I love the way Al Green refers to himself in 3rd person as a "Rock Star." Not a soul singer or an R&B star, but a "Rock Star." When I first started in this business as a performer, it was right before the internet took over: when artists still depended on CD sales, rock music was still played on the radio and, more importantly, on television. 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation were on life support, but still important platforms. Bands also still had decent budgets for making albums.
My first recording experience was different than most, which is the advantage of starting your singing career with an established act and not with up-and-comers. Hanging in New Orleans mansions converted into recording studios isn't a bad way to start your career path. I still have a soft spot for dimly lit rooms and the smell of cigarettes, stale beer, Maker's Mark and Nag Champa. While working with the Twilight Singers and later the Afghan Whigs -- yes, the first Twilight album was made before the last Whigs album -- I thought every band recorded with swimming pools adjacent to the mixing board and rooms and rooms of excess and debauchery. One of the reasons I think I clicked so well with the Whigs is because they were meat-eating rock & soul dudes from Ohio and not overly sensitive emo-rockers like we have now. It wasn't a big deal to have "buck-naked-stripper" pool parties during recording sessions -- we just called that "Tuesday."
Touring was cool, as well. There are notable advantages to touring the country in a pimped-out tour bus over, say, the standard-issue Nissan hatchback of most bands starting out. Needless to say, I was a little spoiled. Fast-forward five years: due to technology bands are making studio recording in bedrooms; also due to technology CD sells (especially rock record sells) started shirking and platforms for those records are starting to dry up. Was I proud that home town boys Cash Money were starting their reign on the music industry "hell yes" but if you weren't in Hip Hop or a blonde pop princes your future looked bleak.
Mighty Fine started in the bedroom of our ex-saxophone player's apartment. Was I hesitant at first to jump into a project of my own sans cool-ass mansion studios and tour buses? Hell yes again! I was too old to start from scratch, but there was something about locking ourselves away and coming up with the first few Mighty Fine songs -- it was exciting. Songs that later appeared on our debut EP The Dirty Sessions and songs that are live-show favorites like "Hello," "Ride" and "Find Me Another." Our creative energy back then was insane, with a least one new song coming out of every session, and we didn't even have a guitar player yet. Enter Mitro Valsamis -- or "Uncle Mitro" if you're nasty. Our drummer Richie would tell stories about some dude named "Mitro" and "if only if we could land him, we would have a kick-ass band"... and he was right.
We recorded our latest album Get Up To Get Down just like we recorded the first: in Mitro's basement studio. Gone are the days of buck-naked-stripper Tuesdays. Now it's just five guys in a basement recording to tape -- no Pro Tools, no whiskey bottles, no Nag Chumpa and no debauchery. Just a few shaggy dogs. Oh how the times have changed! But hey, man, that's all part of the cycle: playing to smaller crowds, recording on your own dime and having people rediscover why they dug you in the first place. I feel privileged that I get to sing in front any audience of any size. If you come out to a Mighty Fine show, you're going to get your money's worth - be it 100 people or 1,000 -- and that's not bragging, it's just a fact. I also dig the fact that we play to a slightly older crowd (mid-30s to mid-40s), because, let's be honest, if you're hiring a sitter to come see my ass, I better be prepared to shake it!
Mighty Fine plays Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ - Dec. 3rd
The new Mighty Fine single "Black Train" is available now via iTunes.
Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cSHHpuZDT0
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