CURE FOR THE COMMON

Montana-Grown Electro Thunder Funk

The Squeeze: Overdubs with Jordan

This is a really exciting part of the process for us. We wrapped the principal recording of The Squeeze last Thursday before our trips to Idaho Falls and Park City, (which were killer!) and with barely a moment to rest, we're back at it working late into the night on the next phase of the project: Overdubs.

Jordan is up first, working to shore up just a few missed notes and occasionally putting a little extra spank on his moments in the spotlight.

Jesse Barney (left) and Jordan Rodenbiker (right) in the studio at RedBrain Media in Bozeman, Montana.

Jordan's job is not easy. He has the fewer musical years on his instrument than any of us in the band by quite a few, yet he is and has been tasked with holding down the low end of an ambitious and progressive funk rock band. As we have grown, so has he. By leaps and bounds. We're still hard on him to continue to embrace the necessity of his role as a bass player, to play fewer notes, and to be on time to the van, but he takes it all in stride as one of the kindest and most genuine humans you could ever meet. 

I met Jordan for the first time at our very first jam session, before CFTC was even CFTC. At the time, he had only been playing bass for four or five months altogether. After six years of practice, recording, and touring with this man at my side, I can safely say this album is collectively the nastiest bass performance I've ever heard him lay down. As we stepped into the studio setting night after night, sometimes with half-written songs, he consistently stepped up to the plate, took critique, and simplified his approach to get it done. As a result, he has come out with a fantastic performance that, I believe, will stand as one of his best for a long time to come.

I must say, it has really helped to have fellow bass player and producer/guidance counselor extraordinaire, Jesse Barney, at the helm of the recording and mixing process. Jesse is as close and familial to this band as anyone ever, yet he maintains that external observational perspective that allows him to push each of us in the right direction at the right time in a way that we can't possibly push each other. 

We will forever be in his debt for the role he has played in our growth. That, and he's put in a ridiculous amount of time on this record so far, with so much left to do in so little time. More on Jesse in a future post. For now, I better go fetch these guys water... or beer. It's gonna be a late one.

Thanks for reading,

Joe

"The Squeeze" Recording Update: Perfection

So the band is nearing the end of our full-band recording sessions as we prepare to push headlong into overdubs and mixing of our upcoming album, "The Squeeze." The album is due to be released April 11th, in time for us to take it with us on our epic journey across the country. That means that we were short on time before we even began, and are nearing that insane crunch time moment we all swore we would never subject ourselves to again. I can't explain how happy I am that the album is titled what it is, because this production has been ultimately one of the most challenging and demanding projects that any of us have had the pleasure to undertake.

So where are we now? We're basically 80% of the way done with full band takes, having recorded one song per night (give or take) for the last eight rehearsals. We had a three week break from gigging in January, during which time we turned our rehearsal space into a recording studio and got settled in to prepare the songs for recording. But February has had us back on the tour grind, which has made the recording process a bit more strenuous and time consuming.

Every week, we have painstakingly removed our gear from the studio on Thursday night in preparation for the weekends gigs. It was Whitefish to Billings two weeks ago, two nights in Jackson Hole this past weekend, and this coming Friday, a run through Idaho Falls on our way to Park City, Utah. Sunday we spend in the van, weaving our way home from wherever it is we went, and Monday (or Tuesday), we carefully return our instruments to their weekday homes, careful not to disturb the microphones that have been expertly positioned by our producer and amazingly generous friend and mentor, Jesse Barney.

Needless to say, time is limited. We all work day jobs, and when we arrive at the rehearsal space-turned recording studio at 5pm, it's safe to say that most of us are approaching the low battery warning light. But somehow, despite our limited energy and time, we've managed to deconstruct, fine tune, relearn, and perform a song in the course of 3 or 4 hours each night for the last four weeks. We've pretty consistently found a way to tap into that ethereal place where inspiration and energy are born, gritting our teeth and feeding off of the pressure of the squeeze to make each performance happen.

At the outset of this process, perfection was on all of our minds. We want this to be the best work any of us have put out. The best of all of our collective abilities applied simultaneously. By our best efforts, we've come to fully understand just how difficult it is for each of us to bring our A-game to the same take in the same room at the same time.

It's exhausting work, and everyday we go home mentally and physically drained, unsure of where the energy will come from the following night. We don't always get "the take," and it's safe to say that this record will bear its fair share of blemishes that we will have to embrace for the beauty of the bigger picture.

It's not the perfection we set out for in January, but this record is already the best thing we've collectively created, and if the pressure wasn't on as hard as it is, that wouldn't be the case.

Good Vibes & Valentines

We were settled in and ready to roll when showtime came around for night 2 at the Mangy Moose. Credit is due in large part to our very hospitable booking agent and Jackson resident, Matt Donovan and his lovely girlfriend, Liz, who let us ransack their house with the fury of seven dudes after night one.

Frank and Garrett cooked us a kick ass breakfast on Saturday morning as the sun shone brightly on a bluebird 40+ degree day. All this warm weather has made for a weird Rocky Mountain winter, but it was very conducive to a friendly game of 4-on-4 whiffle ball in the adjacent park. My team was winning 8-7 until Frank hit a 2 run walk-off home run and got the ball stuck in a tree. I contend that it was a ground rule double and the game ended in a tie, but he made breakfast so I'll let him have the W.

At show time, we put our most 'romantic' foot forward with a few strategically planned 'love' songs... Tunes like "Debra" by Beck, "Girlfriend Is Better," by the Talking Heads, and "Business TIme," by Flight of the Concords, featuring Frank "lady killer" Douglas on lead vocals. Bobby Griffith of Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons joined us to sing (and crush) "Slippery People" in the second set, then came back on to play some rockin' percussion during New Drug as well.

By the end of the night, we had sold a bunch of our brand new snowy owl pins (which are available in our online store), and even met a gentleman from Australia who is keen on helping us set up a tour in the Land Down Under! The Sneaky Pete boys were super generous and let us crowd into their basement jam space to crash after some short but spirited partying.

The weather for the drive home was beautiful, and Garrett and I had a chance to get some composition done in our new make-shift #curetour creation station. It may be a while before any of our work sees the light of day, but it's a step towards using our van time to write more tunes and make hours on the road a bit more entertaining.

Anyways, we hope your Valentines/Singles Awareness Day was as pleasant as ours. Look out for more #curetour antics next weekend as we head back to the SIckhouse in Idaho Falls (2/20) on our way to play Canyons Resort in Park City, UT (2/21)!

#TBT: A lot has changed in 3 years

Growing up is a mind trick. From one moment to the next, you can go from being a total noob, to feeling like the hottest shit on the block, back to wishing you knew what you were doing half the time. The major principles that have mattered to our career are staying true to who we are, working hard, and trying not to take ourselves too seriously... All that as we seriously try to "make it" in a highly competitive industry.

All that can present some serious challenges to a young band, but we just keep swimming. We know we're on the right track when folks come up to us after a show and earnestly say that it was better than the last one. It's one of the greatest gifts we could be given because it reaffirms our belief in what we're doing and simultaneously requires us to continue to push and improve our game for the next time. If we don't, we will get bored, plateau in our abilities, stagnate musically, and people will stop showing up.

I was thinking about this concept today on the heels several great shows, and having just seen Lettuce at the Top Hat with the band. It's refreshing yet terrifying to see such a tight, talented band with such a sick show. It keeps reminding us of how far we have to go to be the band we want to be... To play on the level where you sell out a 700 person venue without ever having played in that state before.

It reminds me of the time we opened for Big Gigantic at the Zebra Cocktail Lounge in 2012. Looking back on the photos of that show brings back some great memories.

We were a completely different band then. Neither Matt Rogers, nor Steve Brown had joined the band, and I don't believe we had traveled much past the borders of Montana to play music. 

 

Boy, a lot has changed in three years!