Recording of WAYS

The Cold Stares making of “WAYS”.

After the “Mountain” album when we began to think about the next record there were a few things I knew I wanted to do. First, we had used some material that had been around for awhile for “Mountain”, and this time I wanted to write all the songs completely fresh. So in January I set out to write 12 songs from scratch that no one had heard us perform, and try to mostly not let them out of the bag until the album launched. Secondly, I thought it might be cool to construct the 12 songs for the record as 3 separate EP’s or collections of songs that basically were from the 3 areas of inspiration for the band. One, hard rock. Two, the blues. Three, country,western and folk ballads. Three different “WAYS” if you will.
So I wrote the songs in groups separately, each with their own mindsets as separate pieces that could stand on their own, but also in the end combine into a 12 song album.

When it came time to record, the original plan was to record the three EP’s in three different locations, each to have some meaning to it’s segment. The blues EP we thought we might cut in memphis, the hard rock EP maybe NYC or LA, and the acoustic EP I had planned on cutting out west in New Mexico while we were on tour for SXSW. One of the other things I had intended to do was to record the EP’s in studios that had some history and legacy that fit that style of music. In the end, and after a ton of research, most of the studios where our favorite albums were recorded were now either not open, or in disarray.

Sam Phillips studio in Memphis was on my radar for the blues EP, but when I started to really research the albums that had been made there we found that it was the one studio where really all three of our influences had really been recorded there. Some great blues albums, but also rock and roots stuff too.

So we booked a week at Sam to cut the entire record with the exception of some acoustic tracks that I planned to field record some of the parts. One thing we didn’t take into consideration was that making a record using a vintage based studio with great analog gear also meant us dealing with 70 year old equipment which can be temperamental to say the least. What started out as a few days ended up being over a month of back and forth trips to memphis to complete the album. By the end of the process we were absolutely exhausted, with sometimes 50 hours worth of driving in a week, and not near that in sleep. But in the end, we were both very happy with the result and I feel we got we wanted. We cut all the tracks live in the same room our heroes like Jerry Lee Lewis, Howling Wolf and Bob Dylan had. I sang on Wolf’s old microphone, and we sat at Sam’s desk upstairs and made revisions in the same chair Elvis sat in. We made an honest blue collar rock and roll record with a tip of the hat to our heroes, and hopefully left another memory in those walls.

The Cold Stares album “Ways” coming in 2019

ANNOUNCEMENT. The Cold Stares will release their next album “WAYS” in three installment EP’s. The first “white” EP will consist of 4 acoustic based songs and will be released May 1st 2019. The second “black” EP will be 4 hard rock songs, and be released on June 1st 2019. The last “blue” EP will be 4 blues tracks that will release July 4th 2019. August 1st the “WAYS” album in it’s entirety will be available as vinyl, cd and streaming services as well.
We are extremely excited about this process and project. What we can tell you- the “Black” album will be heavier than anything we’ve done so far. The “Blue” EP will be more bluesy than anything we’ve done so far. The “White” EP will represent our acoustic and songwriting style in a very personal and unique way. Each of these EP’s will be recording in a place and manner that contributes to the sound and feel of each EP and will be treated as it’s own entity. Holding back on some of the details of the recordings yet, but I can tell you each will be filmed for a short film and documentary about the process. We are very excited to be in this position, very blessed that “Mountain” is building the foundation for “Ways”, and can tell you that we intend to shake the ground with 12 songs never publicly heard before. Stay tuned. And thank you all for being here for this ride- For now here’s the cover artwork-

The story behind “Break My Fall”

The story behind “Break My Fall”……

We had been working in the studio the last week of the Head Bent sessions and wrapped up mixing “One Way Outta Here”. We were talking about getting together to celebrate finishing when Brian asked how many minutes total we had. When we added it up, we saw we were three minutes short of the record label’s requirements. We just kinda sat there with Greg Pearce, our engineer trying to figure out how we miscalculated. We looked back through some of the demos, but we were really out of time, we talked about a few options, but none of it made sense. The one thing we had on every other CS release prior was some sort of acoustic piece. I told the guys I would just go home and write something, and bring it in the next day to cut acoustically solo. Luckily they trusted me, and we just decided to go that route. I sat down with my national that night late when I got home, shut the world out of my head, and open my mind to a dusty western frontier, and “Break My Fall” spilled out within about 3-5 minutes. I came into the studio the next day, sat down in front of mic, dimmed the lights, and sang it with the emotion I felt the character in my story felt. I could relate in ways to his plight, and poured myself into his shoes and became him for the 10 minutes we recorded it. I was happy to have it on the album, personally loved the emotion of the track, and the guys commented on the songs lyrics, but we never thought that much about it- since the rest of the album was so big and heavy.

Our album released June 16th, and #Spotify chose “Break My Fall” to add to their “Acoustic Blues” playlist. Which means out of hundreds of thousands of songs, “Break My Fall” was one of 54 songs they thought was cool enough for the playlist. Other artists in the playlist include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Derek Trucks, and my hero Robert Johnson. The playlist has over 300,000 followers, and immediately it launched the song. As of this evening the track had about 20,000 plays, all since June 16th, and has been growing around 2,000 plays a day. It’s brought attention to the album and the band we didn’t expect, but it’s funny how things work. The song that wasn’t supposed to be on the album, and that was written so quickly and easily becomes the cornerstone for what probably will launch this album. We are very blessed, and I’m thankful that the song is one that gives me chills every time I get to that third verse. There are two vocal influences towards the end of the song, one a reference to one of my musical hero’s with the choice of phrasing on “Hangman”, and a nod in that line to one of my favorite films where that character says, “Hollis, Hollis…take these men to…..” well, the inflection in her voice was haunting to me, and I’ve been to the place where Hollis took those men in Mississippi. If you know the film, you know where I mean.

The story of the song is, a stranger walks into a frontier western town, late 1800’s. Long string of misfortunes and he just wants to start over. He’s been there a few weeks when he hears talk around town the a local girl had gone missing. She had been seen with the stranger having a drink at some point, and he was arrested to be questioned. After being beaten for a few days, he is tried and convicted of murder and sentenced to death. It’s 118 degrees, he’s standing at the gallows as they place the bag over his head. They tighten the noose around his neck, he pleads with the hangman for mercy, and just as the hangman pulls the lever, and the floor beneath him drops, the girl in question comes running up through the crowd, screaming “I’m alive”, just finding out that the man is being hung for her alleged death. She had been hiding with an outlaw out of town unaware of what had happened. That moment, the 6 feet of drop right before the rope snaps his neck, when the last thing he hears is her voice, the one thing that could bring him redemption, is what the song is really about. It is a parallel for so many things in our lives that we hold out hope for, pray for, that never come, or come to late. Bittersweet, but it is the story of life and death. All our character wants is something soft under him, someone to catch him to keep the rope from snapping his neck and taking his innocent life-
CT

Break My Fall
Town folks gather round as they tighten the noose on my neck
Preacher says son is there anything you like to say?
Loosen your tongue, son tell us all your last request
I whispered to his ear, the last breath I held in my chest
Hangman please let me down easy
Jesus hear my beck and call
If I’m a sinner, then lord please forgive me
And let something soft break my fall
Said I killed the daughter of a man, and no one took my bond
And I although I loved her, I’d never wished her any harm
They never found her body, but they beat me to tell where she lay
But I was not the one, who’d taken and led her astray
So hangman please let me down easy
Jesus hear my beckon call
If I’m a sinner, then lord please forgive me
And let something soft break my fall
Crowd grew still as he placed the bag over my head
And the rope was pulled tight, just moments until I would be dead….
When I heard the voice of a girl who screamed I’m alive!
The sweetest sound to my ears on the day that I died.
Hangman please let me down easy
Jesus hear my beckon call
If I’m a sinner, then lord please forgive me
Let something soft please break my fall