Most of the time, when a band or artist embarks on the journey to remaster old material, they choose to do so in order to polish up stale mixes, and add a fresh flavour to the product. The Truth About Life was in desperate need of a remaster because of the poor quality of production equipment I had available at the time. Equally speaking, Begin to Live needed a remaster, but not because of poor equipment, more to just correct technical issues I wasn't sure how to fix at the time.
With No Rest for Heroes, however, this was the big-budget, professional studio experience for the project. I came out of Tolono, IL, with a product that was about as close to perfect as I could get. After spending 8 days working alongside Matt Talbott (former RCA recording artist and frontman from the 90s alternative rock band HUM,) we had 14 tracks that were my true labour of love. I had always wanted to make a rock record with the Dementia Cookie Box, but up until around the millennium, I didn't really know how to write enough heavy rock music to make a full album.
I spent alot of time with my Helmet, Chevelle and Hum records, and I was living in my own place for the first time. I had a basement studio set up and plenty of time to write. The Sorrow Stomp, Ginger Tree and You Alive were the first tracks to come out of that basement. Soon to follow was Planting the Seed - inspired not so lightly by the opening track to the debut Chevelle album. I loved how it opened with a thick instrumental to set the tone, then slid right into the first vocal track of the album. Sooo, it seemed only logical for my instrumental intro to be titled "Planting the Seed," since the Ginger Tree was going to grow directly from it. Ginger Tree was inspired (believe it or not) by Belly. No, not the rapper, but rather the fantastic female-fronted alternative rock band from the 90s. I was listening to them alot during this transition time as well, and their song about "feeding the tree" stuck with me. It was a story about an old man who sabotaged himself, and the resulting "tree." She sings that she knows all of this and more. I dunno, I was just in love with that song, and that's how Ginger Tree was born.
So, back to this remaster. When I left the studio in 2006, there wasn't much more to do with these recordings. I remember having a discussion with Matt about mastering, and he was saying that if you have good mixes you really shouldn't need to master the songs. He said the first HUM records weren't mastered, and we all know they have withstood the test of time. So, I didn't get the tracks mastered. I was already 5k in with the project, and still needed replication. It would be four years later before Dozing Lady could afford to release the Ginger Tree single on vinyl. (This was before the crowdfunding craze took off.) I used the SoundForge software I had available at home to bump the levels and add some EQs to open up the mixes, then added some interludes and trimmed the beginnings and ends of the tracks. I think all of the "polishing" took me about a day, then it was ready to put on disc.
It has been 10 years since these tracks were recorded, and I thought since we began with a pretty good collection of songs, it would be fun to approach this Deluxe Collector's Edition a little differently. Instead of polishing to tighten things up more, or fighting for that perfect, creamy EQ punch, I have decided to present these tracks to you pretty much how I heard them when I brought them home from the studio. That means all of the awkward silences, guitar buzzes, stick clicks and "zips" from starting and stopping the tape are all there. This version of the album is presented to you with minimal processing, in order to give you a fresh take on the songs. I want you to kind of hear where I was back then, deciding what needed to be done before I presented my baby to the world.
So, here they are, all 14 tracks, 90% virgin versions for your listening pleasure. I have added the entire White Debbie and the Halo Earth demo EP as bonus tracks so you can see what I was pulling from when Landon and I went into the studio. Also included is the original basement demo for the Sorrow Stomp - one of the first tracks written for this album - and the original acoustic demo version of Flaw. Funny story: Flaw wasn't supposed to be on this album. :o
Since the studio was unnervingly haunted, and we had trouble sleeping at night because of something playing the instruments downstairs, waking us up, oh... and the weird-ass dreams, we stayed up most of the night writing new parts and combing through 50-75 demo tracks I had brought with me to see what we could add to this experience. We would record when Matt came in the following day, and then slept while he worked on the mixes. One night I was playing Flaw for Landon, and he started plucking out the riff on the bass. I was blown away as to how that simple instrument change brought such a new feeling to the song. We went downstairs, gave the ghosties the boot and I started working on some drums to go along with the bassline. We stayed up most of the night, maybe 5 or 6 hours getting that song ready and laid it down the next day. Late addition, that would ultimately become one of the most popular tracks on the album, one of the most requested at shows, and the second music video off the album! I am SO glad I played that track for Landon that night. RIP old friend.
There is a live version of Flaw also in here to show everyone how Becca and I used to perform it live before we had the full band assembled in Bowling Green. And then there is "Just Like Me." Funny story behind this song, it is included because it was the b-side to the Flaw single, but for years I swore that Barry wrote the lyrics and I wrote the music. He swears he did not write the song. So, here I am typing this... still not 100% sure how the song came about. But regardless, it's here. It's a sad song, but also speaks to the masses of awkward adolescents.
Straight outta' Tolono, enjoy them as I have, mastered from the 24 bit / 96 kHz studio discs, digitally cut straight from the 2" tape for your listening pleasure.
Peace, and God bless.