The 2019 Sessions, Volume 1: the back story:
Our last LP ‘Ten & 2’ was released on June 22, 2018, nearly a year ago at this writing. BUT, we’ve also just crossed over into our tenth year as The Great Affairs, making the more important milestone to celebrate our decade of operation under that moniker, and thus the urge to spring this trio of songs to commemorate our “Tin” anniversary.
Truthfully speaking; for myself at least, very little is required to get my “studio boots” on, as it’s the part of being in a band that I’m most comfortable with. As much as I love playing shows, the older I (and my ears) get, the more content I am hunkered down somewhere trying to “find the sound” that kept poor Pete from making his way home to Beth.
I spend a lot of time by myself, building these tunes on a computer that we’ll hopefully get to recreate as a band, knowing full well that most of them will never see the light of day beyond their initial demo form. It can be pretty tedious, but emerging from the cocoon of the Pastry Park Audio Confectionery with something new on my hard drive always puts a little fresh gas in the tank, even if maybe only one out of every ten of these compositions makes the grade with the band.
I’m not the only writer in The Great Affairs either, so there’s legit competition for turf on every release. I mean, you’re only gonna squeeze so may tunes onto a long-player as it is, and now you’re compounding that struggle with multiple contributors jockeying for slots on the final roster. We like to pride ourselves on employing the “best man wins” m.o., but democracy can be tricky when you’ve got an even number of voters, and at least one on the panel is logically biased.
…and that, my friends, is how solo albums happen.
So I had begun writing songs for just such an occasion, knowing we had a still-new record out, and would probably spend a year or more getting behind that. I’d already amassed a bunch of material that didn’t seem right for the band, but might work in this setting, so I was basically assembling the missing pieces over the past few months, and looking around to see who I might enlist to play on an album once I had what I thought was a cohesive set together.
I’d started this process once before, just ahead of recording the last record, but that plan was foiled by my bandmates cherry-picking from that playlist things like “Unfound” and “Hands Off The Wheel” for inclusion on ‘Ten & 2’. With those two gone, it seemed best to wait until suitable replacements materialized before digging back into work on a record of my own. Besides, like I said, we had a new release to promote anyway.
Eleven months & change later though, we wanted to float out a few new songs to mark our tenth year, and since we were going to be in the studio already, working on Kenny’s eternally-forthcoming EP, we figured we might as well bang out a few basic tracks to tinker around with. This lead to my demo folder, and some things we’d started but left unfinished a while back.
I’ll get around to that solo thing again someday, I guess.
1) I’m Alright: My attempt to marry The Hellacopters with Enuff Z’Nuff. Lots of guitar on this one. Patrick & I cut heads some in the middle. I’m Steve Via, he’s Ralph Macchio…except I win on this one. A bit of deliberate lyrical ambiguity throughout, but I think it’s pretty obvious that bunny rabbits and unicorns weren’t frolicking in my head as I penned it. If you think it’s about you, it probably is.
Michael Saint-Leon really delivered a knockout mix on this one. Every little bit of ear candy we stuck in there gets the spotlight at some point.
2) In The Wreckage: This was actually cut for ‘Ten & 2’, but left off and uncompleted for a couple of reasons:
1) We already had “Learn To Let Go”, and I thought Kenny had delivered such a great ballad that we didn’t need another one in the lineup, and
2) While I’d cut a “scratch” vocal for it, I wasn’t feeling the lyrical treatment just yet, and needed to walk away from it for a while so I could revisit it later with some perspective. I’m glad I did, because it benefited from the second look.
Thinking this would be a solo tune after dropping it from the last record, I enlisted our Engineer/Producer Michael Saint-Leon to lay down some gorgeous slide guitar and a baritone lead guitar track that really brought things home. Kenny did some last-minute percussion to tie the whole arrangement together, and the finished product far exceeded my initial expectation of a simple stripped-down vocal/acoustic number. In fact, we only included it on the EP because it turned out so damn good that I was afraid to leave it languishing on a shelf in case it never got heard.
3) Satellite: We get back to our more strummy roots on this one. Matt & Kenny laid down a great pocket, Patrick contributed some tasty slide licks, and I mic’d up a Marshall JCM800 to run my harmonica through so it would scream. Hopefully we’ll be adding this to our live set soon, and I could see us moving more in this direction down the road. It says what it has to say under 3:30. No fluff, just the meat & the potatoes. Well, and maybe a little gravy.
So there you have it. 4 guys(and that one other guy pitching in), some drums, bass, and guitars turned up(and some turned down) to honor this particular passage of time with something a little less expensive than the diamond you’d be on the hook for if we were married and recognizing our decennium.
May 17th, on every streaming and download platform that will have us. Please give ‘em a listen while we’re making more.
The Great Affairs
The Great Affairs The 2019 Sessions, Volume 1
1) I’m Alright 2) In The Wreckage 3) Satellite
All songs © 2019 (Denny Smith: Toonsmith Toons)(ASCAP)
Produced by Denny Smith & Kenny Wright with Michael Saint-Leon Engineered, mixed, & mastered by Michael Saint-Leon @ The Switchyard, Antioch, TN
Additional recording at Pastry Park Audio Confectionery, Hermitage, TN
The Great Affairs:
Denny Smith: Vocals, Rhythm & Lead Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Harmonica, Piano
Patrick Miller: Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Slide Guitar
Matt Andersen: Bass Guitar
Kenny Wright: Vocals, Drums, Percussion
with Michael Saint-Leon: Slide & Baritone Guitar on “In The Wreckage”
Listen here, and pretty much anywhere else that lets you stream our download tunes, like one of the following: