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
I'm digging the heck out of the new Adam Marsland album The Owl and the Full Moon which came out earlier this week, particularly the title track, which is on its way to becoming my summer jam for the summer (ain't it convenient how that works?).
It's an album that we almost didn't get to hear -- and for the rest of that story, I'm going to turn it over to the bio which came with the email download I got of Adam's new album. I'm grateful that Adam found his way to the finish line with this one.
To my ears, I think that Beach Boys fans (duh!) and Todd Rundgren fans will really dig this Marsland album but don't take my word for it -- check out a couple of sample tunes below at the conclusion of the bio.
Here also is a video that Marsland shot for his fundraising campaign for the album, which goes a bit more in-depth regarding the songs with additional samples.
The Owl and the Full Moon, the latest from Los Angeles, California-based singer/songwriter/musician/producer Adam Marsland uplifts - but only after several harrowing detours into the depression Marsland intermittently suffered from since 2005. "It started with this illness that never got diagnosed properly and never quite cleared up, though it got a lot better," Marsland said. "It made me sluggish and sometimes it was hard to hear, and it really messed with my social life. I did get better but then every time I tried to make it back out into the world, something seemed to knock me back into my hole. I still did good work, but in terms of my life, somewhere along the line, I lost my confidence and ability to move forward."
The Owl and the Full Moon is his first album in three-and-a-half years, and first since he abandoned his fifteen year career as a singer/songwriter in favor of behind-the-scenes production and sideman work.
"I was up in the Santa Monica Mountains hiking. It was after dark, warm, beautiful night, huge moon out, and an owl flew over my head and perched on a nearby tree. I felt so at peace and inspired. And I went home and wrote the music to "The Owl and the Full Moon" and thought, 'when I get that feeling again, I'll finish the song, and maybe write a whole new album that's happy and inspirational and uplifting.'
"A year went by, and I never got that feeling again."
Marsland has had an astonishingly eclectic career. He has proven himself a true uniquely multi-talented survivor, successively taking on the roles of punk frontman, tireless D.I.Y. road dog, meticulous arranger/bandleader and finally, multi-instrumentalist sideman/vocalist/engineer with an impressive resume, having worked with members of The Beach Boys, the legendary Wrecking Crew, 2008 Tony Award winner Stew, Earth, Wind and Fire, Three Dog Night, and others. (Not to mention, when the mood struck, an extremely accomplished Elton John impersonation). Marsland also racked up some artistic wins of his own, hitting Amazon's Top 40 with two successive releases, the 2008 compilation Daylight Kissing Night and the stylistically-diverse, lyrically thematic double CD Go West (2009).
However, the pressures of sustaining a D.I.Y. career on the musical margins for a decade and a half had worn down Marsland's resilience. After Go West failed to build on its initial success, a depressed Marsland took his road band into the studio for one blistering 8-hour session, yielding the scathing Hello Cleveland, a snotty, satiric kiss-off to the music business, and headed home.
The only problem was the solitary nature of life as a studio musician, which further exacerbated the growing sense of isolation. Having retired from the road, and inside alone for days on end building tracks for other artists, the walls started to close in. Slowly, Marsland was starting to lose it.
Finally, the day of reckoning came. "I was in the deepest funk. I felt like I had drifted so far from where I used to be, and I didn't know where I was going and didn't feel worth caring about. I just felt useless and isolated, and I knew I was in danger of doing something pretty self-destructive."
So, Marsland set up a keyboard, plugged it into the recording console, and forced himself to lay down basic tracks for The Owl and the Full Moon. "I had zero desire to do it. I already spent most of my time recording other people, and to me, making my own music was a 15-year exercise in getting your heart broken. But, it really felt like it was either that or jump off a bridge. I had a studio with everything I needed and ample chops to do it. So I sat down and started bashing things out."
Marsland had a unique strategy for keeping himself engaged in the album recording. "I already had a couple of things I had laid down, so I made sure to track just enough more that it could form the base of an entire album. That way, I could listen back to a rough sequence of the whole thing right away, kind of hear how it was gonna sound, and trick myself into continuing recording. Because like the first chapter in a book, you wanted to see how it was going to turn out. And so then you'd add on a bit more, listen back, and so on... "
The result is the ten-track collection The Owl and the Full Moon.
With these ten emotionally revealing pop and soul tunes nearly finished, two funny things happened. One, this casual offspring of Marsland's fertile but fatigued creative mind began to reveal itself as the best and most focused work of his career. And two, the depression that had periodically dogged Marsland for seven years suddenly vanished.
"It happened almost overnight. There were a few catalysts for it that I won't get into, but the shift happened very fast. The way I would explain it is you're in a dark room, and you know you need to get the lights on, but you're fumbling around forever trying to find the switch. Then one day, you find it and turn it on… and bam! Light." With it came back Marsland's "swag" and the energy to not just release The Owl and the Full Moon, but to mount a massive effort to get the music heard - a two-month tour of the U.S. and his first-ever trip to Europe, a six country jaunt that began in May. Six months ago, Marsland was totally disinterested in his own work. Now, he is about to get behind it to a greater degree than he ever has before.
"Life can suck," a newly reinvigorated Marsland mused recently. "But the trick is, don't take it personally. It's not about you. Life isn't about the crap. That's the background noise. It's the beauty in small gestures, the warmth of a friend, the smile of a stranger, the quality of the journey, the great moments… that's what life's about."
Moments like the inspiration found in an owl silhouetted against a full moon...and a long journey out of darkness into the light.
"We didn’t start with any agenda, other than to make a great record."
Featuring 12 new songs, Elvis Club will be officially released on May 15th, but to the surprise of the band (or perhaps it's a calculated leak!), the album is available early on iTunes for your downloading and listening pleasure!
Here's a video from the band with more information about the album.
Had to take a moment to share out this new song (complete with a homebrewed video) from ATV favorite Jay Nash.
The song is called "Wander" and it comes off of his upcoming album Letters From The Lost. Nash will debut material from the new release during a SXSW appearance in March.
Jay and I had plans to link up for a Desert Island Discs post in conjunction with his last album Diamonds & Blood that never quite came to be.
(Although we did connect oh so briefly for this really, really short email chat.)
But with another new album on the way? The possibilities are endless....
Speaking of that fine Diamonds & Blood album, you can grab it as a free download from Noisetrade and as you're looking back, you'll be able to look a little bit further ahead with "Sailor," a track from Letters From The Lost which is included as part of the free download.
Letters From The Lost is set for an April release and if you'd like to do some advance planning and have the right food ready to welcome that new album into your home, write.click.cook.listen has a suggested menu ready for you.
That’s the end thought from Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz in reply to a question about the prospects for a new album from the band, which would be their first studio album of new material since Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings in 2008.
Underwater Sunshine, the latest release from the Counting Crows is not the new studio album that many fans might have been waiting for, but it is something that Duritz and the band view as a “new Counting Crows album.” If you look past the fact that it is on paper, a covers album, you’ll discover in listening to it that in fact, it is not a “covers album” in the traditional sense.
It does play like a new Counting Crows album, with covers of songs that you probably haven’t heard by Dawes, Kasey Anderson and The Romany Rye mixed in with some songs that you might have heard, along with a few that you definitely know. And for the most part, the band succeeds in making each of the songs sound like Counting Crows songs. In short, put aside your preconceived notions and give Underwater Sunshine a good listen.
The press release for the album describes it as “a testament of a band geek-obsessed with music.” Certainly, that comes through in talking with Duritz, who peppers our conversation with mentions of various bands that he’s excited about (and he continued to share additional bands in emails after the fact), including the bands featured on this summer’s Outlaw Roadshow tour, a trek curated by Duritz and blogger Ryan Spaulding.
Our interview was lengthy, so I’ll present it in a couple of installments for your enjoyment. Believe it or not, for everything we talked about, there was plenty that we didn’t get to. But I feel like we covered some good ground.
One of the things that really impressed me about Underwater Sunshine is the good energy and vibe that you captured with these new recordings, something that reminds me a lot of the feeling behind the first two albums. I know that you recorded a lot of this new material live in the studio and it just feels very alive.
Well I think, it’s our records since the first album that sound alive to me. It’s the first album that sounds kind of produced [to me]. We weren’t very good at being a band yet on that record and it feels slicker. Two months of production is a lot slicker than anything we did after that. It’s like we went for much more live sounding things after the first album. But yeah, I know what you mean though. Like all of our records, it is recorded with all of us in the room together.
I guess a better way to put it - which is not to say that I haven’t liked the other albums, because I really liked the Saturday Nights album for example - but I really hear the enthusiasm behind this material in the recordings.
Well that, I mean, the Saturday Nights record, I’m losing my mind during the first half of it, I mean seriously losing my mind during that half of it. I don’t know if any of us thought we’d make another record after that. It’s not an enthusiastic record, for sure. The second half, I was pulling myself together, but I was still a bit of a mess. That was a bleak album. What it’s about, it just wasn’t very much fun to live through it. This one was a lot different. I don’t know if it's fun, I mean, we’re always kicking each other’s ass around the studio. We played really well though - I really like it.
I was really excited after hearing the Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings record, the way that album wraps up with “Come Around.” I was going “man, I can’t wait to see where they’re going to go with the next record after hearing that record.” So although perhaps my enthusiasm wasn’t in place when I first heard about this covers album, after I heard it, I had a very similar reaction - I was equally stoked to hear the studio album that’s going to come out of this experience. As the songwriter, what sort of songs and directional thoughts are in place for the next album?
If I had songs in place, we’d make the record. I haven’t been interested in really doing it. I’ve been writing plenty, but not for Counting Crows. I’ve written a lot for the play, the theater piece that we’re working on. That’s another reason we did the covers album, because it was really hard for me to think about writing for two things at once and I was much more interested in writing for the theater piece than I was for writing a Counting Crows record.
I’ve enjoyed writing that stuff and I kind of want to get back to it after this. I feel like I’ve put it aside - I did it right in the middle of all of this and then I put it aside, because I wanted to be able to make a Counting Crows record and we’ve been wanting to do this record for a while, so it was perfect. It really made it so we didn’t have to take a break, just so I could do the other thing.
You know, records come when they come. I don’t really think about them too much or plan for them too much, because I don’t think you really need to. There’s no real schedule - you’re just kind of living your life. So you should express it however you feel at the moment. We can always make records and I’m sure we will. But I don’t know, I mean, I don’t have any plans - but I never have plans for making records - it just happens. It can be me writing a couple of songs and we’ll go right in and start recording. It doesn’t need a lot of advance planning, we have all of the equipment, you know?
The truth is, I shouldn’t say that we did no planning, because a lot of the time that we spent in the studio for this album was sort of research, looking at different kind of rooms that we could use, because we have our own studio basically. We’ve made all of the records in houses and that’s kind of our way of keeping a working studio open all of the time for us. We sort of halfway did it for this album, because we didn’t really find exactly what we wanted room-wise, so we spent a little more time, just to get in the studio and record. But you know, we’ve spent this whole year looking for an ideal place in L.A. or Berkeley.
We looked at a place at one point that had a big barn that had rooms in it. We still continue to do that. Dave Bryson came up to me a few nights ago when we were in Utica. He had been looking at a couple of places and he found a space in Berkeley that might be really good, so he was talking about that. The truth is, that I tend to write when I have a place to put things. I’ve spent a lot of the past couple of years honestly going through these drug withdrawals. Although that’s a story in and of itself, I’m not sure I feel like writing that story after after just coming out of writing all of that Saturday Nights shit.
But I didn’t have a lot of life during that period, because I was shaking. I was either working....I mean, I did work a lot during that period. We made the record and I worked on the theater piece in the midst of the worst of the drug withdrawals, but I can’t tell you that I’ve lived much of a life in the last year. There’s not much to write about except for me sitting in my room and I did a lot of that with Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings and I don’t want to write about that again.
It’s funny though, one of the things that I realize with Saturday Nights also, it’s not just that people expect you to write good material, but they have a plot in mind for you too. It’s like they want to write the plotline for your life. It’s like if you hadn’t gotten healthy soon, it’s like “alright, [you're] talking about the same thing again.” It’s like when you have a first album that’s really big and you write a second album about dealing with fame, everybody complains about that.
What are you supposed to write about? It’s your life - that’s what you’re living at that moment. You can criticize the quality of someone’s work, but don’t sit and criticize the plotline, because I mean, that’s just life. That always cracks me up when it comes up. I think after writing the last album and having the second half be about trying to get better, I’m not supposed to be better in the plot. And quite honestly, it didn’t work that way. And Sunday Mornings wasn’t really about getting better, it was about trying to get better and mostly not succeeding, which is still better than getting worse.
Well, you had some beautiful songs that wound up on the second half of that album, so I guess for everything that you go through, if you can come away with that, you’re leaving with something.
Oh absolutely. I really love the album in some ways. There’s not a lot of fun on it to listen to, but I’m really proud of it. It was not easy to make that record, for a variety of reasons for me and the whole band too. It wasn’t easy to work with me when I was losing my mind. I was doing my best to focus but I was narcoleptic and it was difficult. You know, it’s funny, when I was doing the initial interviews for this album, one of the things that occurred to me was God, I could stay and do....and obviously I’m not going to do this because I’m not going to make any publishing money.
But you can record other people’s songs if you did them the right way, because I know what people mean - a lot of covers albums are just like karaoke albums. They’re purposefully put out there to maybe get on the radio, reminding people of a couple of famous songs they know and here’s us doing the song. Look at us playing the song you already know you love. They are kind of an easy out that way, especially if you don’t really do them well. We didn’t intentionally make this the most obscure covers album ever, but it certainly is.
We’re not going to make a karaoke album. It’s just not going to happen. If we make covers albums, the same with Counting Crows albums, it’s going to take a lot of concentration and if the songs don’t live up to it, we’re going to throw them out. We really weren’t interested in having a karaoke session with America and the world on this album. I mean, I wouldn’t allow them. There’s only a few songs on this album that I think people would know and they aren’t on that radio thing we sent out, because I didn’t allow them to go on it.
Because I wanted people to listen to this album...you know, I wanted people to put the album and hear “Untitled (Love Song)” right at the top and I wanted you to hear a Counting Crows record, because that’s what this is. You know, you get it, for all of the best intentions of your managers or agents or whoever, if you give them “Ooh La La,” they will take “Ooh La La” to radio. They’ll talk all they want about this album being so much not like a covers album that people will think of it as a Counting Crows album and take it as originals, because the songs really are originals in the way they are played....and then they will take “Ooh La La” straight to radio.
But we did not allow it, we did not allow “Ooh La La” or “Amie to go to radio, because I wanted people to get a chance to listen to this album for the work we put into it. There’s a reason “Untitled (Love Song)” is at the top of the record. It’s a really good album opener. We wanted people to hear the work we put into this record and not their memories of a Faces album. I’d say we probably lost ourselves a lot of radio adds thinking like that, but you know, [there’s] better things. You at least, listened to this album for what it really is and liked it.
Absolutely. That’s what struck me, is that it hangs together really well as a Counting Crows album, especially considering the scattered diversity when you look at the artist lineup on paper, that these songs were sourced from. I can imagine that you might have laid down more songs than the 15 that we’re hearing on this album. Are there any good examples of that which missed making it onto the final album for one reason or another?
Oh, it’s always the same reasons, but yeah, there are. The reason is because they suck - our versions, not the originals. Well this isn’t because it sucks, but “Local Boy In The Photograph,” by Stereophonics, that’s just because we didn’t finish it. That probably would have made it - that was really cool, we just didn’t get it done. You know, we only had like two sessions, we were only in the studio for about two weeks total.
We did a week-long session and a 10 day session, but with all of the studio breakdowns we went through, I’d say it was about 13 or 14 days in the studio, maybe. So we didn’t finish it, but that was actually really cool, I thought it was a very interesting take on that song. What else? “You Might Think,” the Cars song, I did a version of that for the All My Bloody Valentines record I made last year and it’s really cool on that record. It’s a very original take on the song and I thought, “well it’s such an original take, we should see how it works in a band version.” Well, the band version sucks. It sucked so bad that I started laughing in the middle of the second verse. I started laughing and said “turn off the tape, we’re not using this, it’s terrible.” It was so horrible and boring, I don’t know how to describe it - it was terrible.
Was it uptempo or downtempo?
It was exactly like the version I played, but with a full band on it. So kind of, I guess it was an uptempo song. It ended up being really light. There’s a version of “Mr. Universe” by James Maddock that Immy [Counting Crows multi-instrumentalist David Immergluck] brought in. I really like that song - we just did a terrible version of it. It was really boring and pretty bland. Although the interesting one really is “It’s Different For Girls” by Joe Jackson. We came up with this idea....I had heard a bootleg version of it - it was a real famous song when I was younger although it’s not one I’m sure people remember now. I found a live version of it that was really cool and we based our version off the structure of that. It’s such a great song and it was great to play and we loved it.
I mean, it was so much fun to play that song and we really loved it. We had a great time and I could not wait to get in my car with it. We finished work on it that day and listened to it on the drive home. We got in the car and drove [home] listening to it and I stopped about five minutes later when it was over and I played it again and I thought “what’s wrong with it?” I could not figure it out. It sounded great and I did not like it. It sounded great and I could not have been less impressed. I mean, I went in the next day to work on it and I went “okay, what’s the problem with ‘It’s Different For Girls’” and someone went “oh my God, that was amazing, I love it [and] listened to it all night.” It’s like okay, it’s so much fun to listen to it, but yeah, I do not like it [and] I do not know what the problem is. I did think it sounded great, it did sound like fun and I did not like it and I could not figure out why.
And that stretched on for months, because everybody loved it. The guy mixing it was Brian Deck and Brian was in Chicago and I was in New York over Christmas when we were doing it and I forgot to tell him that I didn’t want to use the song. Because I’d already decided without telling anybody in the band that I wasn’t going to use it. And that was going to cause a huge argument, because people loved it, I mean, our managers, everybody loved it. I forgot to tell Brian about that and he just mixed it one day. He had a first mix and sent it to me and he told me what it was and I said “okay, well yeah, let me just hear it.” I thought maybe he would have fixed whatever problem it was in the mix, he was very, very good about stuff like that. I listened to it and had the same reaction again - it sounded awesome, but I did not like it. I did not want it on the record.
I called Brian up and I said “look, I’ve got to talk to you about something. I have a problem here. I don’t get what it is, but I have a problem with this song. I think it sounds awesome, everybody thinks it sounds awesome, but I don’t like it. I don’t really want it on the record and I don’t know why.” And he said “Oh, I know why, I can tell you right now - it sounds like a cover.” I said “what do you mean?” He said “it all sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun playing a great song, but it doesn’t sound like you, it doesn’t sound like you’ve really made it your own. It’s the only thing I’ve heard on the record so far that just doesn’t sound like you’re owning it. It sounds like you’re singing a song, a little like karaoke.”
And I realized kind of what the problem was with it, because it’s a really fun song to play, but it’s a very sad song and I was having such a good time singing it that I forgot about how sad it is, you know? I took the wrong path on the song and the band is very sensitive to where I am. I mean, they listen to me very, very closely, even if it’s not in an intellectual way, they just get it and they follow me when I’m singing stuff. It’s part of why we’re really good as a band, because we do that. I was having a great time singing one of my all-time favorite songs and I was really excited about it being on our record because I thought it was probably a song that people forgot and it would be a real gem on the record. All of that doesn’t add up to what “It’s Different For Girls” is about. When I used to listen to that song when I was young, when you’re sad and bummed out about a girl, you listen to songs that really make you feel something....
It’s got a lot of that in it and it didn’t have any of that in our version, because I was having too good of a time singing it and everybody had a blast playing it and then it lost all of its emotional weight. And as good as it sounded - I mean, it sounded great - that’s not what that song is supposed to be like. It just didn’t have any emotional resonance for me except for “wow, this is really a great song!” Which is again, not really the emotion it is supposed to have in it. And then hearing Brian say that, that’s when I realized I just took the wrong path on the song. I just covered it and everybody went along with it. It’s got nothing to it.
Right then, we didn’t bother mixing it any further than that, because that was it. That’s a cardinal, cardinal sin - that’s worse than sucking in a way, I just didn’t realize it. I don’t know if that sounds asinine or anything, because people loved this version. I mean, they were not happy when that was off the record. I think they understand now kind of, but that’s not something that thrilled anybody. But that’s a cardinal sin and that’s why it’s off the record. But that’s also why I think this record works, because we didn’t keep stuff like that and we never do. Which I think is what kind of makes a career work in a way. It doesn’t seem like a short-term good thing. In the long-term, it’s really served us well being strict about things like that. If you don’t hear the emotional weight you’re supposed to carry, well then what are you there for at all, really?
One of my favorite tracks on this album is the version of ‘Like Teenage Gravity’ and it was interesting to read the story of what a challenge it was recording the track. Knowing that, I think that’s a big part of why it works, because you can almost hear the frustration in the recording and it gives it that right vibe.
Well, have you heard the original?
It’s gorgeous. That is a great, great song. You can see listening to it why we would fall for it. That’s a trap with shit like that. Because everything that’s awesome about that song, we were going to have to jettison to play it [differently], or else copy his version exactly. When somebody does something really stripped down, it’s really hard to cover that, because what are you going to do with it? You know what one of my favorite songs of all time has always been and there’s no way it would ever go on this album? Graham Parker’s “You Can’t Be Too Strong” off Squeezing Out Sparks. You know that song?
That’s a great song. That’s just guitar and a little keyboard and it’s great that way. But how are you going to cover it? What are you going to do that really needs to be done at all? Nothing. I don’t know what to do with it. And this one, I didn’t even think of it until we started playing and I realized “oh Christ - we’re murdering this song.” We could not figure out what to do and everybody was just at wit’s end.
And no one came in with any ideas either, which is what pissed me off. Because I feel like sometimes they just wait for me to show them what to do. No one came in with any ideas and I was fucking not in good shape anyways. You know, trembling, having very bad tremors from withdrawals and it was a rough week that week. I was just so pissed off at them for just like coming in and standing around each other. But you know, I’m not always the most patient person but it’s okay. I mean, it’s just about music, it’s nothing personal - everybody gets that.
But yeah, I guess [with “Like Teenage Gravity"], Jim started playing that drum thing and then Dan was sort of dicking around, he was doing this thing and it was very off-key. I think he might have been tuning up or something, with the amp on. But I stopped him and went in the room and I’m like you need to go to this note, like halfway through the intro when he goes to that very dissonant note. I was like “do that thing and then go to this note.” And he’s like “man, that sounds horrible” and I’m like “yeah, I know, but I think it would be cool though. As long as you get to that note at the beginning of the second time around, it will be really cool. You’ll know where to go from there, trust me.”
And then we just got it. I mean, considering how fucking sick I felt during the second sessions, I had the most complete arrangement ideas pop into my head, full-blown. “Hospital,” I mean, I had this idea for “Hospital” which just had all of those drop-ins and drop-outs with the guitars and drums. I don’t know, I just got it in my head. And on this one too, I had this idea about “we’re going to go completely electric on the first verse and then all of the electric instruments go away and it goes to acoustic. From like electric guitar and organ to acoustic guitar and piano and it worked really well - it was really cool. And then the guys picked it up from me - I mean, we’re really good.
Give an idea like that to our band and people will find cool things to do. Considering that there’s seven of us there, people have a really good sense of where to get in and out. Of how to find just the end of the other person’s phrase to trail in after. You can hear it, especially in the latter parts of the song before the solo parts, when the whole band is in there, dropping in and out, like Dan’s starting a guitar line and Charlie being right there, following it with an organ, or the other way around.
There’s one of those [moments] right before the last chorus, the break between that sort of bridge section, going into the last chorus. It’s the split-second hesitation between when the organ and the guitars come back in. It’s really cool. There’s a lot of that on this record, just really telepathic playing. You can hear it on that song and especially on “All My Failures,” that might be the best we’ve ever played as a band. I’m not sure we’ve ever quite played with the level of communication that we do on that song. I mean, it’s just like, as a band, I’ve never been more proud of those guys.
Listening to it, their sensitivity to each other and especially the way that Dan [Vickrey] on acoustic guitar, Immy on electric and then Jim [Bogios] and Millard [Powers] in the rhythm section chase each other around through that song, like reacting to everything each of them does, it just blows me away what they accomplished on that. That’s the most like The Band I think we’ve ever sounded [on that song] - it’s really cool.
Stay tuned for the second part of our conversation with Adam, where we talk some more about the album and also dig into his thoughts about being a music fan and making albums vs. releasing EPs and single tracks. There's more musical/industry discussion beyond that, plus some chatter regarding this summer's Outlaw Roadshow tour.
Since we last left our heroes Sons of Bill, they've been quite busy. Their new album David Lowery-produced album Sirens was officially released in March and made its debut in the Billboard Top 200 (not too shabby, guys!). They're touring currently in support of Sirens and recently announced that they will go to Europe this fall to play shows, starting with two weeks of dates in Germany.
Before that, they have a summer full of U.S. tour dates including a Cleveland-area show at the annual Painesville Party in the Park on Friday, July 20th, where they will join in on three days of musical entertainment including music from Cleveland locals Tom Evanchuck, Oldboy, Hedgehog Dilemma and Alex Bevan, just to name a few.
Sirens is also available on vinyl, as I recently discovered when I got this at my P.O. Box.
The pictured note below says "we hear you've been enjoying our record (and given the name of your blog) thought you might enjoy it even more on vinyl. Thanks for listening and keep in touch. All our best, Sons of Bill."
Sounds like friends forever, doesn't it? Thanks so much, guys!
That's right, not a song....not several songs, but the whole damn thing.
Perhaps more stoked than anyone should normally get about a covers album from any band, but those who are listening to these tracks seem to agree with me that this one is one of those rarities that hits the mark. It's the real deal.
Adam Duritz is a guy who understands what it means to be a music fan. He's clearly a huge music fan, as you'll pick up when you read the liner notes to this new album.
[For an advance read, he also did a track by track summary for Paste which you can read here.]
As the industry shifts, he's trying to figure it out like everybody else, which is why it was cool to get an email from him telling me (and other music blogs) that I'd be receiving a streaming player embed to share with the readers of this site.
We just want people to hear our record and all these songs and, quite honestly, you're where people who dig new music go to hear new music. That being the case, we want our record with you too.
Perhaps it's the digital version of how artists used to beat the streets, going radio station to radio station to sell each one on their music, one by one. Or maybe, it's even more powerful than that.
However you look at it, they'd like for a lot of people to hear this album. And it's my pleasure to finally be able to share it with you.
In the spirit, share this with a friend and make plans to get yourself a copy of the album if you dig it. This is one of those that if you enjoy the music, you'll definitely want to have the liner notes to get the rest of the story.....that's a big assumption on my part, assuming that you're still a huge liner notes geek like I am. But you are, right?
[And on a side note, Duritz says there will be vinyl for this new album....stay tuned for further details on that]
From a recording standpoint, things have been fairly quiet in the Soul Asylum camp since they released their last studio album The Silver Lining in 2006. That's about to change thanks to a newly announced deal with 429 Records which will enable the band to release Delayed Reaction on July 17th, filing the next chapter in a career that now stretches past the 30 year mark.
Dave Pirner comments on the new album which was produced by John Fields and says that “it feels like approaching it as an album and a thing that has a sequence, and a thing that is a piece of work in itself is almost an archaic process… Honestly, it's more organic. Even though you're using some of this newer technology, the fact that you're doing it yourself is what made it take so long and the process unique, this time."
The band's current lineup includes founders Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy alongside ex-Replacements and current Guns N’ Roses bassist Tommy Stinson (who replaced original member Karl Mueller who passed away in 2006) and former Prince drummer Michael Bland.
The album's 10 tracks were recorded in a variety of locations, starting in Los Angeles and then relocating to New Orleans and the band's home base of Minneapolis prior to returning to Los Angeles.
Soul Asylum will of course be on the road this summer promoting the album (is there any band from the '90s that won't be touring?), so if you've been wishing the band might come to your neck of the woods for a show, it's very possible that your wish might soon be granted.
This picture says quite a bit....
While this picture adds a few more details...
....and this article fills in the rest of the gaps.
As a rock and roll geek for life, it's no shock that I love moments like this...and it's even cooler when they happen right here in Cleveland. Take that, Cleveland bashers, rest of the world, etc.
When I got a chance to see Joe Walsh last fall, it was a make good on several levels. First, it made up for the James Gang reunion shows that I had missed in the past 10 years. Also, it answered a question that I was unsure about. Could Joe Walsh still rock?
It turns out that solo Joe Walsh is still a very different animal than the Joe Walsh that you see on stage these days with the Eagles. And yes, Mr. Walsh most certainly can rock and then some.
His new solo album Analog Man has just been confirmed for a June 5th release date (what's this CD/DVD "deluxe edition" that I'm reading about now?) and even with the Eagles celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, Walsh will be playing at least a few scattered solo dates in support of the new album, which is his first solo release in 20 years.
Dates are starting to pop up and based on what I saw last fall, you'd do well to schedule yourself some time with Joe if he's coming to your area.
Stream the title track:
Pictures via Lava Room Recording in Cleveland
I missed the news last week that the first bit of "new" music from Aerosmith will be hitting our ears in June. "New" because it is a Get a Grip-era outtake called "Legendary Child" that will be featured on the soundtrack for the movie G.I. Joe: Retaliation which is set for release on June 29th.
The band has been working on a new album with producer Jack Douglas, the skipper behind many an Aerosmith LP from the golden years of Aero music. "Legendary Child" will apparently also be on the track listing for that new album, freshly re-recorded, so it doesn't appear that it will be a straight port from the original outtake. The band is mixing the track right now.
So will this new Aerosmith album be good? It's hard to say, but as a music fan, I never count Aerosmith out - especially Joe Perry and the rest of the musical portion of the band. With Douglas guiding the ship, I think it's got good potential.
Here's an alleged full instrumental track for "Legendary Child." Take a listen and form your own opinions.