We dug in hard, and everyone came together to put forth their best effort in order for us to rehearse as much as we could before this show. We didn’t play all of the new songs at Oktoberfest because we still needed to finish crafting a few of them.
One song in particular, “Cry For Me,” has a bit of a country feel to it, and there were some parts that simply weren’t working very well. The bass line that was being played had a little too much of a bouncing, bluegrass feel in my opinion, and the song was losing momentum heading into the chorus. When we discussed it, I told the band I believed it was the damn bluegrass bass line causing the problem, to which Rob replied, “Look, I know you’re trying to take the country out of this song, but the damn song is country.” I said, “Though it might be country, it’s damn sure not bluegrass.” Years ago, this sort of debate would’ve escalated into a major argument, but today we’re much older and more seasoned, and we made it a fun moment instead. The next morning, Chip and I got to work and I crafted a bass line for the chorus before everyone else got there for rehearsal. It worked great, and we incorporated it into the song.
We put together what we believed to be a damn good show and worked out all the originals so that we could be ready for the studio. I advertised the show as a bit of a prelude to the new album, promising to mention to the crowd which songs were going to be on the album. Pulling into the back of The Visulite and loading in felt like being back home again. I absolutely love that stage, and the venue altogether. We told Bernie that we appreciated him allowing a bunch of old dudes to play there, and he simply responded, “No problem; old people play good music too.” Ha ha.
The show was amazing. Both bands really played well, and we had almost 300 people there! Trey told me he wished he could once in his life be as happy as I looked on stage that night. The crowd was absolutely energized, and they were participating, singing along with us. There were some technical difficulties that made Chip decide to go out and purchase another amp, and Trey got so tired he ultimately ended the last song way too early, ha ha. He admitted he wasn’t in the shape he thought he was in at the time.
We had asked both of our producers, Mike Mitschele and Jason Scavone, to come out to the show so they could get some insight into what the band was about. They did, and both said they had the exact same thought: “How in the world are we going to get all these guitars under control?” It’s one thing to jam out and step on some toes live, but in the studio it’s a totally different atmosphere. If you want to make a good record, you have to sacrifice and realize that there is definitely a “less Is more” approach that needs to be considered. This was the first time that I’d be working with actual producers and I was excited—and also a bit intimidated—and you’d better be damn ready for some criticism when you’re recording. The majority of almost-wanna-be rock stars are not very good at being critiqued, but I was determined to go in there humbled, with a completely open mind and an eagerness to get to work.