Basements, Cobwebs, and Demos: It’s Good To Be Home

It’s been nice to be home for a while. Friends, family, your own bed, healthier food, and of course more time to practice are all things to enjoy once your back home. You’d think that while touring you get to practice all the time, but it’s actually very hard to find time to practice on your own, and to work together as a group on new ideas. When you’re constantly being scooped up and dropped in a new location, it’s hard to find the time. A 45 minute sound check doesn’t really give you much time to rehearse, especially if the sound guy is having any issues with the system (which is very common).

Practice makes perfect
Practice makes perfect

After returning from tour the first week of October, we took a short break. Then we got right back into finishing some new songs. Last week we played at a basement party in The North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis as way to take the new songs for a little test drive. It was not advertised save for a couple social media mentions. The party was at Wilson & Willy’s, a store that sells hand made clothes and lifestyle accessories. They’re launching a new series of basement parties called The Cellar Sessions and this was the inaugural edition.

Also involved in the party was our label, Secret Stash Records, and Aesthetic Apparatus, an incredible screen print and design studio here in town. They designed and printed the poster for the event and gave a hand numbered screen printed poster to everyone who came.

Print

All told, I’d guess there were about 50 people who came out to drink Surly and enjoy some tunes. The night kicked off with our good friend, Danny Sigelman, spinning some records. I also threw a few 45s on as well. Then we played a very casual set of 9 new tunes. We didn’t wear our suits, and none of the songs were stitched together in our usual way. We took time to talk to each other and our friends between the tunes. When it was over, I think we were all taken back by how much fun it was to play in such a loose environment. We’re used to being rushed in, sound checking, eating, changing into suits, being rushed on stage, and then performing a meticulously arranged show. This was the complete opposite of that. I’d hate to give the impression that we’re unhappy doing what we normally do. We are blessed to be able to do it. But this was very cool in a totally different way. We only used one mic… just for Sonny. He had a monitor and there were two mains, that was it. It couldn’t have been much more simple than that. It felt great to break in those new tunes like that.

basement people
basement people

On Saturday we played a Halloween party at Carelton College in Northfield, MN. It was actually our second time playing at that school. They’ve been great both times. Everyone is very kind and easy to work with. The crowds have been incredible both times. The crowd on Saturday may very well have been the hardest dancing crowd we’ve ever played for. We played a Halloween show last year in Milwaukee, too. So far they’re 2 for 2 in awesomeness.

Scary man sound checks the organ
Scary man sound checks the organ

Last night we recorded demos of all our new material at the new Secret Stash Records studio in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. I’m listening back to them right now. This new album is going to be a lot different from the first one, but I’m confident that it’s BETTER. Except for a couple tunes, the parts aren’t as funky, but the songs are much better written. We’ve all been listening to a lot of country and gospel music. I think it shows in the new music. Sonny is really getting into some exciting new territory. He’s exploring moods and textures I’ve never really heard from him before. The new material really highlights his abilities as a vocalist. We’ll go in to cut the album this winter. Can’t wait!

Recording demos at Secret Stash
Recording demos at Secret Stash

 

Next up, we play Carnigee Hall in Lewisburg, WV on 11/13 and the Tryon Fine Arts Center in Tryon, NC on 11/14. Excited to get out there and keep playing these new tunes.

Oh yeah… last week the limited edition orange vinyl pressings of Do It Live finally showed up! All the preorders have been shipped. We’ll have some of these at the merch booth at future shows as well. Sorry it took so long. After months of delays, the plant ran disc two in the wrong color!

Get one at the merch booth while supplies last. You can also get them at the Secret Stash website.
Get one at the merch booth while supplies last. You can also get them at the Secret Stash website.

 

Here are the mismatched LPs the plant originally pressed up
Here are the mismatched LPs the plant originally pressed up

-Eric (drums)

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