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The Sampler comprises an eclectic mix of songs recorded at various places in and around Canton, Ohio. I recorded Only Begun at RealGrey records, the home studio of great friend Ron Flack. RealGrey is a staple in Canton's music scene where Flack hosts open events like, "Bring Your Song", a monthly gathering where songwriters and producers show each other what they've been working on. My long-time friend, David Seymour mastered the song at his home project studio, called The Ranch, shortly before the November 1 release in 2013. A new version of Only Begun will appear on Embleton's upcoming full-length, "It Did Me Well." (Release date TBD)
Mr. Williams features Canton's own Anya Rose, a wonderfully talented singer/songwriter and friend of mine. The rawest sounding track on the EP, Mr. Williams was recorded live into a vintage cassette tape recorder the summer of 2013. Our drummer, Matt Kurtz picked up the little tape machine at a flea market for just a dollar--a worthwhile investment he surmised. When I heard the sounds he was getting from that old Panasonic,I sent out a demo and chart to the crew, and we set a date to record. After a few run-throughs and four takes Mr. Williams was born.
Truthfully, I wrote Mr. Williams in college circa 2009. A good friend of mine wanted me to write a song about the depressing spirit of the news. So I came up with Mr. Williams. The jazzy, rootsy style didn't fit the band I was playing with at the time, so it had to wait a few years to see the light of day. I'm proud of how it turned out, and I couldn't be more thankful for the group of people who helped make it a reality.
Inspired by Iron and Wine's beautiful finger-picking style and yearning to see a far-away friend, I wrote Mr. Tornado during a short afternoon in 2010. Jon Foreman once said, "Some songs are like ancient, buried cities. They're already built; you just have to uncover them." I may have paraphrased that a little, but this song felt like it already existed. I just had to strum and write for a few hours until it clicked. My previous band, A Minor Bird played Mr. Tornado a few times but we never got around to recording it. Finally, after about four years, I stopped procrastinating and tracked the song myself at home. I had the Frontier Ruccus on my mind the day I did the vocals. Our guitarist/engineer/producer John Finley added some trumpet and mixed it.
Mr. Tornado and Williams were mastered by J.J. Golden at Golden Mastering in Ventura. California. J.J mastered one of my favorite albums, "Nothing Is Wrong" by Dawes, and his father, John W. Golden, mixed another one of my other favorites: "Ghosts of The Great Highway" by Sun Kil Moon. Golden mastering was a pleasure to work with. J.J. tied together the roughness of Mr. Williams and the home recording quality of Mr. Tornado seemlessly.
Stack was a crowd favorite when I played with A Minor Bird. I wrote it after our record came out, so it never got tracked. When AMB broke up, my friend Kyler Morrison approached me about recording it. After a little convincing, we blocked out a weekend to track it in Massillon at Kyler's house. The weekend was lined with technical difficulties and a freak moment in the middle of the night where I passed out on my way to the loo for no reason whatsoever. I bit a small piece of my toungue off when I hit the floor, and I'm fairly certain I got a concussion. We still ended up tracking vocals the next day. If I sound a little weird, I guess it's because I was missing part of my toungue. Stack was engineered and mixed by my friend Joel Maze and also mastered by Dave Seymour.
I often find it difficult to listen to my music after it's released. The arduous recording process requires hundreds of listens and tweaks. When it comes out I usually take some time to "detox" from the songs so I can come back to them at some point and listen with a fresh perspective. It's also easy for me to just move on and begin writing new material, ultimately getting swept up in the next project. I finally listened to the tunes after a long time away last week. I listened with headphones so I could hear everything. The songs still take me to places that bring good memories, encouragement, and challenge. I hope they do the same for you.