Maximum Americana is how I'd describe the sound and attitude of my new record. Me and our engineer Dave Lee wanted to capture a live, roots-rockin' garagey vibe with just two guitars, bass, and drums. This way we could minimize any overdubs and over thinking that seems to happen when you record in ProTools. I love the organic, swampy-pop sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival and the haggard country blues of 'Let It Bleed' era Stones, so we cut the basic tracks in one room in one or two takes. We recorded in ProTools at Boondog Studios in Chelsea and The Viewing Room in New Jersey which is this old farm house in a cemetery. Everyone played together with a few baffles here and there to keep their amps from bleeding too much into each other's microphones. In New Jersey I had my amp in the basement of the house and we all jumped around in the dining room. It helped to keep the dead spirits away. Songs like 'Farmer's Daughter,' 'Love Saves The Day, 'Dead End,' and 'Cherry Red Mustang' just have that drive that you get when all the amps are cranked and the drums and bass are bashing away. Unfortunately I got a little carried away and my vocals ended up bleeding on to some of the ambient drum mics so Dave had to extract them with his digital surgery skills. David Water's a serious musician, a guitarists' guitarist. He studied at Berkley, was friends with Reeves Grabel (Tin Machine, David Bowie), and has played in some amazing bands in Boston and New York. Legend has it that he nearly made into The Pretenders but Chrissie opted for an UK-based guitarist and Dave missed his chance to blow her away. She would have dug the fact that he was born and raised in Cleveland, I think. What can I say about Pete DeMeo. He's the human metronome. He drummed for the legendary NYC-based roots-rock band 5 Chinese Brothers. On 'Devil's Handmaid' I couldn't hold my waltz rhythm together so he played along with me on my pants leg, accenting the one on the down beat so I could keep time with the click. It's such a long song that I kept rushing every time it jumped to the bridge and we didn't want to do a cut-and-paste on it. It was pretty intense. I almost gave him 'pants' credit on the record. Tony Oppenheimer plays with me in GIANTfingers. He has this amazing melodic approach to my songs. What make's it so cool is that he's not really a bass player so he approaches the bass with a fresh dynamic. Not to take anything away from Marc Landesberg who is a monster bassist and has played with me for years; you can hear him ripping up the bottom on 'Dead End' and 'Dusty Road.' Then there's Preacher Boy (Eagle-Eye Cherry) who played demented banjo and harmonized on 'Let The Wind Blow' and tore up his National on 'Dead End.' Real tasty stuff. I wanted to get some big, earthy background vocals like those old Delaney & Bonnie records so Dave enlisted Queen Esther to lend her big, earthy voice to 'Cuts Like A Blade' and 'Love Saves The Day.' And Sonya Hensley's voice absolutely kills on 'Watching Angels Cry' and 'The Devil's Handmaid.' Jennifer Blake (Ryan Adams) drops some sweet vocal support on 'Cherry Red Mustang' and 'Farmer's Daughter.' Quite honored to have them on board. Why the title Elevened? Most country records have a fairly strict policy of releasing a CD with just 10 songs. Eleven is just one better, isn't it? Plus while I love the Nashville song form I negotiate a little edgier music terrain having lived and gigged in New York for the past decade. I hope you enjoy my music. Now turn it up!
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