Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Live and crazy

I haven't formally announced it, but the Herald took care of it for me. We're doing a new record (possibly) on Friday -- a live CD.

Cassavettes alive!

Cassavettes has some business to tend to before jumping into the studio.

The blossoming local Americana/folk-rock quartet is aiming to capture its live energy on its next release by hitting the Milkhouse performance space in Allston this weekend to record a private performance for friends and fans. The end result, it’s hoped, will be something for everyone to enjoy.

“The idea is that hopefully this cements us as a strong live act, which has been our general reputation, but could use a boost,” said guitarist Glenn Yoder. “And, equally importantly, (it will cement Cassavettes as) a fun group of dudes. More than anything, it’s a party.”

If the band is pleased with the outcome, the Milkhouse session should appear on disc by the spring.

That should hold over Cassavettes fans until the band records a studio album this summer in Knoxville, Tenn., with producer Don Coffey Jr. of Superdrag.

Cassavettes’ next open-to-the-public gig is Feb. 8 at the Middle East in Cambridge, alongside Drag the River and Girls Guns and Glory.

Should be sweet.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Testing testing

It is all out in the open: I have been working on a solo project. I have not gotten underway with the recording, but I have a fairly good idea of what material I'm going to record and who I'm going to record it with. I didn't want to make any announcement about it before I was positive I was going to do it, but now I am. I told the band last night at practice.

Needless to say, I am quite excited about this project, but this is, in no way, a sign of things going wrong for Cassavettes. Quite on the contrary, I feel like the band is better and stronger than ever (there's an antiquated notion that a solo record is a harbinger for the demise of a group, but I assure you that's not the case). While the group's draw has plateaued in some ways, the band is now at a comfortable state where we can take time off, or skip a practice, or have lives, and still sound good. The band sounds, right now, better than ever. I wondered when this day would come, and it's here. I think the tour had a lot to do with that, as well as figuring out who we are as a band and the sound we make. The band is now at the point that I'm ready to just do it. We're now comfortable accepting whatever's coming to us. If we had a spell of good luck for no reason earlier in our existence, it would have felt fradulent, I think. But now we're ready. We're a good live act, we have two CDs coming out this year (three if you count the aforementioned solo record), and we're best buds doing what we love.

The way to best describe the reason for the solo gig is this: I write a ton of material. The songs start to clog up after awhile and I get very antsy about it. This band has a particular way of playing songs where some work and some don't. Some of my best material, I feel, has gone by the wayside, not because the band couldn't pull it off, but because it didn't fit with what feels right. That's fine. But I need a way to compartmentalize my songs, and this is a great way to do it. After a while, those old songs that have accumulated are like soggy clothes that just need to be aired out and picked up, to make room for new material. In this way, and many others, I feel this will help the band -- as my writing will improve, hopefully.

But it's not just that. This album may do nothing. But it may also do something, and anything it does directly translates to greater exposure and more press for Cassavettes. There's no way that I'm not going to get tagged as a member of Cassavettes by the press, should they review the album. If I license it, it will help me establish myself as a legitimate songwriter while increasing the band's prominence. It's a win-win situation.

Finally, it gives me the opportunity to try new things with different people. Rob Loyot, who produced Girls Guns & Glory's last albums, is producing this record. I've never used a real producer before and I can see what I do and don't like about the process, and see if it's right for Cassavettes' full-length (that we're planning to lay down this summer). This will not stop me from my business duties with Cassavettes -- generally the way I work is that once I get rolling, I pick up steam. So, this should just open more doors and encourage me to work even harder.

The bottom line is this: I'm 22 and I'm out of college. The time is now to make a push in music. I feel like I have the means, contacts, and songs to make some noise, and it would be doing a disservice to myself to not give music as much of a shot as I possibly can. That's what this is all about. Taking on music, wrestling it, and hopefully making it my own.

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Press whipped

Listen, I'm not one to argue with the media. Sure, I think they (we?) can be wrong, and I think every journalist would agree. Furthermore, I'm not interested in biting the hand that feeds me, you dig? But there's something strangely offensive about this article today that covers Rodfest -- and it has nothing to do with Cassavettes, so it isn't about vanity.

This line: "A return to country music came via Girls, Guns & Glory, which featured former members of Moynahan's own failed attempts at playing music." Moynahan, mind you, is Gregory Moynahan, aka Rod, the guy who this festival is all about. Now, I'm not meaning to split hairs here, but who is this writer to call his attempts at music "failed"? He died, so I'm not thinking that that is the most fair assessment of musical talent. Something about that just rubbed me the wrong way.

For the most part, the rest of the article is fairly good and nice, with only two mentions of us (including one calling us "good-natured idiots" -- that's justified, I went onstage with Mike's tiny little shirt on, popped it open with my belly, and danced like a ballerina to and fro with a Red Sox hat I found).

It was up to Cassavettes (whose lead singer Glenn Yoder works for to inject some energy into the show with rootsy takes on power pop, Coldplay-ish anthems and the occasional spitfire country blaster. ... Rogue Heroes gave the evening a stylistic shift, drawing from the post-punk new wave and focusing nerviness and clipped, driving drumbeats into angsty power-trio rock. With members of Cassavettes dancing like good-natured idiots behind them, they provided a totally different (if neatly complementary) energy to the evening, especially on the Dropkick Murphys-like "Good Old Boys Don't Die."

That's all good. Not a kind assessment of the Bowen Street Band ("The sold-out event, ... got off to an unpromising start with the Bowen Street Band, whose jammy ambling offered blues licks without the blues and funk grooves without the funk"), but that's not my beat to cover. This blog is all Cassavettes, all the time. Now, that's vanity for you.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

In Rod we trust

Friday was the first truly great night of the new year. Just what we needed after a lackluster New Year's Eve show.

For the second straight year, we played Rodfest -- now in its sixth year. I can tell you with relative certainty that the three best shows we played in 2007 were the Kings of Leon show, our two-year anniversary, and, yes, Rodfest. It's a great time, a celebration of life, and the Paradise gets packed fast. Again, it sold out.

Last year, while I had a lot of fun, it got to be a bit of a bummer because I was in a fight and just generally not in a great mood by the end of the night. This year, we knew all the other bands a lot more, so we felt more involved, and we had a sweet time, beginning to end. If anything, I feel like I went on stage too much, after refusing to do so last year. Hey, I was partying. It was pretty much flawless, as far as party night go. See Sooz's photos here.

SET LIST: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / On the Lam / You'll Be Crying Soon / Golden Fleece / Madeline (debut) / Loose Lips / Shotgun Wedding / I Come From the Water / Shine a Light

Last night, a group of us drove down to Hartford, Ct., to see Mike fill in on guitar for Three Day Threshold. The boy was nervous, having been literally thrown into this, but he swam for sure. No sinking. It was a good show; the band sounded good, people were dancing. The only bummer of the night was that my car nearly got towed, Kier had to pay off the tow company, and they ended up ripping off my spare tire cover. I'm not really interested in re-telling the whole sordid affair, but needless to say, we made it home albeit quite angry and perplexed.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Drag the River show flyer

Thanks to Chris for passing along this flyer for our Feb. 8 show with Drag the River, GGG and Barn Burning. We're super psyched about this one -- awesome bands, awesome times. Get your tickets now by clicking here or from Ticketmaster here! I fully expect this one to be a capacity crowd.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

New Year's photos

Photos from our New Year's Eve show at Copperfield's are up now at Check them out!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A fresh start

Last night, after all was said and done, Matt said he wished he had pulled the plug on New Year's. I'm not in the same boat -- I had a great time and it was better than nothing -- but there were indeed some serious miscalculations. I'm not certain what happened, but I do feel as though we got ripped off. We were on the cusp of a really great New Year's Eve show in front of a lot of people, and we did our best, and it just didn't materialize. I'll say we did the best we could with what was at hand. If I could go back three months and do it differently, believe me, I would. It wouldn't be at Copperfield's, for one (keep in mind, this is the place where we did a show right when the band started, a cancer benefit, and a bartender yelled at us, "Turn it down, this isn't fucking Fenway Park." That didn't happen this time, close though. That dude was there and looked PISSED). But alas, we ended the night on a sour note after getting rough 1/6 of what we expected to get paid. Not that payment is everything, but it was sort of a barometer of the success of the night -- which means low. Low success. And the sinking feeling of getting robbed. To top it all off, I got pulled over by a cop after dropping Mike off, and the cop asks TD and I, "Where are you folks headed?" I say I'm just a couple streets away from my house. "Reason I pulled you over is we've got a car that was just stolen that matches this description, but you folks are fine, head on home." Oh really? You have a white soccer mom van, a hot commodity amongst thiefs, with silly Virginia vanity plates that matched the description? It just happened to be on New Year's Eve when you're out patrolling and looking for ANY excuse to pull somebody over and try to nail them for drinking and driving? You could tell this guy was lying and was slightly disappointed that I was stonecold sober. Cool.

Now, the show was fun, that's for sure. Each band did two sets, so we played at about 10 p.m. and a little past midnight. Both sets were pretty rocking, a lot of movement and what not. Scott transferred his usual stage move, unplugging himself, to me, and unplugged me at least 10 times, always when it would go to a part where just I play ("Debts," "Empire Central," etc.), but he was rocking, so what are you going to do. My distortion also kept mysteriously flickering on in quiet songs, and I'd look down and Scott would be rolling on the ground atop my pedals. Very strange. This was the first time, I believe, the band played two covers in one set that wasn't a cover set, like Halloween. We brought back Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl," which Scott shredded on, and tried the Toadies' "I Come From the Water." Man, that Toadies tune takes it out of my voice. We did the back-to-back-to-back combo of "Shotgun," Toadies, and "Shine a Light," and I walked offstage with hardly a voice. But that's cool. Quite rocking.
SET 1: Debts / It's Gonna Be Alright / On the Lam / You'll Be Crying Soon / Cinnamon Girl / Trouble from the Start / Whitewashed / Golden Fleece

SET 2: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / The Nadir / Research Blvd. / Empire Central / Loose Lips / Shotgun Wedding / I Come From the Water / Shine a Light

The cool thing about the two sets idea is that it gave us a break, a chance to mingle on NYE and watch our two buddy bands and dance wildly. Definitely a fun time. I knew it would be a night to remember, I just wish it had been organized differently.

Today, I'm going to check out a studio for a possible recording project. Hopefully, all goes well. In the meantime, check out the madness from last night, including Cassavettes rocker Mike McCullagh in front of a giant photo of his rock idol Elvis. Pretty cool. More photos coming later from a pro who was shooting them there!

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