Live album news and other confessions
GOBBLE GOBBLE BITCHES!
Wow, two blog posts in a month? The kid is on a roll! Hope everyone is well and you enjoyed a long holiday weekend stuffing your faces with your family and friends!
So since I have some rare downtime, I wanted to write again with some latest news and other things I wanted to chat about so buckle in.
So if you noticed on our social media sites, we announced that will be coming out with OUR FIRST LIVE ALBUM very very soon! It kind of happened as almost a happy accident and now that it’s becoming a reality I’m extremely excited about releasing and sharing it with the streaming world!
The way it came about was at our album release party at A Common Ground in September. I knew that Gary had set up video to take of us and the other bands that night, which we shared a few of the songs in video form since then, but I had no idea our pal had also recorded the audio from the board as well. I knew the songs on the video sounded good, but I wasn’t aware we recorded audio as well separately. I was just happy with the footage we had cause you know any content is good content!
So one night after rehearsal, Shawn mentioned that he asked Gary for copies of the songs from the show so he could practice his parts along with it at home so Gary send over the songs from the gig in actual separate tracks from the board! Shawn being the studio evil mastermind that he is started playing around with the songs at his own recording studio to see what he could do with it.
So one night after we finished rehearsal and we were doing our usual hang outside the studio for a bit Shawn says “Hey, check this out I was mixing the tracks from the last gig in my studio let me know what you think” and in his car he starts blaring “Leftover Romance” from the show.
I couldn’t believe how good it sounded!
Not only could I hear every instrument clearly and everything as a whole was mixed well, we sounded super tight and sounded like we were playing friggin MSG. I was so shocked and delighted I immediately responded “Holy shit dude, can you do this for the rest of the show? We need to release this!”
A few weeks and 12 songs later Shawn sent over the rest and we have ourselves a killer live album to release which I have been calling it “All the Clams Live!”
Now full disclosure, I’ve never really have been a fan of “live albums” to be honest when I would see other more well named artists release. With the very few exceptions of the classics like Kiss “Alive!”, Ted Nugent “Double Live Gonzo” and a few others for the most part especially in this day and age you tend to want the visual experience to go along with it. Plus If I’m at home watching YouTube of well shot concerts, I’ll check out maybe one song or two and get bored. I wasn’t there and I already have these songs from the studio release why do I want a copy of the same song live?
However, when it came to my own music with this live album not only do you get to hear how the CAB performs these songs live (which at times can be dramatically different than the album) a lot of the songs on this live album you get to hear even a better sounding, more energetic version of them which is how I always wanted them to sound in the first place.
In the two years before HEAL in 2015 and the release of “Elephants…” at the end of 2017, Not only was I a mess personally in many ways for most of it (more on that later), the band had been through A LOT of lineup changes.
Besides Helene who has been a champion since the beginning, I went from just singing to playing guitar and keyboards, even jumping back on the bass. Since we started in I think early 2015 we’ have had 3 different rhythm guitar players, 2 different drummers, a few different people playing bass on and off not to mention a few others who just came and went. We bounced around from 4 to 5 to 6 members at one point. If you look at some of the videos I posted on my YouTube page you can see all of it good, bad and indifferent. As much as I would say to myself “I want The Critically Ashamed Band to be more of a revolving lineup of cool interesting people to back me up” It was beyond frustrating.
Coming up on the end of 2017, after having these songs demoed and completed with programmed drums with no hope of booking professional studio time (or the funds to do it) for almost 2 years I finally said “fuck it, I’m releasing it the way it is” I loved the songs I wrote for it, I was already moving on creatively writing “Glamour & Filth” and just like the title of the album itself, I was ready to bury it and move on.
I mixed it as best I could, I had Shawn and Helene come over to record some tracks on some of the songs, threw it up in LANDR and sent it out. No big release parties, no pressing of physical copies this time, I just wanted it finished.
Sonically is it as good as the others? Not even close, but we were already playing a lot of the songs from the album live in all of the different incarnations of the band when we did play, so at the time I didn’t care. I still feel to this day that a lot of those songs on that album are some of the best I’ve ever written so what was I gonna do? Wait another few months or even a year to release, spend money I didn’t have to make $8 back in streaming sales every month or so? I was already knee deep working on the songs at my home studio that would be called “Glamour and Filth” and if you read past entries I was close to just saying “fuck it” again and releasing that album the same way since I didn’t want the hassle. I figured “Well, If I can’t keep a band together I can still release content to scratch my creative itch”
Then when 2018 came a ton of things happened to me for the way, way better.
Before 2018 came around I was able to convince one of my good friends Noah to join the band on keyboards to free me up from running back and forth. Not only is Noah 100X better and more proficient on piano as I am, he can also play other instruments like guitar, mandolin and even stuff like Banjo and has a killer, killer voice. I knew his commitment was iffy since he travels a lot for work and has a ton of other things going on (I can’t WAIT for you to hear his own solo release!) I always told him “no pressure, you show up when you can to practice and even gigs and we can figure it out” that was the deal we have, but when you listen to what Noah contributes to my songs live musically there’s NO WAY we can NOT have him in this band! He always try to play it down with the “I suck I don’t know what I’m doing” but when you listen to this live album you can hear the depth and coolness he adds.
Then we were able to acquire my good friend Gary Sofko to the mix as our drummer and THAT changed everything! I asked him to fill in on drums for some prior gig commitments we had already thinking it would just be “a favor” and after the gigs he would be off to other things, but THANK GOD when I asked him to stay on as a permanent member of the band not only did he agree, he was instrumental (see what I did there?) in helping me finish “Glamour & Filth” by playing/recording drums for the album, mixing and then mastering with me.
When he agreed to help me with the album and I sent him the songs he didn’t want the programmed drum tracks I had on there already (nor did I want to send) because much like this live album Gary put his own style to the songs sometimes changing the overall sound of the song completely for the better!
It was fun getting them back and sometimes it would take me a few listens since I had the programmed drum beats in my head for a few months already but we would say “wow, that was close to what was there before” or there was songs like “Peg” and “Life” which were completely different sounding and I loved what he added to the songs. It was very much the feel I had with Darrell when we did HEAL together in the beginning which I missed.
Then the biggest change to me happened. I took my last drink of alcohol on March 10th and have been sober ever since. then. That’s an entry in itself, which I will get into separately when I can.
So when “Glamour & Filth” was released in September and before we stumbled into this live album I was thinking of having Gary record live drums for some of the songs from Elephants to make them better and re-release as a bonus EP, but now with this live album? We don’t need to because these versions of the Elephants songs like “resurrection”, “Soursome:”, “I Talked To The Devil” and “End of an Error” are WAY BETTER THAN THE STUDIO ALBUM.
Even made an album cover too
So once the lineup started to stick and even before that when I put together The Critically Ashamed Band, when we get in the room to rehearse (especially now) they have the songs from the album, they have the chord progressions but when we would play the songs the guys (and girl) put their own “stank” to the songs to the point where when you hear us live, It’s a much different feel and sound to the songs. Everyone from Shawn’s tasty riff ideas to Noah playing the mandolin or acoustic guitar with us on some songs, to Gary’s never waving tempo and heavy beats and Helene’’s “substance” over my “style” of playing guitar? To me personally even though I write all of the songs sometimes I feel like the weakest member of the band HA!
I’ll admit when we would rehearse in the beginning it used to irk me a little at first. My own ego would be like “what the fuck why aren’t they playing what was written?” but once I would listen back it’s exactly what I wanted in the first place. My name might be in the front, but I always wanted the band to be a unique character of their own with each member bringing their talents to the table and making the live experience different than what you heard on the record. Whenever I perform live I always like to change a phrase, a melody just a hair different than what’s on the record to make it unique. Who wants to hear a band, especially when you see them live to sound EXACTLY like the record? That validates the point I made in the beginning!
So I hope when you guys hear it you dig it. I loved this experience and the new lineup of the band so much, the next album for 2019 will be tracked LIVE as a FULL BAND just like in “the old days”. Five friends locked away somewhere sweating away as one unit. One person fucks up? Do it again from the beginning till it’s right. It’s something I wanted to do for a long time and hopefully we can capture the vibe that we do on stage locked away in some creepy “Evil Dead” cabin recording.