Friday, October 31, 2008

Running scared

Some big, SCARY decisions are coming soon. Fitting since it's Halloween today, and only a half-week from the biggest, scariest decision Americans have faced in awhile. Will we stick with our current recording plan or head elsewhere? Will we, perhaps since it's now nearly impossible to prevent, put out some close friends? If you think it's you I'm talking about, you're wrong. Don't worry.

Last night, we played in Providence to a meager crowd (it looked good for awhile until all the people dressed as the Joker left, and just Aram and GGG was there). That's OK. We didn't promote it, and we haven't been there in a long, long time. I love Jake's, it's a great bar. I didn't love that the Mavs lost on opening night, but I did love that the staff of Jake's put the game on for us. As far as how we played, err, it was OK. I wouldn't say I was bowled over, but it was sturdy. About where we need to be. Last week, the band cut some roughs at the Jamspot for our upcoming record, so we are in full refinement mode. We played one old one last night that was, now, new. We had never played it live before, as it was left on the floor of our last practice space in Everett. Still, it sounded good and rocking. From here, we keep molding our sound and playing with each other, and trim the songs. We're getting there. Inch by inch.
SET LIST: A Hard Rain / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Cedar / NEW, OLD SONG (debut) / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

We met with Jack Gauthier, who engineered my record, last night in West Greenwich, R.I., about doing a bit of work on this upcoming Cassavettes album. He is a great guy, very Henry Winkler-esque, and he is all about it. But alas, we are pretty set in what's going on at the moment, so unless something derails, the train is staying on track. We meet with our would-be producer this Wednesday, and then collectively make a decision from there.

In album-related news, Mike has announced his plans to shave off his burgeoning beard, which he pledged months ago to not cut until the record was finished. Not released, just finished. Right now, we're eyeballing late January. But he's giving up! (Truth is, I've been feeling as if he's been cheating along the way, since he's been trimming it frequently. I think if this was truly an all-in kind of thing, he would just let it grow.) Either way, the point remains... I'm no style expert, but I can tell you with extreme confidence that ever since Mike started growing the beard (about two months ago? post-wedding?), he has become more funny, better smelling, and definitely more handsome. But he won't listen to me. Voice your opinion in the comments section of this blog and talk Mike off the ledge. Or off the chin, I suppose.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 27, 2008

A minute of Toadies talk

I have been surprised lately -- not just by the sheer volume of folks who still love the Toadies, but how many know that we are playing with them next month when we haven't promoted it even a little bit. At my show at Toad, people asked me about it all night long. Last night at the Jamspot, some dudes asked us about it. Our friends knew more often than not before I told them. I know we're on the Paradise website and in the Live Nation emails (actually, that very well may be the culprit -- see below, bottom right), but still.

Anyhow, as far as the show is concerned, we couldn't be more excited. Growing up in Dallas, it's truly incredible to get offered a chance to play with a local band we all collectively idolized. I never realized how big they were outside the Metroplex, no matter how many singles they had on KDGE. And considering we've been covering "I Come From the Water" for the past year or so, it makes it all the better (no, we aren't playing it at the Paradise show).

The fact that we're on the show is a testament to persistence, more than anything. I've been finding myself telling curious peoples that the show "fell from the sky," which isn't exactly true. In classic Cassavettes pesky form, we heard about the show before it was announced and were one of the first to inquire. We were turned down. Didn't need local support; the show was close to selling out already and they had a band on tour with them. And the Paradise usually only has two bands per night. We set our sights on opening another show around that time with another Dallas band we love, but that didn't work out either. Rejection is constant, truthfully. Then, months later, and after the show sold out, the Toadies management decided they wanted a local on board. Due to earlier nagging, we were in the position to succeed, which is half the battle -- no, 99.9 percent of the battle.

Anyhow, by that point, we had already joined a show at TT's with Jesse Malin (I don't regret this AT ALL, especially since the Toadies show is SOLD OUT) on Nov. 6. And since the Paradise is sold out, I truly hope you come party with us at TT's on that night. We don't have tickets to the Paradise, as I've told MANY, so I apologize.

Either way, the reason I tell you this story is that it just shows you a couple valuable lessons of this industry: Don't be disheartened by rejection (it's often not personal, and it's too frequent to let it get to you -- just move on) and that putting yourself in the position to succeed is the closest thing to ensuring success (and even then, it more often that not does NOT ensure SHIT).

Needless to say, we're psyched.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Toad-y

Good times last night. I tried a solo show at Toad. It was cool to try something a bit different, get out there with a new group of guys and see how it sounded. Things were a bit wayward at times, but on the whole, these guys are good: hey, they made charts. If that doesn't prove that they were more committed than me, I don't know what does.

I really didn't know what to expect going into this. Would anyone show up? Does anyone care? I still don't really have answers on either of those, because while the show DID reach capacity repeatedly throughout the night (cool, but then again Toad is SMALL, like 65 capacity), it probably had little to do with us. I think it was just a Friday night crowd, looking for drinks and some tunes, not necessarily a DRAW. But as a result, Scott, AJ, and Joe had to wait at the door for awhile. That was weird. I couldn't even coerce the guy into letting them in. Still felt good, though. I like to watch them suffer.

Anyhow, like I said, the set was pretty good. We only did one practice in advance, and only ran through each song once, with a couple of exceptions. They just listened to my CD and learned it. Pretty good, on their part. They being Jeff Katz, Josh Kiggans, and Seth Adams, I should say. We don't have a name for them just yet, though there were plenty of crude suggestions last night. Also, who knows if this is a set lineup. It was just some fun times out at Toad. Playing music and having a few beers. I hope to do it again soon.





SET LIST 1 (band): Til the Wheels Fall Off / Okono Road / The Rain's Not Far Behind / A Thousand Ways / Just Like You / Green & White / Give Me a Moment / Home (extended jam version)
ACOUSTIC SET: Ambivalent Farewells / Set Free / Bad Luck / Like Secrets Beneath (w/ Mike) / If the Devil Steals My Soul / Seasons / Rainy Days
SET LIST 2 (band): Broken Beaten & Blue / It's Gonna Take Time / Alone / You Led Me Into Your Love (also an extended jam)

A little pre-show press here.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fave five (...or super seven?)

I don't know why I forgot to post this for the past couple days (or week). Being a complete moron has its downsides. Anyhow...

Following in the tradition paved by Sir Charles Barkley and Dwayne Wade, Ryan of the magnificent Ryan's Smashing Life weblog was recently interviewed about his five favorite Boston bands by Boston T Parties. Lo and behold, he chose Cassavettes -- as 5c (or No. 7 if you want to get technical). Either way, the love is appreciated. Also appearing on the list are our good buddies The Motion Sick and Static of the Gods, and a few bands I have yet to check out but definitely will soon.
Current Boston favorites “If I didn’t include you on this one, it doesn’t mean I don’t love ya!” List
(if you squint real close it may actually look like seven, but I couldn’t omit any of these.)

1. Static of the Gods - sensational rock band - new material, national tour
2. Tom Thumb - absolutely brilliant songwriter - new album
3. Vivian Darkbloom - great new sound, great live - new singles, working on album
4. The Motion Sick - fun, addictive smart rock - new album
5a. Muy Cansado - amazing songs and so catchy - new album
5b. The Sunsets Quick - red hot and shiny new - new album
5c. Cassavettes - I can’t forget about them. Just a sensational, fluid indie rock group. - New live album


Thanks, Ryan! If you don't have Halloween plans, head to TT the Bear's for RSL's Halloween bash, which includes our old friends THE TEENAGE PRAYERS!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

That's a wrap

As L Ro has reminded me, I have not blogged and updated my loyal readers about how our swing through New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania went last week. My apologies. Things have been most unruly since we returned, but I assure you, I have not forgotten about you. Let's take it a day at a time.

Thursday, Kingston, N.Y.
This night will be remembered more for the accommodations than for the show itself. The show, at a bar called The Basement, was fairly unmemorable -- we played poorly, and I blew up at Scott a bit about it the next day. In actuality, it didn't matter since no one was really there, but considering that the point of these shows is to play better and learn the new songs, it was a failure. Anyhow, that isn't to say there were lots of "let's just let this happen" memories on this date. I tried to sleep in the van for the first time before the show, since I was tired and definitely sending bad vibes to the rest of the band that way (Matt later drunkenly yelled at me about this, before forgetting pretty much everything for the remainder of the trip. My memory, on the other hand, was better than ever for some odd reason. A total role reversal). The feeling around The Basement was a lot like a worse-off version of The Oasis in New London -- a group of friends running the bar and being cool to us. But this didn't bring in the locals like New London does, and I wasn't drinking (as I am scaling back a bit), so there weren't many Oasis-type moments. Anyhow, the accommodations I mentioned were this: we stayed in the house of the dudes who worked at the bar, in which one of them didn't have a room. After we showed up from a late stop at a diner, he was asleep on the couch. We fended for ourselves and found spots on the floor to curl up. I slept halfway under a pool table with a leather jacket for a pillow. Halfway through the night, I woke up shivering to find that they were missing a door, and in place of it had a screendoor with no screen, providing direct contact with the sub-40 degree air outside. I switched my jacket to blanket duty and used my bag as a pillow. Mike slept next to two fighting dragon lizards, and said he was warmed by their heating lamp. Matt had the best deal, finding a foam mat to sleep on, promptly falling asleep and snoring his ass off.

SET LIST: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Don't Get Me Wrong / Lights On / Golden Fleece / On the Lam / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

Friday, New York, N.Y.
If Kingston will be remembered for the accommodations, then this Manhattan show will definitely be remembered for the post-show spiderweb I drove into. At least by me. The show at the Mean Fiddler went ok -- well, pretty good, but not great. Par for the course, really. We got the "judge" on our side (didn't really matter), played an OK show through subpar equipment (we had to use their stage setup), and saw Holly, Joe Bug, Steve, some old friends, including my childhood friend, Dan. Twas good. What wasn't good was this... After the show, I went to get the van to load out our stuff... the club is on a street directly adjacent to Times Square, so Matt, Erin, and I are driving through the Square with bumper-to-bumper weekend/Times Square traffic. We're not moving for five minutes so I pick up the phone to call Mike and tell him we're running late, but only have to go one block... Before the phone EVEN connects, a cop WALKS up to my window and says, "Is there any reason you're on your cell phone?" I didn't even think about it. "Do you know its against new york state law to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Pull over to the side of the road." He stops 4 lanes of traffic, makes me pull over and sit there for 15 minutes, then slaps me with a $120 ticket! Then to top it all off, he shows back up and says "Hey, is your last name really Yoder?" Laughs and says, "It's a standard issue ticket." I grumbled something about not trying to be my friend after this and how there should be a warning for out-of-state plates for first time cell phone offenses. Give me a break. Of course, he didn't. But he did successfully ruin my night. After we finally loaded up, Matt went off with Erin, and the three other Cassavettes went to Mike's relatives place in Queens. I slept on a leather chair after losing a coin toss to Scott for the air mattress. It was a good sleep, though.
SET LIST: Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light


Saturday, Dewey Beach, DE

It seems we can't replicate our fun from the first time we went to Dewey Beach -- one year ago, to be exact. Since then, we've gone back three other times (this visit included), with nowhere near the same reaction. It's been a combination of bad luck (hurricanes, early time slots at some shows) and really bad luck (getting a great time slot on the outdoor stage finally, only to be hit with a cold snap). Either way, we had a lot of fun at this show, playing to folks who were there for music. They got up and danced. You can always say that about Delaware folk. They love music. It's a rarity these days. This show also had musicians who love music, some of which we partied with after the show. Turns out, some guys were staying a couple rooms over from us in the hotel and wanted to do big campfire-type singalongs with mandolin and acoustic guitars. Not really my thing normally, but it was fun. We had Shiner, too, which was cool. Again, I didn't sleep much, but I was able to take my first shower of the tour (actually, I took two!), so that was a bonus.
SET LIST: Don't Get Me Wrong / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Lights On / On the Lam / Cedar / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

Sunday, Philadelphia, PA
The day the Sox season ended. That was a bigger deal than this show at The Fire (and I'm not much of a baseball fan), which had the poorest attendance and least fun of any night of the tour. On the plus side, we were right down the street from Johnny Brenda's where we played with Superdrag last time we were in Philly, so we went there for drinks before the show. It's a cool bar. In fact, Philly has A LOT of cool bars (we went to a little bars section after the gig), many of which I wish were in Boston. We also got cheesesteaks earlier in the day, which was another perk of playing Philly. So, see, all hope wasn't lost. The true accomplishment of the day came when I managed to fix my car (with some telephone Googling by my parents) after it went haywire and refused to lock. When we finally alleviated the problem after a tense 15 minutes, my mother cheered loudly over the phone and likened it to coaching someone through giving birth to a baby or landing an airplane. I just felt good. We stayed with Matt's sister in King of Prussia and then headed for Boston the next morning.
SET LIST (to the best of my recollection): There's a Reason / Golden Fleece / Madeline / St. Anthony / The Devil's Arms (w/ an extended jam) / Someday Darling / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding

I've got a big show Friday at Toad, playing solo with a band for the first time (yes, an oxymoron, but it makes sense, I promise). Show starts at 10 p.m. See you there?

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Out of practice

Cassavettes hasn't practiced in awhile. Something keeps coming up. We took breaks, Matt had a gig, Ward took the PA out of the space. Whatever the reason, I'm wondering how we'll sound in Kingston, NY tomorrow. It may be batting practice. Luckily, we'll have a couple days to get back into the groove this weekend, on a four-date swing. The van ought to hold up after its massive reconstruction.

More than anything, we need to practice to start exercising some new songs and getting a final list of 15-18 songs ready for the record. Once we're there, we can trim in the studio down to 10-12 songs, depending on how things come out, how they feel, etc. We'll focus on tone and groove, two important concepts that we have not gotten across yet. I have a couple newer ideas that I think would fit on this record -- a ROCK record, our first. That doesn't mean it's going to be aggressive all the time. There's always a place for a good ballad or midtempo change of pace. But as always, the best songs win. I'm not attached to any particular tunes right now -- or have such a strong allegiance that I'd let it negatively affect the true focus of this record: to make a great rock record. We have to be completely open to criticism, from the inside and the outside. I'm ready to get started, and I'm sure the guys are too, but we have to get ready together first.

Anyhow, this will be our final big exercise, it appears, before we record. We'll have a couple short trips, but as it stands now, we're looking to get started in December or January, and I'm not setting much else up. So the band's tightness depends not on touring anymore, but listening to each other and working hard in practice. So here's to hoping this swing gets us to a good place:
Oct 16 - The Basement, Kingston, NY
Oct 17 - The Mean Fiddler, New York, NY (MEANYfest)
Oct 18 - The Rusty Rudder, Dewey Beach, DE (Americanafest)
Oct 19 - The Fire, Philadelphia, PA

Labels: , ,

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Getting Real

Real Worcester, that is. Gabe Rollins, veteran music journalist over at the blog gives us some love for our WPI gig last week.
I was a little upset to find out after the fact that Boston indie rockers and all around rockin good band Cassavettes played by all reports a killer show last Friday at WPI. It just goes to show folks that you can sit at home complaining there isn’t any good music going on or you can go out and do some exploring and some asking around and find something great, because it is there, you just have to look for it.

Read our wrap-up here. Still can't get photos of that show, despite my best efforts.

I need to get tickets to Neil Young/Wilco in December, but alas, money is low due to the car-fixing that went on earlier this week. Are they even still available?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Travel blues

This week is the first week we've had off in about seven weeks. In that time, we played 14 shows. It's nice to get a little break, even if it feels less like a break when you're away from your work.

Actually, we also took a break from practice last Thursday and this Monday, just to decompress a bit. The band is playing pretty well -- not at the high level we were at when we returned from tour last year, which was my hope for this seven-week stint -- but still solid. We still have off nights, consistency problems, and for some reason, have recently been told by several industry folks that our "swamp rock" style of being dirty and loose is cool. I hesitantly agree... to an extent. Either way, we intend to keep hitting the following markets, hopefully in clumps: New York, Washington DC (canceled show last month was a big drawback), Philadelphia, Providence (working on it, and playing there on the 30th is a good start), New London (just because it's so much fun), Portland, Burlington (we need to break into this). I've been talking to a couple folks about getting shows together up north, but really I need to hit these markets hard.

We'll see if the van can take it. On Monday, I took it in for a $1,400 tune-up. Ouch.

The band will head out next week for four shows in as many nights, before finally quieting down again. As we move toward the record, the key is to refine our song list and really work to tighten the song structures. Right now, we're eyeballing December as our recording date (March as our release date).

But we've got a couple of big things on the horizon, and November should be a landmark month for us. I'll fill you in more on that later, as the details surface. But suffice it to say, we're pleased with where things are at.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Thirds

Here's the sentiment I heard from many (that means more than a few) folks last night after our show at the Middle East Upstairs: "Really good set, especially the last third." Or, "Kind of shakey start, but the last third was awesome." Or, "Your guitar was out of tune for one song, but then you fixed it. And the last part of the set was really good." Or my personal favorite, from a new Cassaconvert, "You guys are really good. Not harsh and melodic (editor's note: say what?), but a good vibe. And the last part of the set was a really good vibe."

OK, so apparently, we started slow last night? I'm not sure if I noticed, beyond the fact that our guitars kept falling out of tune at first (damn you, new strings!) and Mike and I were both WAY off in "Debts." I was begging my voice to move up, but I was just flat until we hit "On the Lam." So, perhaps those are the reasons. But truth be told, it didn't really matter. The show was a ton of fun, people were letting the good times roll, and we had one of our sweatiest and most fun nights in some time. Long story short, it's good to be playing in Boston again. It's been too long.




SET LIST: Don't Get Me Wrong / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Debts / On the Lam / Lights On / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

And there was good news from the show last night. Our probable producer was there to check us out live for the first time, and liked what he saw. "Good DNA onstage" was his review, if that counts for anything. Is it in Cassavettes' collective blood to have a righteous time partying together onstage? Methinks so.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Whisked away to...Worcester


Well, we certainly didn't see this coming. Last night's show in Worcester was, hands down, AWESOME. We played at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute for their annual pep rally, which, from the looks when we arrived, was going to be a few people at best. But by sundown, these crazy Worcester-dwelling kids were out in full force on the quad, looking to party and get free swag. We gave away a lot of stuff, but it all balanced out, really.

College shows are sweet for a couple reasons: 1) good money and 2) enthusiastic folks. Number 2, however, should be amended to say SOMETIMES. In this case, these kids were all about having a good time. They pressed right up on the big, well-lit stage we had and danced, did the wave, cheered for the goat/engineering mascot and a lion (for some reason), showed us their unique talents for free shirts, waved their rally flags, whatever. It was really cool. Not only that, but the school gave us a nice green room, free food and drinks and what not. Talk about hospitality. I hope pictures surface!
SET 1: Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / You'll Be Crying Soon / Don't Get Me Wrong / Debts / Shotgun Wedding / Golden Fleece
SET 2: A Hard Rain / Lights On / There's a Reason / Cedar / On the Lam / I Come From the Water / Shine a Light

Hey, you know it's a good show when even Mike will admit he had a good time in Worcester.

Tonight, we play the Middle East Upstairs for our buddies The Vital Might's CD Release! It's going to be sweet.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Texas, beach, music

Nice and relaxing should make you come back feeling nice and relaxed. Alas, another painful back and concern that I may be having a second coming of shingles. But we'll wait and see, this is the EXACT same symptoms as the last time I had the worst thing I've ever had, but I'm going to wait it out. Nonetheless, the last two weeks have been so insanely fun, it's hard to describe. Let's start with recent history:

Last Thursday, we headed down to our now-all-too-familiar stomping grounds of Dewey Beach, Delaware, for the Dewey Beach Music Conference. Even though a hurricane hit the place we were playing, enough people were forced to be there because, hey, it was a music conference. And unlike past Dewey Beach shows, these were not locals (although it was open to locals). The crowd was almost all other musicians and, more importantly, some industry folks. Oddly enough, a few took a shine to use, specifically, two producers who have been hot on the trail. One I spoke to for a great length of time, the other has emailed Creamer. But we've already got a producer on the songwriting end (Todd) for the upcoming album, though we could be persuaded possibly into getting an engineering producer, too. Making a great record happens to be priority no. 1 for the band right now, so this was definitely a worthwhile endeavor. After staying up late drinking Shiner (yes, we found it in Delaware!), we rose to a sick Scott, a bunch of outlet stores, and a four-hour drive to Virginia. In Virginia, we didn't play music (in fact, Matt headed back) but we did play a lot of beach football, beach baseball, beach frisbee, beach bumming, beach wave-riding (which Tara thought, for some reason, would make for a good album cover), and just anything beach-related. It was an awesome adventure with good friends. No music, though. Not even karaoke.
SET LIST (Dewey Beach): Don't Get Me Wrong / Lights On / Madeline / Golden Fleece / On the Lam / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / I Come From the Water / Shine A Light

The previous week, the band played a going-away party for our friend Kevin, who has chosen to enter the military and will ship out to Texas, I believe, before being sent overseas. Either way, it was great to be a part of such a moving occasion, and get to play to some party animals.




Here's what I previously wrote about Kevin's party.
Anyhow, back to the band (and not politics and basketball), remind me later: I need to update you on our private show last week for our good friend Kevin shipping off to Iraq. It was a good time with a faux guitar solo by the big guy himself! But now I do not have the time. Either way, I just found the set list...
SET LIST: Lights On / Madeline / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / On the Lam / There's a Reason / Don't Get Me Wrong / LONG BREAK FOR PHOTO OPS, NOT OUR DECISION / Shotgun Wedding / I Come From the Water / Shine A Light (feat. KO)

The next day, TD and I flew to Texas for a little hang time in the Hill Country, which was quite beautiful and filled with wild life. For those keeping score at home, we've had two relaxing vacation and I'm STILL feeling sick-ish. Bummer.

Finally, we got LOL-ed on Boston Band Crush, a new blog written by Sophia and some of the guys from The Motion Sick. It appears in this segment, LOL Crush, they take a press photo of the band and interpret what the photo is saying. But they also added the nice, and quite distinct, statement: "The Cassavettes are the best Texas-bred americana rock you'll find in Boston." Check it out!

Next up, a private party at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute tomorrow and then a big show at the Middle East Upstairs in Cambridge on Saturday, supporting our friend's The Vital Might at their CD release party. Old 97s on Sunday. Good times keep rolling.

Labels: , , ,