01/11/2005 @ 02:08 AM: It is finally time for the belated special announcement(s)!
Special Announcement #1
Today I officially release five brand new songs--an EP--via my website.
All are available to download here:
School Rox - The Fall '04 EP
1. Gold (2872k)
2. League Of My Own (5834k)
3. Throw Away The Key (1507k)
4. Perspectives (6126k)
5. On The Rocks (2721k)
These five songs are indeed brand new in every sense; they were all written, recorded, mixed, and mastered between December 19 and January 8. I had specific motivation--each was respectively written for one of the four social science classes I took this fall at the University of Minnesota, and they were submitted to my instructors and the Political Science department as a mini "Fall '04 EP." (The first track, "Gold," was an improvised guitar piece I thought would make a nice intro.) Though quick in production, these songs were all still carefully constructed; I'm proud to release them today.
I recommend downloading all five songs and listening to them in the order I've listed above. Like any official album release, sequence is a consideration. Lyrics and credits are included with each MP3 download; you can access them by clicking on the 'Properties' section of each file.
Posted below is information on the creation of School Rox - The Fall '04 EP, stories behind each of the songs, and photos from the recording sessions (a few additional photos were posted previously--see the 'News Archives' section). Also, if you scroll W-A-Y down, you can read the second special announcement!
School Rox - The Fall '04 EP
Produced, Engineered, Mixed & Mastered by Andrew Thomas
Written, Recorded, Mixed & Mastered at Soliton - Bloomington, MN
December 19, 2004 - January 8, 2005 (between finals and holidays)
Andrew Thomas - Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Piano, Percussion
David Thomas - Drums
All Music and Lyrics Written by Andrew Thomas except "On The Rocks," Music by Andrew Thomas and David Thomas, Lyrics by Andrew Thomas
Thanks To: Jeremy Ylvisaker, DT, Devon Novy, Benjamin Jones
©2005 Andrew Thomas Music/Merlin Records [MR-20050105]
In a bazaar twist born out of creative drive along with desperation, in just a couple of weeks' time I wrote and recorded four new songs. Each was based on material for my classes at the University of Minnesota in the fall semester of 2004.
Fall semester was a particularly tumultuous time for me, and only near the end of it did I come to fully realize the mounting stresses in my personal life and the effects all were having. I've been writing songs for classes since high school (1993 graduate--starting to be a long time ago), and I can honestly say I didn't think I'd still be doing it all these years later. But I needed an outlet to motivate myself to think more about class topics; I also needed to afford some attention to my writing and recording career that has been--for all practical purposes--suspended since I returned to school a few years ago. What started as an idea for one song soon turned into four. (The first track, "Gold," was simply an improvised guitar piece I thought would serve as a nice opening.) It was my effort to energize myself and simultaneously demonstrate to my instructors that, yes, I did indeed give a damn about the courses and their content.
And so, equipped with a batch of ideas and my arsenal of Peavey Wolfgang guitars, I headed into the recording studio with my drummer and brother, Dave, and put down tracks for the new songs. They were done quickly, but all have their inspired "moments" nonetheless. My goal was variety, so each song should have something of its own flavor. Descriptions and explanations of each are below.
"League Of My Own"
Political Science 4767: Public Opinion and Voting Behavior (Dean Alger)
"League Of My Own" was the only song written and arranged in its entirety before recording began. It is pure, no-shame pop-rock. The song was intended to accompany my report on Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone, as is evident in the play-on-words I used for the title. Lyrically it is about Americans' disassociation with groups and organizations and the overall movement to individual accommodations.
Fun fact: The "shaker" during the verse and solo is actually the brush I use to clean my bathroom against a cinder block.
"Throw Away The Key"
Sociology 3101: Introduction to Crime and Justice (Joel Samaha)
One of the biggest topics that struck me from Professor Samaha's 3101 class was the influence politicians have had on judges via mandatory sentences. Tough-on-crime "lock 'em up" legislation may serve well for campaign claims, but the overall effects are especially complicated. "Throw Away The Key" is a fast and scrappy punk-rock song; I felt the topic warranted a musical style that was traditionally rebellious. (It was also the most fun to record.)
Fun fact: At around one minute long, this is the shortest song of the bunch, and yet it has the most lyrics!
Political Science 3835: International Relations (Raymond Duvall)
"Perspectives" was an improvised "jam" that took on its form as we played it in the studio. I knew I wanted three verses; each would have lyrics based loosely on the three perspectives of international relations we studied--realism, society of states, and liberalism. I wanted something of a "worldly" sound for this one. The drum track took several passes to finally capture the right building-type energy.
Fun fact: Each of the individual parts on this song, with the exception of the vocals, were recorded in one take; there were no punch-ins or fix-its of any kind.
"On The Rocks"
Political Science 4410: Comparative Constitutionalism (Elisabeth Hilbink)
Here's to hoping my instructors have a sense of humor! My final report for 4410 class was on Russia's struggles since the ratification of their new constitution in 1993. During my research for the paper, I would often shake my head and mumble: "If I were dealing with all this every day I'd be drinking a lot too." Russia's alcoholism rate is incredibly high. My absurd sense of humor decided on the ironic title "On The Rocks," and my collaborator suggested we turn it into an all-out drinking song. (It was the last song we worked on after a long evening of recording drums.) Several friends later helped with the "sing along" vocals.
Fun fact: The ridiculously out of tune old upright piano we keep in the lounge of the studio finally got to make an appearance on something!
Tracking "League Of My Own"
Group Vocals for "On The Rocks"
The Drum Room
Acoustic Guitar for "On The Rocks"
The Guitar Rig: 5150 & Marshall
The "League Of My Own" Mix
Special Announcement #2
Soon the wait will be over. I am in the process of booking a few live solo shows for spring. They will be my first live solo performances in more than five years!
For the shows I'll have a backup band that will consist of a drummer, bassist, and guitarist. The details have yet to be formally worked out, but the format will be simple and laid back; my only reason for playing is to play. There's nothing to sell and no image to push. I just want to pour tons of live energy into all these new songs I've written. We will, however, be drawing from material that is both new and old, and I’d bet on hearing a cover or two in there as well.
As dates and venues are confirmed, I’ll of course let you know!
Thanks for listening!