Another brand new Suburbs album? March 26 2017, 1 Comment

Here’s what happens. I walk by the piano looking at it out of the side of my eye. This can go on for weeks. The piano is perfectly innocent, no blame can be laid on it. It’s entirely me and my mood. Me and my Muse, maybe... We are the fickle ones. Truth be told, the piano is a blameless, amiable and pleasant companion. A real boon to the household. But sometimes I can’t look it straight in the eye. I walk on by.

Then comes a day when I walk straight up to the piano and, with a great smile on my face, embrace it with open arms. “Where have you been, old friend?” I say, placing my coffee cup on a small table (placed there entirely for the purpose of holding my various cups). “Tell me a story!” And I’m playing again, improvising and writing, and quite content.

Why days and weeks can go by (and years) without this feeling, indeed feeling the opposite, almost shunning the poor creature (the piano), I do not know. I have had various theories.

So we eventually come to the point where my visits to my old friend (Is this becoming too precious? Let’s just call her 'Steinway') have produced enough nuggets to share with the rest of the band. We gather at various rehearsal rooms, studios, bars and restaurants and bat these nuggets like so many balls of colorful yarn around. (Sorry, mixed metaphors are accumulating...) Sometimes they come together into full blown arrangements very fast. Sometimes they take years of experimenting to reach their full potential.

For instance the song “Lost You On The Dance Floor” from this new album was an entirely different animal when we first started recording it. I didn’t really even know what it was about. Until one day I woke up with something in my head that I knew was “it”, and we went into the studio and threw an entire year or more of work into the trash. We started over. And that song is now one of my favorite on the record.

Which makes me at this point want to interrupt my self-centered tale to thank and introduce the open-minded, flexible, amazing artists that make up The Suburbs now. This process would not succeed if they all were to a man and woman any less than the generous, open, loving, curious, talented and skilled people that they are.

After Bruce Allen passed away and Michael Halliday retired from the stage, we started this new incarnation with inviting Stevie Brantseg to join us. Stevie B. was an old friend from the Twin/Tone days, one of the best guitarists in a town with (admit it) a lot of great musicians. But there was something more to Stevie. He “got” the initial vibe of the band, particularly the idiosyncratic quirk that Bruce C. Allen brought to it. And he continues to bring his own rock star panache to the new songs and the old.

Next we invited Steve Price to join us. I asked my friends in the New Standards, John Munson and Steve Roehm, who are both great bass players (ok, John is the best), who they would recommend. They both said “Steve Price” without hesitation. I think everyone who pays attention to the scene (and the album credits) also knows that Steve P. is a great recording studio engineer and producer too. He was in the trenches on this new album from Day 1.

We’ve always been blessed to have our old friend Max Ray and (his wife) Rochelle as the rock bottom of a horn section that we’ve had part of our sound since I decided to write that silly horn line from “Love Is The Law”. (Sorry, it’s not silly. It’s exciting!!) Max comes from venerable musical stock, playing with Willy Murphy and the West Bank dudes, and of course the notorious Wallets. Round that section out with one of my favorite all-around musicians, Stephen Kung on trumpet and keyboards, and... what can I say? Cool Magic.

When we lost our old friend Beej, we asked the extremely talented Jeremy Yvilsaker (nicknamed for purposes of this band Jerome) if he’d fill in the 2nd guitar slot. Now, the absence of Beej is no light matter, and Jerome made it clear that he by no means would want to be construed to have tried to “take Beej’s place”. We all know that would be impossible. But Mr. Yvilsaker said he would very much like to play guitar and bring his own thing to the group. He did, and he does. And it is amazing.

Last, but not least, we come to Janey Winterbauer. With all lead vocal duties falling to me now, I sought at long last some real harmonic firepower to bolster the vocal sound. To my delight, Janey agreed to join this nutty crew.

Have we covered everyone? Oh yeah. Hugo is on drums. And me, I play the piano and sing.

And we have a brand new Suburbs album ready for you!

Hope you enjoy it.