Det er alltid spennende når gamle helter går i studio med nytt materiale – blir det blåkopi av gamle bragder eller trår de til og går på stram line over nye farvann? Første alternativ kan fort bli en tam affære og det andre er risikosport som kan resultere i mageplask av dimensjoner. Så hvilken variant har våre venner fra Kansas City, Missouri gått for på comebackskive nr. to? Værvarslet fra Bob Walkenhorst var tunge, mørke skyer og ordentlig ruskevær med tordenskrall og stiv kuling. Tittelen “Monster Movie” gjorde også sitt til at jeg holdt litt ekstra hardt i paraplyen da jeg plasserte skiva i CD skuffen og trykket play.
Første låt ut er “Shithole Town” og Pat Tomek gjør sitt beste for å gi deg hørselskade med TUNG mishandling av trommene før en ringende gitar snor seg smidig mellom tordenskrallene og Bob Walkenhorsts distinkte stemme skjærer gjennom lydveggen med en livshistorie om å spille bluegrass, country og rock’n’roll – alltid i en shithole town. Trommene smeller heftig, gitarene røsker i ørene, og bassen gir rockefot av monsterdimensjoner, legg til en Walkenhorst som virkelig er på hugget vokalmessig og at vi for første gang på lenge får servert blåsere (riktignok på boks men pyttsann), da er det bare å skru opp volumet – dæsken døtte som dette svinger!
“Shithole town, shithole town, playing rock n’roll music in a shithole town”
Tittelsporet “Monster Movie” er neste og heisann – hva i alle paraplystativer har gutta funnet på her? Introen låter som en blanding av en orkan og støyen fra en folkemengde før demonvarianten av de syv dvergers arbeidstrall fades inn sammen med blytunge trommebeats og vrengte gitarer i en seig kakofoni før yppersteprest Walkenhorsts monotone dommedagsvokal forkynner at alt går til helvete for fulle seil. Og hva sier du til sirener og manisk fordreid vokal som kulminerer i “Mama, it’s alive!” – dette smaker metal, og fra å stå og klø meg litt i hodet over hva jeg hørte tok det ikke mange spillinger før det bare var å headbange med. Gutta kan iallefall ikke beskyldes for å safe så langt!
“Jesus ain’t a comin’, neither is your mama
Close-up for the kill, it’s all gonna be gone”
Tredje låt “Who’s at the Wheel” (en samkonspirasjon fra Walkenhorst/Tomek) kaster deg ut på dypt paranoid farvann hvor du umiddelbart vikles inn i et nett av konspirasjonsteorier og stiller det største spørsmålet av alle – hvem styrer samfunnet? Herlig tekst som leverer innertier etter innertier, og en melodi som snor seg rett inn i skolten og blir der – klassiker!
“Who’s at the wheel, who’s at the reins
Who’s that little voice inside of my brain”
Temposkifte og den vemodig vakre “Blue Museum” bringer salig balsam til ørehårene. Walkenhorst synger med livstrett nerve som går rett i sjelen og spiller munnspill så det rykker i tårekanalene. Strykere på boks og Jeff Porters pianospill hever låta ytterligere – nydelig!
“Rumbles of the long resistance
Revolution in the distance”
Med trommetorden og larmende gitarer sparker “Miserable” oss resolutt ut av komfortsonen. Walkenhorst drar en motsatt variant av det han gjorde på “25 ON” med “Missouri Girl” hvor Missouri ble uttalt misery – og uttaler her miserable som Missouri Bull. Jeg kan av erfaring love deg at du kommer til å gå rundt og synge Missouri bull for deg selv etter å ha hørt denne låta. En røff og skranglete låt som sitter som to tette og en badehette!
“I hate the sun, I dig the rain”
Det høres ut som om himmelen faller ned når Pat trommer opp introen på “Your Time Has Come”. Energisk munnspill pisker opp stemningen ytterligere før Bob insisterer på at det er på tide å strekke seg etter noe mer her i livet. Inspirert vokal, trommer, gitarer og munnspill bidrar til å gjøre dette til en låt som får deg til å hoppe opp og ned og slå knyttneven i været, og du føler du lever når herr Tomek smeller i gang en episk trommesolo!!!
“Standing on a mountain underneath a clear starry sky
Digging for an old gold record in the cold hillside”
“Save Some For Me” (Walkenhorst/Porter) Lett kyniske betraktninger om et USA som ikke lenger er mulighetenes land, tøff halvtempo låt med røffe riff.
“There was a time that I believed This was a good country
For takin’ a risk, makin’ a mark Takin’ a shot at a dream”
Som Bob synger i “Miserable” – “I hate the sun, I dig the rain”, men vi trenger alle litt solskinn innimellom og når Jeff Porter slipper til som fullblods regnmaker med sin egen låt “Believe in Now” er det som en solstråle som lyser opp i mørket, en blomst som spirer etter regnskyllet.
“You fit me like a skeleton key in a lock I thought didn’t open
Now I believe in you , I had to remember how
I wanna know do you believe in now”
“13th Spirit” har en fantastisk groove, tunge gitarriff og en mytisk illevarslende tekst sunget med suggerende patos. Højdare! (Det ryktes at det kommer musikkvideo, vi gleder oss).
“This is the tale of the boy with the bucket
Bringin’ fuel to the fire
I hear the fox preachin’ to the chickens
A lion lyin’ to the choir”
At dette er en skive laget i fellesskap sementeres ytterligere når bassist Rich Ruth tar vokalen på “Dogleg” (Walkenhorst/Ruth co-write). Steintøff låt med selvbiografiske elementer fra herr Ruth. Spilles høyt!
“Taking turn after turn on this mobius trip – singing
DOGLEG – to the left, DOGLEG – to the right
DOGLEG – life do not go in any one direction – singing
DOGLEG – when I’m lost, DOGLEG – where can I be
DOGLEG – it just might pay to wander with me”
Bob er tilbake på vokal for “Signs of a Struggle”, en liten pust i bakken etter angrepet på sansene i forrige låt. Jeg var i utgangspunktet litt skeptisk til om dette var en passende låt for skiva, men denne låta vokser for hver spilling. Introen skaper en elektrisk atmosfære av dissonans som får nakkehåret til å stritte, refrenget synges med en intens edge som borrer seg inn i bevisstheten, versene låter kanskje litt for snille i forhold men det er eneste innvending fra min kant.
“Sometimes that cosmic radio it comes in clear as day
Sometimes it’s only static but I listen anyway”
“Swinging Shed” er siste låt ut, skrevet på siste dag i studioet. En rockabilly standard som godt kunne vært enda litt røffere i kantene, det låter hakket for pent i mine ører, men bevares – skuret svinger det! Kan tenke meg denne tar et solid steg opp i live setting – gutta kommer til Norge i starten av juni så det er bare å møte opp og se om jeg har rett!
“I’m off to Colorado, there’s romance in the ore
Gonna mine me a diamond at a second-hand store”
Vokalist og låtskriver Bob Walkenhorst varslet på forhånd en stor, stygg og bråkete skive – etter å ha lyttet til skiva blir oppsummeringen at det er en sannhet med modifikasjoner. Men selv om det ikke er en 100% balls to the walls rockeskive er dette en solid regnbyge i Rainmakers katalogen med alle kvalitetene vi er vant med – et sylskarpt blikk på religion og politikk, humor, følelser og ikke minst dyptgående tanker om selve livet.
Lillebjørn Nilsen skrev en gang følgende:
“Regn, regn, gå din vei.
Sol, sol, kom til meg.
Se her sitter jeg,
og synger mens det regner”
Jeg velger å sette et stort kryss over de første to linjene og skrur volumet opp enda et par hakk mens den splitter nye skiva til
The Rainmakers herjer i høyttalerne.
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Monster Movie kjøper du digitalt på iTunes
Fysisk CD bestiller du hos Village Records
Vi runder av med noen ekslusive tanker om innspillingen fra Bob, Jeff, Pat og Rich:
After our reunion 3 years ago, we have finally gotten used to the idea that we are a working band again.
The 2011 reunion and the album “25 On” that went with it, could have been a one-time last hurrah for the band.
But it was fun, rewarding, creative, and invigorating to play together again, to connect with fans again, and to feel like we are part of that ongoing energy that is MUSIC. So why quit now.
I had to write all the songs for 25 On BEFORE the band really reunited. So they were kind of written in a vacuum – a vacuum of memory and nostalgia. So when it came time for NEW songs for a new album, my head was in an entirely different place than it was 3 years ago. We had all learned a lot as musicians over the years, and the reunion tours made us sharp and strong again as a musical unit. So these new songs were written for an ongoing experienced band – one that had resumed a conversation with our audience, after a brief 13 year interruption.
These new songs don’t really work on an acoustic guitar – they are not folk songs. They are based around riffs and drum patterns and the type of grooves that this band is good at. We know our strengths, we know our limitations. The subject matter of the songs is all over the place, but there is certainly a darker edge to this album than the one before. I think that is what the band has always done best, mix darker subjects with humor, painful subjects with energy. That’s the way you work things out in life.
One of the things I like best about this album is that we have co-written some songs. I co-wrote a song each with Rich, Jeff, and Pat. And Jeff sings one of his own originals. I can be a bit of a control freak, so it was a healthy step for me to write with the other guys, and let their vocals and guitar parts take shape when we started to record.
“25 On” took 5 days to record. “Monster Movie” took 8 days. We really slowed down and took our time. (joke)
We like to work fast, to not overthink or overwork an idea. No, no one will ever accuse us of doing that.
But that keeps things fresh and immediate and a bit unpredictable when it comes to playing the songs live. We are really looking forward to playing these songs live.
Firstly, It was a good feeling to know that we were going back in the studio. I knew we wouldn’t be able to rest on past accomplishments for the rest of time. Something new keeps the band fresh and fans interested. As far as the songs wereconcerned, I have enough faith in Bob as a songwriter to not really worry too much.
Except for “Believe in Now” and “Save Some For Me”, I approached the songs the same as “25 On”. I learned them on the spot in the studio. Let me say here that I don’t particularly care for the recording process. I enjoy hanging with Pat and Bob and Rich, the conversation,the jokes. I am very proud to be a part of the band and the recording, but the actual process is extremely tedious. We’ll work on the same song for hours, playing it 30-50 times. I’d much rather play live, but that’s just me. I’m super lucky to be in a band with guys that will hold my feet to the fire, cause I’d probably be outta there after a few takes!
As far as “Believe In Now”, Bob had asked me to contribute a song. I had several compositions for a new solo CD, but lack of financing was keeping that on hold. Bob and I got together one afternoon and I played him two songs that I thought might work. He liked them, but didn’t think they would “fit” on a Rainmakers record. I wasn’t surprised, I didn’t think they fit either, but they rocked a little more than a lot of my stuff. I played one more. He said “that’ll work!” We tweaked it a little and it became “Believe In Now”. As for “Save Some For Me”, that was a couple of riffs I wrote after returning from a New Years party. I had a pretty good buzz going and sent them to Bob at about 2:00 in the morning.
Comparing “Monster Movie” to “25 ON”…I don’t know…I think “Monster Movie” has more of an edge. I think guitars sound bigger on “Monster Movie”. Other than that, I’m really proud of them both.
Oh, and “Monster Movie” makes it feel like I’m no longer the new guy!
The album was recorded in my home studio, Largely Studios, in two groups of sessions. From January 25–30, we recorded the basic tracks, usually getting two songs a day. Saturday, the first day, we only got Miserable, since we were tweaking input settings and headphone mixes, but Thursday we got three songs: “Monster Movie”, “Who’s At the Wheel”, and “Save Some For Me”.
Tuesday (and really, the days before that) were the most intense for me because I was completing negotiations to buy a used car from a private party. We stopped for half an hour in the middle of recording “Your Time Has Come” so I could run upstairs to sign papers and write a check to buy the car, since the people selling were nice enough to drive it to us. The band also did a photo shoot downtown earlier that afternoon! It was a very productive week.
As with “25 On”, Bob had made some rough demos for everyone to listen to, though I don’t think anyone had enough time to be terribly prepared. The real arrangements were worked out on the spot, sometimes making the song very different from the original demo. In addition, Bob wrote the lyrics to “Swingin’ Shed” the last day we recorded, right before we laid down the tracks. I’m pretty sure Rich finished the lyrics to “Dogleg” Sunday night, right before we recorded it Monday.
As for the other collaborations, I think Jeff came up with the basic guitar riff to “Save Some For Me”, which Bob then completed. In the case of “Who’s At the Wheel”, I had sent Bob some lyrics a month or so ahead of time. He rewrote (and improved) them heavily. There are phrases and images I used (like “Kenyan Muslim” and “tinfoil beanie”–which Bob hadn’t heard before), but it’s very much a Bob song. And one of my favorites, even though I rarely remember that I had anything to do with its creation.
We would usually start about 10 am and go until we had finished the second (or third) song. As with “25 On”, when an arrangement seemed to be coming together we would hit Record and listen back to see if it was working. If so, we’d record the song two or three times in a row, then listen for a keeper, repeating until there was an acceptable track.
We were never drunk or anything, but after the sessions I took several bushel baskets of beer bottles to recycling! We ate a lot of frozen pizza on breaks, and fortunately Whitney cooked delicious tom ka gai (Thai soup) for us. The process was exhausting but fun.
We exported the keeper takes to a portable hard drive for Bob to take home for mixing and review. We decided that “Who’s At the Wheel” was just too different from everything else (it sounded almost like reggae in some ways), so we would re-record it at the overdub sessions.
The overdubs, including the new “Who’s At the Wheel”, were all done in three days, February 13–15. It’s basically a live album–there wasn’t time for anything else. I didn’t use a click track when recording, though on a couple songs I would listen to a metronome for a few beats before counting off. That way we would start at the same speed every time. The drum tracks are definitely “warts and all”, no edits that I know of. I don’t think Bob did much to his guitar tracks either. He sang scratch vocals as we recorded, but did the finals at home, as well as adding extra parts like keyboard strings and horns, and percussion. Jeff played piano on “Blue Museum” and organ on “Believe In Now”. He has the same Roland keyboard as I do, so that was one piece of equipment that didn’t have to get hauled to my house.
Some of the bass tracks were re-cut, and maybe one or two guitar tracks. We added handclaps to some of the songs, harmony vocals as well as Rich and Jeff’s lead vocals. Rich really stepped forward on the guitar solos, coaching Jeff through the takes (more of this, less of that), since he’s way into electric guitar. I think that was a welcome break for Bob, since in general he guided us toward his vision of the songs. Still, I’d say it’s probably more of a group record than we’ve ever done before. The others were not like a Bob solo project or anything, but this seems more collaborative than usual.
Once again, a fun recording process. A few songs were changed very little from the first run through, but some changed quite drastically. We would usually get 2 rhythm tracks done in a day, from first run through to arrangement with changes added by anyone or everyone to final basic track. Kind of a cool way to do it, you don’t have time to overthink them. Pizza/beer/good food made by Whitney and jamming with friends. What’s not to like?
Sometimes I would be concerned that a song/arrangement might not be quite right, but we would just continue to work and arrange and suddenly the song would seem to just “appear”.It’s kind of miraculous and very rewarding from my point of view as one of the conspirators. Whether the songs are good or not is obviously up to the listener, and EVERYONE is right, because it is opinion about art. But from a performer’s perspective it is a really remarkable process.
As far a “Dogleg” goes, Bob had written a couple of verses/chorus’ and had a riff for a song he called “Dogleg” he graciously offered to give me a shot at contributing to the writing and singing it. I thought about the words a lot over the next few weeks but didn’t write them down. I came up with some changes for a guitar solo right away though. While I was on my 9 hour drive to KC from Nashville for the recording sessions, I was writing down verses and chorus’ in a nearly completed form. Kind of hard to drive and write at the same time, but I remarkably managed not crash into anyone.
When it came time to work on “Dogleg”, I showed Bob my lyrics and asked him to help me put some of them into a better cadence for the song form. We discussed some ideas, & he just altered some on his own, until it had a better rhythm. The next day, the band ran through it, and in rehearsal Bob suggested that we might try the solo changes in minor form rather than major. It worked well with the song, and in a relatively short time the basic track was done. On one of the last session days, I warbled my ass off (for SEVERAL takes) and left it all on disc for Bob to sort out later. Quick backup vocals. On the last day (I think) Jeff seriously altered his amp settings for the killer nasty tone appropriate for this tune, and it was “in the can”. Bob later picked the best vocal takes and edited the lead vocals. It was a lot of fun to sing lead on a Rainmakers album, and it was kind of the GOOD singers in the band to let me have a shot at it. Thanks Bros.
It was another great record session at Pat’s. He is a great engineer and knows his studio in and out, so I basically just show up, plug in, and start playing.
Thanks for all of the support through the years everyone, and I hope y’all dig it.