had kind of gotten shot down by my old partner on it and so it was a chance to finally do that again and explore that. But it’s expensive.

The last album came after a pretty major shift within the group, so it would seem likely that you probably had an easier time approaching the idea of making a new album this time around now, because you probably have a clearer picture of where things are at and what this group is.

Yeah, well there was a lot of negativity going on for years and though I tried to keep things as positive as I could, you can only do so much. Other people have agendas and things happen and then you can’t stop that. So like I say, when I finally got to American Made, it was a chance to just let things be positive again and find musicians who really like to play together and stuff, which is what the new record is all about too.

Every show we play now and every track we record, it’s really about trying to maintain what I think music is about, which is that positive collective energy, you know, you’re trying to create something great and inspiring to people. That’s the focus for me and that’s the focus that I always wanted but wasn’t always able to get to. Because there are people out there who think they’re more creative under really negative circumstances and that’s not me. That’s not how I function well.

When Sam Llanas departed from the group, how much did you have to reconfigure and perhaps figure out your methods for creating BoDeans records as a songwriter after that? How much did things really change for you?

Not much. I was doing all of the records myself for years, even back in the ‘90s when I was putting together our live records, all of the way up to this latest record, I had always been the guy in the studio doing all of the recording. I mean, a lot of people don’t know it, but I played most of the instruments on most of the BoDeans records in the early years too -- I would always play all of the guitars on all of the records and stuff, whether it was acoustic or electric and basses and some records, I played the drums and everything.

So I was used to that and that was kind of the frustration, is that I found myself doing everything, putting the records together and all of the recording, putting the bands together for touring, going out there and putting all of the setlists together and everything like that, so when Sam left, it wasn’t that big of a change for me at all. I think the change was for people on the outside looking in, but I was still doing all of the work like I always did, so that didn’t change.

The band has worked with T-Bone Burnett several times across its career, at pretty interesting points --- for the first record, the Go Slow Down album and again on Still. Do you think that significantly influenced the path of the songwriting and producing that was happening with the band across the years as the career of the BoDeans progressed?

Oh definitely, yeah. He’s a perfect example, if you can afford it, of someone who will really bring a vision to your record and really help you simplify the whole process of songwriting and recording and stuff like that. He’s very talented at it and being around him and working with him, that rubs off on you and I’ve learned a lot from him from all of the years and times that we’ve worked with him. He’s a great person and you carry that with you and you try to apply it. I try to apply it to every record I make and yes, you still have some of your own visions, but you try to remember the things that you learned.

Overall, when you look back at the music that this band has made, do you feel like the group found its sound pretty early on?

Yeah, you know we’ve been through a lot of transitions, if you go through the records. You know, a lot of people talk about the shake-up a few years ago when Sam left, but I think the bigger shake-up was when our first drummer left after the first record. I think that’s when we had our purest sound.

We were just a three-piece at first and doing this weird kind of rockabilly/alt-country stuff at a time when check tape at 14:05 were playing. It was our thing and it was pure and stuff like that, but as you get signed to labels and as people leave and you go through the process, things change and you try to adapt and you try to make sense of it. But you know, you listen to our first record and our fourth or fifth record and they’re very different. Because that’s the way life is, it would be hard to just be one thing only, but certainly in this one. In the arts, you know, you want to change -- you’d be crucified if you don’t change and then you get crucified if you do change. So you’ve just gotta follow your heart in it.

I spoke with someone earlier this week who called albums a snapshot of the previous 12 months…

Pretty much. Like I was saying earlier, when you’re the guy in the studio playing everything -- even from the first record on, I was playing all of the guitars and stuff, really kind of defining the sound, so I think I have a good understanding of what the BoDeans sound is and what people relate to it and what they like about it, you know? So I’m always conscious of staying within that arena of stuff -- it’s not like I’m going to put together a rap record with just drum machines or something, just because I felt like it that year.

You know, you’ve got to be conscious of what you are and what you do and why people relate to you, but at the same time if you have some other things that you want to try [you can do that], but I try to keep always within that realm of what it’s always been, which is classic Americana songwriting and classic simple songs.

Way back in the day, Mike Campbell almost ended up producing the band. What are your memories of that time period? Why didn’t things work out?

I don’t know. I was a huge fan of him and Tom Petty and the records that they made and we tried and like I say, we lost our drummer and that had a lot to do with it, so when we went out to record, we were reeling without the 16:19 check tape of what we used to be and trying to find what worked. At the time, we had a lot of great songs to record, but we didn’t have the same unit and that might have been the problem, but for whatever reason, it just fell on its face and we had to try to find someone else.

What’s got you out on the road for this current set of tour dates?

Well, originally we thought the new record was going to come out in the fall, but because I actually have to sell my house now, I had to take about a month and a half off to kind of fix up my house to get it up for sale, so that put the release off and that meant that it wasn’t going to come out until February. But we still had these shows scheduled and I didn’t want to just go and reschedule and it’s always such a pleasure to come up here in the fall and play all of these small towns and stuff that we play, so we decided that we’ll just come out and do the run and tell people about the record coming out and maybe come back in the spring or summer again. But that’s why we’re here right now.

BoDeans image credit: Robert Luk

Visit the BoDeans on Facebook for all of the latest information and show dates. Their official website is at BoDeans.com.

2Sep/109

A trio of good things

JUSTIN CURRIE The Great War - Rykodisc

The Great Cynic is back with more tales of love and woe which provide thought-provoking rationale for the heartbroken and lonely to delve into while the happier among us are quick to become thankful what for what we have.

This is filled with instant hooks, wonderful vocal tone and delivery, and the sense that you're in the presence of a guy who deserves a greater audience and a nice girlfriend.

If you like pop music sung by a great singer (Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, Neil Finn), or you're thinking that you've heard this voice before (think Del Amitiri), jump on board.

“You’ll Always Walk Alone” sounds like the lost cousin of “The Long and Winding Road.”

Songs to catch: “A Man With Nothing,” “At Home Inside Of Me,” “Can’t Let Go Of Her Now.”

BODEANS Mr. Sad Clown - 429 Records

A wide range of emotion among the songs.  The lyrics are heartfelt and self- observant.  Love the production. Very immediate with a lot of depth.

We’ve got groove, jingle-jangle, loud drums and all of the things that make the BoDeans great mixed with a healthy dose of maturity.  There are many moments which recall past albums, which in this case is a good thing.

The guys still have it together.  Fans will not be disappointed and novices should check them out.

Songs to catch: “Stay,” “Say Goodbye,” “Today,” “Feel ‘Lil Love.”

JOHNNY WINTER Live Through the 70s - MVD Visual

This is a progressive look at Johnny Winter reaching his prime during the 1970s. 111 minutes of greatness in black and white and color.

Seven segments from 1970-79 exhibit his love for both hard rock and blues and his mastery of both.  Highlights include footage from the “Beat Club,” “Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert” and “PBS Soundstage.”

“Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo” sung by a dude in platform shoes and a top hat whippin’ out a ton of wicked guitar is still killer 37 years later.

17Aug/0944

The Monday Morning Mix – House of Dub Winterfest 92 – 8/17/09

atv_mix_tape_02.jpg

Graphic by Rachael Novak

Click here for details on how you can be a part of The Monday Morning Mix and win some cool stuff!

We've got some great mixes in hand and on the way - where is yours?

A Note From Matt:

Today's mix comes from ATV's own Kevin Brennan - As many of you are aware, the Foo Fighters dropped one of their first jams on unexpecting radio listeners across the planet, a little ditty called "This Is A Call."  While there is no Foo Fighters to be found in today's mix, I do believe that THIS is a call.  You'll want to answer this particular call, and musically educate yourself a bit, or perhaps revisit a stack of old favorites that you already know, and haven't heard in a while.  This is one man's view of what mattered musically in the dawning moments of 1993.  In your hands, you're holding a jam tape loaded with 80 minutes that emphasize the jam part of "jam tape."  From the opening chords of Living Colour's "Cult of Personality" to the closing moments of the Georgia Satellites classic "Dan Takes Five," this sucker never lets up for a second.

As a final note, Kevin happened to mention that all of these tracks were merged on his original tape.  To stay with that feeling, I took the CD tracks and mixed them so that the entire mix segues from track to track, as it did on the tape back in the day.   This mix might be digital, but man, I swear I hear moments where the "tape" is worn out from playing it over and over.  Perhaps you'll hear it too!

P.S. - Note the Smithereens, Del Amitri, Matthew Sweet, and Social D tracks, and you'll begin to see why Kevin and I are friends!

Mix Notes:

Hey everybody, I guess it’s my turn at sharing the love of mix tapes with the flock.
Mine is a gem that I actually put to cassette tape on January 5, 1993 as I moved into my senior year of college. The name “House of Dub” comes from the fact that my two roommates and I had about 2,000 various titles on record, cassette, reel-to-reel and CD and any time there was an occasion for music, we got the call. There were about eight projects which comprised the “House of Dub” series and maybe we will get to more of them in the future.

This one brings forth many of my favorites from the 80s and early 90s.

Download complete mix (link is good for one week only.)

#1 – “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour from Vivid – Loved these guys from the day I first heard them. This song is just as relevant today as it was in 1989 and will continue to be so as long as there are leaders and followers. Stunning guitar by Vernon Reid, thunderous drums and bass by Will Calhoun and Muzz Skillings respectively and the power and glory of vocalist Corey Glover. The band is recording again and should be on your list of must-see live acts.

#2 – “Orange Crush” by R.E.M from Green – One of many excellent tunes from this album and one of the most interesting due to its commentary on the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Great production, great mix, great energy and unfortunately for me, the last album by R.E.M. that I really liked. By the way, Orange Crush is my favorite pop in the world.

#3 – “When the Love is Goob (I Mean Good)” by the BoDeans from Home – These guys had a fresh sound, catchy songs and were a lot of fun to listen to. This song leads off the album and sets the tone for what should have been a breakthrough project after the interest shown in their debut, “Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams.” It was to some extent but the sales didn’t match the quality they put forth. Guaranteed to stick in your head after one listen and that’s a goob, I mean good thing.

#4 – “Blood & Roses” by the Smithereens from Especially For You – If you have ever heard this song, you know it has one of the greatest bass lines in rock history. Besides that, it is very representative of what makes the Smithereens so good – Pat’s great songwriting and sad sack vocals lamenting the loss of love, Jim’s stinging lead guitar, and Dennis’ underrated drumming. These guys were schooled by the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks and AC/DC and that is all evident here.

#5 – “You’re Gone” by Del Amitri from Waking Hours – Another song of lost love by a group of guys who deserved better than what they got. Very interesting lyrically as the lonely guy observes that life goes on in the face of his breakup. Beautiful arrangement, great pacing, a masterful vocal by Justin as he brings the light and the dark to the front at just the right times and also one of my favorite Del Amitri passages ever: “They say that it's better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all/But if you sit down and count the cost of/All those losses/There's no profit at all.” True that.

#6 – “Worldwide Brotherhood” by John Doe from Meet John Doe – The angry punk grows up a bit, realizes that the world still sucks in many ways and he decides to sing about it. There’s more than that here as the song is one of disillusionment and knowing, one of anger and laughter and above all, it flat out rocks. The song comes from Doe’s overlooked solo debut in 1990 which is a tremendous record. If you liked later-day Johnny Cash or always felt that John Hiatt should have been a bit more cynical and dangerous, then you need to find this out-of-print gem. This also includes the awesome Tony Marsico on bass from the Plugz and the Cruzados. “Life is so beautiful with the butterflies flying in the cotton-candy clouds/Whoo, I’m telling you that I love my life…”

#7 – “Under the Big Black Sun” by X from Under the Big Black Sun – The John Doe vibe continues with the title cut from X’s third album. This song has a bouncy hook and feel that belies its detailing of Exene Cervenka’s struggle to reconcile the death of her sister in a car crash with her religious beliefs and the fact that she has spent years with “plaid perfume on my breath” while waiting for stardom to come. It sounds heavy and it is thanks to X, the thinking person’s punk band.

#8 – “Girlfriend” by Matthew Sweet from Girlfriend – This tune came out of nowhere in 1991 and blew me away. Killer guitar, drums up high in the mix and a driving bass line all built around a pop song about a guy who misses his girl. It’s rock and roll the way it should be. This tune also features the work of Richard Lloyd on guitar who contributed heavily to the Meet John Doe album.

#9 – “Blues Before and After” by the Smithereens from 11- The band was primed for the big time and put out their best overall album led by “A Girl Like You,” but this song was the real jammer on the record. It’s heavy, it’s tight and it’s also a fantastic video that didn’t get much run on MTV. The subject matter is a guy who takes the abuse of a semi-interested woman and can’t get enough of it, not much of a stretch for Pat to write about but always interesting nonetheless. Great vocal by Pat as well. The guitars are crunchy and piercing, the drums pound and the bass walks along like a net keeping it together. Ed Stasium is the producer (Ramones, Living Colour, Motorhead, Soul Asylum, Hoodoo Gurus) and it sounds beautiful.

#10 – “Let It Be Me” by Social Distortion from Social Distortion – This song is nothing but energy, energy and more energy. An absolutely killer song that is representative of the best the band has to offer. If you don’t have this album, go get it now!

#11 – “You Don’t Move Me” by Keith Richards from Talk is Cheap – Keith’s now famous ode to Mick that is biting, sincere and shows that Keith still wanted to rock in a serious way. Steve Jordan’s drumming is always top-notch and he carries this song while Keith lays down some nice guitar. Keith’s production skills are also tremendous. This guy has a feel that is undeniable and he himself is indestructible despite the best efforts of drugs, alcohol and island trees.

#13 – “The Morning” by the Call from Reconciled – A confused man tries to sort out where he is going, what he should do and why it all matters. Again, it speaks to the struggle we all face at one time in our lives and does so with great conviction. One of Been’s best vocals ever backed by stomping drums and some wicked and wiggly slide guitar. “I’m standing at the edge of my mind/If I look in, I might fall in, I sense danger/I’m divided but I’ve decided it’s my nature/But if I look back I might fall back into yesterday.”

#14 – “I Wanna Be a Flintstone” by the Screaming Blue Messiahs from Bikini Red – A fun novelty song from a wickedly rocking band. Produced by the late great Vic Maile (Godfathers, Motorhead, Girlschool, Kinks and more), this tune recounts the entire Bedrock scene with vocalist/guitarist Bill Carter sounding like a speed freak playing manic guitar. This band suffered the double hit of being dropped by its label after its third album and Maile dying of cancer in 1989. Check them out as they have much more to offer besides this track. If you saw them live, you know what a wacko Carter was and how much fun they were.

#15 – “Love For Sale” by Talking Heads from True Stories – The album was David Byrne’s sardonic look at American culture and the song sums up the state of electronic media circa 1986. While still a pop song, the guitars are tough, the drums are loud and the message is clear: “I grew up in house with the television always on/Guess I grew up too fast/And I forgot my name.” As much as things change, they often stay the same…

#16 – “Jesus & Johnny” by the Havalinas from The Havalinas – A tune about a drug deal gone wrong that comes off like a good short story with a driving beat. It slaps and grooves its way along with ultimate cool until moving into overdrive. The band includes former Rockats members Smutty Smith and Tim Scott along with drummer extraordinaire Chalo Quintana (Plugz, Cruzados, Izzy Stradlin’s Ju Ju Hounds).

#17 – “Whiskey Talk” by Guadalcanal Diary from Flip-Flop – An in-your-face riff and a lesson about the dangers of being a stupid drunk. Cleverly written and loud, there’s depth in the song which shows that this band had what it took to make it but yet never quite did.

#20 – “Walkin Talkin Johnny Cash Blues” by the Godfathers from More Songs About Love and Hate – A rockabilly tribute to the Man in Black that cooks all the way through. The always great “I could care less” vocals by Peter Coyne are here and all else rocks. The late great Vic Maile produced the album and it was their best.

#21 – “Glamourpuss” by the Hoodoo Gurus from Magnum Cum Louder – It’s all about the one who’s the star and she’s all over this song. Played at a full throttle pace and noisy in good way, this tune helped drive the album to the top of the College and Modern Rock charts in 1989. Frantic vocals by Dave Faulkner and furious drumming by Mark Kingsmill set the tone.

#22 – “Six Feet Underground” by Jason and the Scorchers from Thunder and Fire – Likely the heaviest song laid to tape by the band and it is epic. Warner Hodges is monstrous on guitar and everyone runs to the finish in organized chaos. Lyrics by Perry Baggs are among his best and Andy York played on this album and toured with the band until their breakup.

#23 – “What Side of the Door” by the Paladins from Let’s Buzz – Very cool mix of organ and a big fat riff power this song about a guy who wants to know where he stands with his girl and then ultimately doesn’t care as long as he’s somewhere. Dave Gonzalez is lean and mean on guitar and vocals. A fine blues/rock band that appeared on Alligator Records in the 1980s around the same time as then-labelmates Johnny Winter, the Kinsey Report, Tinsley Ellis, Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials and Koko Taylor.

#24 – “Dan Takes Five” by the Georgia Satellites from In the Land of Salvation and Sin -
Dan breaks up with his wife/girlfriend, feels like he got screwed and wants to shout it out. This one burns from front to back, start to finish and everything else. Rick Richards is a guitar god and Mauro is a machine on drums. Nothing fancy, just rock and roll that any guy can empathize with.

Nearly two dozen songs in 80 minutes for your listening pleasure. Until the next time.

P.S. - A few omitted tracks that were on the original cassette mix - trimmed due to CD running time limitations:

#12 – “Everywhere I Go” by the Call from Reconciled - Lead singer and bassist Michael Been is a songwriter who brings simple yet insightful lyrics together with some great grooves and turns out wonderful cuts like this one. Yeah, I know the band had a religious angle that the label always tried to downplay and that was always cited as a reason for them not breaking out but don’t let that scare you. This is a song of faith that translates into everyone’s need to depend on someone for strength at some point just to carry on. The rhythm section is relentless and Peter Gabriel is back there somewhere singing along.

#18 – “Drive South” by John Hiatt from Slow Turning – A landmark album in Hiatt’s career, this song is the first cut and opens the door for a slew of tunes that together cemented his place as a great songwriter. Nice bouncy feel, makes you think of driving and summertime and that’s always good.

#19 – “Sweet Guy” by Paul Kelly & the Messengers from So Much Water So Close To Home – A great riff that doesn’t go away in the vein of “The One I Love” by R.E.M. and a story about love of an abusive type. Truly an excellent song that was radio ready. A legend in his native Australia, he never made it here after signing with A&M in the 80s. Thankfully, I worked at a record store and got a copy on cassette which led me to 5 other Paul Kelly albums.