Today at Aloud HQ, we held our collective breath and clicked the “launch” button. After a year of tinkering away in our home, in the rehearsal space, and out on the road, we’re setting one foot forward (the first of a thousand more foots) into a certain kind of insanity where the mad fear to tread and the damned dare not look.
Of course, I refer to our fourth album, the elusive follow-up to Exile.
Much as Exile was a wonderful departure from Fan The Fury, this is a wonderful departure from its own predecessor.
Since I’ve only enough brain cells to put thought into one coherently written piece beyond this tl;dr foreward, I’ve pasted below what I’ve written for said Kickstarter funding page.
If you find it in your hearts to pledge to our campaign, please forward the URL album.aloud.tv to your friends (once the warm feeling in your heart has sufficiently subsided) and encourage them to pledge toward the album.
Life doesn’t transpire in a vacuum, so in order to properly chew on this, we’re going to have to pull up a chair and talk about our last album for a sec.
Jen and I were in something of a bind a few years ago. For the first time in six years—since the start of the band, actually—we found ourselves short two band members. There’s never a good time for that sort of thing to happen, but in this instance the timing was abysmal. There was an east coast tour coming up and a rhythm section was crucial to our ramshackle enterprise. As a result, the following weeks and months were quite stressful, and perhaps out of a need to cope, Jen and I quietly recorded a few songs we had kicking around with producer Daniel Nicholas Daskivich.
The session turned out to be an incredibly liberating and important experience for us, to be so completely untethered to other bandmates. It allowed Jen and I to explore a lot of crazy textures with Dan we mightn’t have otherwise touched. We continued working with Dan, writing songs as we went along, until our creative therapy metastasized into a full length record. Despite the forlorn color of that album, it’s by far some of most fun I’ve ever had working on music.
In hindsight, it’s also easy to see it was a lonely way to work (a seemingly obvious assessment to make on a record titled Exile). Friends would pop in and guest on tracks, sure, but for the most part, we sequestered ourselves in a Somerville studio for no less than a year. Even Charles, by then already firmly established as our bassist, is only featured on one track.
Once the record was complete, Jen, Charles, myself, and our then-drummer James were left with the task of translating its bare-bones aesthetic to a live setting.
It was during that period this thing called Aloud began to feel truly whole again. We re-discovered that we were pretty good at being a rock n’ roll band.
The irony of this realization coming to us while knee deep in our folk adventure is not lost on me.
Due in no small part to a successful Kickstarter campaign (thank you, by the way) and supplemented by impeccably timed nuptials, we were able to release Exile and hit the road in the fall of 2010. What followed was three months of seeing the country coast to coast, meeting wonderful strangers who let us into their homes, getting in and out of bizarre situations, and playing music nearly every single night. Things back in Boston were no less inspiring: the sincere warmth of our community, of our family, our friends buoyantly rooting for us as we did our level best to make the city we love proud on this crazy adventure… it was overwhelming, to say the least.
(The fact that Frank has neither exploded nor choked on vomit after a year as our drummer… that’s neat, too.)
This burgeoning magic hit critical mass with our participation in Berklee’s BANDED project to record “You Will Know” (which you can read about here). It was our first time working both at Mad Oak Studios in Allston and with Benny Grotto, who proposed we play the song live. It seemed like an ideal way to work, so we went with it. The two day session was so much fun, we booked another session at Mad Oak toward the end of the year for the hell of it and ended up recording “Such A Long Time”. At this second session, Benny suggested we take it a step further: forget the headphones, forget the click track, forget separating the amps, and just play the damn thing till it sounds good. That, too, was incredibly fun.
Point is: after all that, the writing was on the wall. What our next album needed to be was as unavoidable as the block-text in the video above.
This is what we’ve set out to make here: an album that sounds like a band playing music in a room together.
For our fourth record, we have assembled a crack team of ex–United States Army Special Forces personnel who work as soldiers of fortune while on the run from the Army after being branded as war criminals for a “crime they didn’t commit”:
Producing and mixing the record is Charles Newman. With admirable deftness, Charles has walked the line of knowing when to let us run wild and when to politely tell us we’re out of our minds. Charles has been instrumental in guiding us toward an overall, coherent vision for the record (which is Music Biz lingo for “it sound pretty”). Charles has previously recorded with The Magnetic Fields, Future Bible Heroes, Cold Blood Club, and Kris Gruen.
Once again wearing the recording engineer slippers is Benny Grotto, head engineer at Mad Oak Studios. His willingness to experiment with recording techniques has been an amazing asset for us in the studio. Apart from Aloud, Benny has also worked with Aerosmith, The Ducky Boys, OldJack, Ben Folds, Viva Viva, GangGreen, and—my personal hero—“Weird Al” Yankovic.
For the last three years, being in Aloud is more or less what we do full time. There are some truly remarkable riches to be made in this line of work. Unfortunately, said riches tend to exist in the realm of “occasional spiritual fulfillment” as opposed to “legal tender”.
Much as we’d love brilliant flashes of personal happiness to become an accepted form of currency, the fact is a good sounding record costs money to make. We have already invested as much of our own money into this project as we could muster. So here we are again, convoking the goodwill and support of our friends and family to get us across the finish line.
Why $9,000? After some frugal number crunching, this amount is the minimum we need to defray our recording costs, having the album mastered, getting vinyl LPs and CDs manufactured, and some promo for the album.
All pledges of $15 or more come with a digital download of the album before the general public gets to wrap their pretty little ears around it. (That’s totally a thing that ears do, by the way. I’m a doctor.)
Above the base $15 pledge are some other neat things.
A few rewards peel back the irreproachable veneer of professional musicianship: get demos of the songs in progress and an album scrapbook containing copies of lyrics in medias res, behind the scenes photos, and more. For a hundred bucks, five lucky backers will receive text messages from the one and only Charles Murphy for an entire year. Alternatively, if Charles already has your number, one of you can kick an extra five bucks to make him stop.
On top of that, we’ll be sending some exclusive backers-only updates throughout the 30 days of this campaign and beyond, including videos of us performing a few tracks at a secret basement show in Boston earlier this summer.
I should probably wrap this thing up, so on behalf of myself, Jen, Charles, and Frank, I want to thank you for taking the time to read this.
Your continued support of our little band means the world to us.
See y’all at the end of August.
For the uninitiated, the first rule of Kickstarter Fight Club is: if we don’t hit our $9,000 goal by August 29th at 11:59pm EDT, we’re toast.
If such an unfortunate occurrence were to take place, it’ll be exactly like that scene in Red Dawn when Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to the future (2004) after Ron Silver fudged with the timeline:
• You won’t be charged any money
• The album will be shelved indefinitely
• Senator Aaron McComb will ascend to the presidency and, as a master of time, will be unstoppable
Luckily, that’s the hardest part. In the eleven years of Aloud’s existence, we’ve got a pretty good handle on the mechanics and logistics of putting together an album, releasing it, promoting it, and stretching every dollar as much as we possibly can. (Fun fact: while on tour for close to four months, we only ever paid for three hotels.)
Rest assured that every penny thrown into the kitty will be well spent, every order will be fulfilled, and every dollar is necessary to finish this project.