Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day five – “Friend of Mine”

FIVE days now until the release of MOUNTAIN. We have some very cool announcements coming, and more good news. We have surpassed expectations and could not be happier about things happening in the Cold Stares world. So much of our success and these good things are because of YOU, our fans being relentless in spreading the word. Press release on Sleeping With Lions coming shortly today. In the mean time I’ll break down one of our favorites from the album “Friend of Mine”….

This one comes from my love of the poetry of delta blues. Son House, Skip James, story songs about real people. Lots of hidden stuff in this song, but it’s mainly about our character who has seen nothing but bad luck. In the end, he knows things are going to go south and when he stands before God he’s thinking “Hope I’m gonna find you’re a friend of mine”. I always loved the line in the first verse “I ain’t gonna lie I ain’t gonna pay rent”, which I borrowed theme wise from Thorogood’s version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”, where the landlord says “that don’t confront me, as long as I got my rent by Friday”. Our character is down on his luck and already decided he’s not paying the rent. The following line “Devils in the meadow and the dogs been sent”, means I see the trouble coming, and about all I’m going to do is let the dog out to go handle it.
Verse two things have caught up with the character and the police are at the door. Probably a number of things they could be there for, and perhaps none of them our character has done, but he knows his string of bad luck continues. Doesn’t say how the incident proceeds, but we know that he’s got bullets beside the bed and we find in verse three that he’s now on death row and heading to the gallows.
The line in the chorus “I’ve been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old” is a reference to the Levees we hear about in the delta blues songs. Lower Mississippi was notorious for flooding, and a lot of early delta songwriters referenced the Levee as kind of the last defense against the flood. I always loved Son House’s “Levee Camp Blues”, which also is where our song “John” was inspired from. Anyways, “standing on the levee since I was 6 years old”, simple interprets into- I’ve been waiting around since I was 6 years old for something bad to happen. Fairly hopeless, and maybe that’s the environment that our character grew up in, or around, but he’s felt damned from very early on. This is one of our songs that I would consider “Southern Gothic”. It certainly lends itself to the southern gothic novels, and for characters that I’ve grown up around all my life. Hope you enjoy-

13 blackbirds sitting on a fence
17 dollars that my good girl spent
I ain’t gonna lie, I ain’t gonna pay rent
Devils in the meadow and the dogs been sent

Oh Lord bless my soul
Been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old
Oh Lord when it comes time
Hope I’m gonna find your a friend of mine

16 bullets on the side of the bed
Telephone ringing right beside my head
Knocking on the door it’s the county law
Trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong

Oh Lord bless my soul
Been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old
Oh Lord when it comes time
Hope I’m gonna find your a friend of mine

15 years I’ve been waiting on the line
Preacher said “boy its about that time”
Hangman waiting at the gallows edge
Gonna try to tie a rope up around my neck

Oh Lord bless my soul
Been standing on the levee since I was 6 years old
Oh Lord when it comes time
Hope I’m gonna find your a friend of mine

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day four – “Gone Not Dead”

WE HIT 6000! In about a months time we’ve added another 1000 people to the Facebook page. That’s what it’s about and our goal is 10,000 by 2019. Please share the page with your friends if they need some rock and roll and help us get there!
6 Days now until the release of “Mountain”. Got a tracking number yesterday on the vinyls. Shipped out the CD’s yesterday from the Kickstarter, and as soon as the vinyls come in the rest of the orders will be filled ahead of schedule. Excited to see what this record does, and very happy with the choice we made. There’s a press release coming out in the next couple days about our progress/success and some more cool stuff next week. Please stay tuned and thank you for continuing to be here, and for telling other folk to check us out. It’s helping!

Here’s a break down on “Gone (Not Dead)”

I wrote “Gone (Not Dead)” in a time period when I was going back to the roots and listening to some influential albums for me. The Cult “Electric”, AC/DC “Flick of the Switch”, The Four Horsemen. Wanted to do just a straight ahead rocker with a fat riff chorus. I liked having those breaks in the verse to get a line in without the music underneath it, which also works great with us being a two piece band as far as dynamics. Lyrically the song is just about being trapped somewhere that is really heavy on you. A lot of tongue in cheek stuff here, innuendos and references. I’ll run through this one line by line below and give you my thoughts at the time I was writing it. I’m not saying the song is about Evansville, but I think we have had some frustrations that we as a band have always been bigger outside of the place we reside. We were getting played on radio outside of Evansville at the time. Still when we look at our reports and numbers we have always had more fans in listeners in Chicago, Nashville, or Atlanta than Evansville, and I think it’s always frustrated us. That being said, I wrote this song two years ago at a time when we were pretty frustrated with some specific situations. For all the things we would take issue with here, some of our best friends, fans and family also are here. But those of you living here, and reading this, probably have had some similar feelings. We just want to see some positive changes in this place and are trying to create that change. But this song could be about anywhere. I guess. Here we go….

Gone (Not Dead)
Dirty water on the holy ground (things are not right here…)
And the preacher done left town (not much chance of getting better, feels like hope has left town)
Spider with 7 legs (again, things not adding up and not seeming normal)
Never trust what your momma says (whoever is telling you that things are cool, and normal, nah, don’t trust them)

Nickel slots on a river boat (a big fancy smoke filled casino with a cheap game. At the time I was getting over cancer the city was letting people smoke in the casino for purely financial reasons, knowing it was killing our citizens.)
Rolls Royce on a dirt road (you can have the nicest things but if you treat them poorly you will destroy them)
Never know where I wanna go, oh no (anywhere but here at the moment?…)

Just wanna be gone from here, and not dead (Wanting to get out of here, before the place literally or mentally kills me)
Just wanna be gone from here, and not dead

Gravedigger with a broken back (Can’t seem to get things done)
Got a train, ain’t got a track (Can’t seem to get things rolling)
5th son of a 7th son (Not much luck at the moment)
Guess I could never really get it done (guess I’m stuck here)

Nickel slots on a river boat
Rolls Royce on a dirt road
Never know where I wanna go, oh no

Just wanna be gone from here, and not dead
Just wanna be gone from here, and not dead

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day three – “Killing Machine”

7 Days till the release of “Mountain” now. ARE YOU READY?
I know we are. Watching “Sleeping With Lions” stream 15,000 plays last night alone has us on cloud nine. Thanks to each and every one of you for continuing to demand your friends add it to their music libraries!
Today I’m going to break down- “Killing Machine”.

This is my (ct) current favorite song on the record. I like the cinematic visual of the song, the meanings and references. I’m hesitant on a few of these songs to continue to describe them too accurately, because I know that they can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But for now, I’ll tell you what the song means to me.
I had finished up the last season of “Hell on Wheels” (which is great if you haven’t take the time to watch), and was thinking about some of the characters. Thinking about who we are as people, and the things that add up to make us into that specific human who can take another’s life. Someone who has had his wife and family murdered and sets out on revenge during the civil war. My father, and step father sent to vietnam to fight and kill other humans for reasons they didn’t understand. My wifes’ grandfather sent to Germany to fight and destroy evil. Indian warriors fighting to save their land. All these situations that have brought men to the point where they would take another humans life. It’s heavy to me. First verse in my head is an obituary of a civil war soldier when our nation killed it’s own, brother against brother. The second verse the plight of the Native American post civil war. The last verse the great world wars. There are some hidden references and meanings in some of the lines, and I will leave that to the listener to decipher. The song is a character study on why these men became men that could kill and the heaviness and scarring that killing left upon them.
I would love to see the song make it to a television show in 2019, it’s certainly visual to me. Thanks for reading…. See you tomorrow with a break down of “Gone Not Dead”.

“Killing Machine”
Another man dead I didn’t want to kill
Another soul lost that I didn’t will
Another man’s pain that I didn’t feel
Another dead soldier laid on a hill

Killing machine, oh Killing Machine
you bought yourself a Killing Machine

Run for the hills navajo let’s go
Run through the streams and the valleys below
Run through the dreams of our fathers before
Passed in the night with blood on the door

Killing machine, oh Killing Machine
you bought yourself a Killing Machine

Pitch them down from the 2nd floor
Pitch them down to the dirt below
Kiss their mothers with lips so cold
Foreign soldiers never do grow old, do they?

Killing machine, oh Killing Machine
you bought yourself a Killing Machine

Breaking down the songs of Mountain, day two – “Wade in the Darkness”

EIGHT Days till the release of our new album “Mountain”. Today I’m going to break down “Wade in the Darkness” from the album.

After the good fortune of landing Sleeping With Lions on Animal Kingdom, I had started to really focus on cinematic themes. I had always written visually, and anything that I write I “see” in my head before and during the writing process. That keeps any lyrics from showing up in the songs that are generic or not connected personally to me. For about a week I re-emersed myself into a few of the shows I had watched that really impacted my writing in the last ten years. Carnivale and Deadwood from HBO, Heat, Sexy Beast, Unforgiven, some classic westerns. One theme that I kept coming back to was how we suffer things or go through things in our past that we try to leave behind, and disconnect from. Could be almost anything, and not always super negative, but sometimes when it’s something that was very emotional for us as humans we don’t really want to visit that place in our minds and relive through something with that kind of weight.
“Wade in the Darkness” is about entering those areas in our mind where those memories lie, and how those things in our past affect our future and our decisions. I wanted the song to stand on it’s own with drums, to have an eerie slide guitar in it, and be somewhat of a dark Daniel Lanois feel. We had pitched it to “The Walking Dead”, and were very close to a license with it but didn’t happen. I have a feeling it still might land in something this year. One of my favorite off the album for the feel. In my mind, visually the narrator was walking down a flight of steps into the darkness to deal with what he had left behind. I hope you enjoy it when you hear the song.

Wade in the Darkness
They say there are some things we never leave too far behind
Traces of faces, places in the back of our mind

Wade in the darkness, away from the light, and pray that we just make it out alive

Banded together, the fears that burn in your chest
Haunted by dreams that never seem to let you rest

Wade in the darkness, away from the light, pray that we can make it out alive

I hear you calling, I still hear you calling….
through the echo’s of this rain, that never stops falling,
that never stops falling

Wade in the darkness, away from the light, and pray that somehow we make it out alive
Wade in the darkness, away from the light, and pray that somehow we make it out alive

Breaking down songs of Mountain, day one – “Sleeping with Lions”

We are 9 days away from the release of “Mountain” now. We thought it might be cool to break down some of the songs from the album for you guys. We’ll start out with our single “Sleeping With Lions”.

Pre-cancer, so around late 2011 I had the main riff of the song and it had morphed into a song called “Come Apart”. At that time it was angsty relationship song with what I felt were sub-par lyrics. We were playing the song out some and had even cut a demo in the studio. “Come Apart” didn’t feel up to snuff to me, and so it didn’t make the cut. Move forward two years and I was in the middle of chemo and radiation fighting cancer. We were doing everything that we could to move forward and keep recording. I literally was in the studio with Brian and Greg with a rash covering my body from the chemo trying to cut guitars. It was during that time that I kept coming back to this powerful guitar riff, and the opening anthem type melody. It just felt like it deserved lyrics that would match the power of the riff. I had been reading and focusing on people that had faced great adversity and overcome through faith. Two men really stood out to me, one was Job and the other Daniel from the bible. Both having to survive on nothing but faith. I could really relate to that. At the time I was also thinking about legacy, and that if something happened to me, any lyrics I left behind I wanted to inspire people. I was driving home one night and starting singing a line in my head over the guitar riff. “I hold the light that lights the pathway”. The way I write a lot of times is to construct the entire song in my head. I write a line, repeat, add another, repeat two, and another repeat three, until I’ve written and memorized something until I can make it to a pen and paper. By the time I had gotten home I had the chorus. “I hold the light that lights the pathway, I hold the key that locks the door, I mark the steps that lead to freedom, I swim the sea that leads to shore”. It was a declaration of giving 100% trust and faith to God that he would lead me through whatever was to happen.
I sat down and wrote the rest of the song in probably 2-3 minutes. The first verse I imagined a prisoner, locked away with no hope. Metaphors for a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, a kid stuck in a bad home, someone fighting disease, people silenced for their views, anyone trying to overcome. “Well they took them a hammer, and they took them a nail. And they built you a prison, and they made you a cell. And they gave you no ransom, and they set you no bail. No view of a heaven, yea they gave you their hell.”
Second verse came easily as well, and it is the story of David which still makes me shudder to think about. “Daniel on his knees, he continued to pray, and the king he forbid him, and they led him away. And they laid him with lions, and they told him goodbye. They returned in the morning, just to find him alive.” It is the universal story of faith and perseverance.
Forward months later, and I was on the mend and we cut the new song which was now “Sleeping With Lions”. With no releases immediately coming up we sat on the song. Forward a couple years and we had given some songs to our new publisher who was synching songs to television. Out of all the songs he had to pick from he kept telling me that “Sleeping With Lions” would land somewhere. I wasn’t so sure, and didn’t see it as a single. Sometimes this happens when you are very close to a song and it seems like it was just written for your circumstance. Regardless, I said sure, give it a shot. A few months later I got the call that it had been chosen out of our songs for the “Animal Kingdom” show on TNT. The rest as they say is history. “Sleeping With Lions” then followed up to be placed on ESPN’s coverage of the X-Games this fall. We have a good inclination that you will also hear it on something big in 2019. It was released October 1st 2019 as the first single off of “Mountain” and was added to 12 Spotify Editorial Playlists. To put that in perspective, on our last album “Break My Fall” and “Head Bent” were added to ONE each. Previous releases saw NO playlists placements. “Sleeping With Lions” is currently doing 10-15,000 streams per day and has done 180,000 since October 1st at the time I’m writing this.
I want to add one more note while we are on this subject. Bands ON record labels release records and spend tens of thousands of dollars to have consultants recommend their songs for Spotify playlists. Even after doing that, most do not see any of their songs make the editorial playlists. Those lists are the new top 40. The fact that we have released this record, WITHOUT a label, without consultants, paid for by our fans, and had this success solidifies that it’s a new world out there and this can be done without labels. It requires a lot of hard work, a lot of hustle, and more than anything a lot of FAITH. See you tomorrow with another track explanation. CT

Sleeping with Lions on Spotify

Call or post a request for “Sleeping With Lions” on SiriusXM Octane or email Octane@siriusxm.com them and help us continue the success.

“Sleeping With Lions”
Well they took them a hammer
And they took them a nail
And they built you a prison, and they made you a cell
And they gave you no ransom, and they set you no bail
With no view of a heaven, yeah they gave you their hell

But I hold the light that lights the pathway
I hold the key that locks the door
I mark the steps that lead to freedom
I swim the sea that leads to shore

Daniel on his knees, he continued to pray
And the king he forbid him, and they led him away
And they laid him with lions, and they told him goodbye
They returned in the morning, just to find him alive….

I hold the light that lights the pathway
I hold the key that locks the door
I mark the steps that leads to freedom
I swim the sea that leads to shore

Over 100,000 streams on Spotify for “Sleeping with Lions”

“Sleeping With Lions” from the TV show Animal Kingdom is the first single off our new full length record “Mountain” set for release on Halloween. Yesterday we crossed over 100,000 streams in the first ten days! Thanks to everyone streaming and saving and sharing.

Get the song here-
Sleeping with Lions
And request it here!
SiriusXM Octane

Kickstarter goal exceeded!

So we want to officially say THANK YOU to every single person that pitched in with the “Mountain” album Kickstarter. It says a lot about the quality of fans, friends and family that we have. Looking through the lists the last couple of days, seeing names of folks that have been friends from our youth, family that always has our backs, or fans that want so bad for us to just catch a break. Very emotional for us. I can tell you this, those of you on this list- we will never forget your help- and wether it was $5 or $100, you are just as much a part of this album as we are now. We are humbled, and we are excited to show you what we are going to do with this album. Details on the track listing, some new merch designs, and some other news will be out in the next few weeks. God bless you, and thank you for doing your part in keeping rock and roll alive, now it’s our turn to put your investment to work— TCS

Kickstarter for album “Mountain” to help self fund “Ways”

Please check out our Kickstarter for “Mountain”, share and tag your friends. And thank you very much for playing a role in Cold Stares history- TCS

A tale of two records, publishing rights, and the struggles of a roots rock band in 2018.

As we began to discuss our next record which would have been titled “Ways” we decided together to pass on the record label offers we had and try to self fund the album in an attempt keep our music publishing this time. For those of you that don’t know when you see our music on a Monster Energy commercial, ESPN or a show on TNT, the money made from those performances actually go back to the record company instead of the artist.

Every record deal offer out there for us at the moment had the record label holding our publishing. Our last record deal the record label held our publishing. At this point in our career we were no longer willing to give that up, and artists shouldn’t have to. It’s hard enough to be a rock band out there right now, and for us to sustain our career we have to hold our licensing. So we decided to try to fund our record with our fans.

Here’s the dilemma. To properly record, produce, and promote “WAYS” we needed to raise around 20k. We have been really struggling on asking our fans to contribute that kind of money. We are a working class band, and we know a lot of our fans are blue collar working folks and to be honest it just felt a bit heavy to us. We built a kickstarter and then mulled for weeks over a discussion on what to do. We lost a lot of sleep, but through a lot of prayer and meditation we came to an answer.

What we decided. We decided we wanted to try to pay for the “WAYS” album ourselves. But how could we do that? Release “MOUNTAIN”.

Backstory- In the beginning of 2016 I was a bit over 2 years out cancer free. At that point I wasn’t for sure what life held ahead, but I knew my goal was to just live and make it to the goal we set with my doctors, five years. I also knew a lot of my friends that had gone through treatment with me had lost their battles. Not knowing exactly what we might have to deal with in the near future, we wanted to write and record everything I could so that if something happened to me I would leave a musical legacy behind for The Cold Stares. So we went in the studio with Greg Pearce and recorded “Dark Dark Blue”, and then “The Southern”. Both of these EP’s were released in 2016 with ZERO PR budget, zero buzz behind them. We also released some singles “Stickemup”, “Sleeping with Lions” and our version of the Allman’s classic “Whipping Post”. What we thought at the time, was that later when we got more well known our new fans would find these older EP’s. What we didn’t understand and what we have learned over the years is that without some PR budget behind ANY release- no one will hear or find it. No one is exactly pushing rock music onto the front page of Spotify or iTunes these days to be seen if you haven’t noticed. Those EP’s were very difficult to find online and most of these songs have never been heard outside of our close immediate fan base. So what we decided to do was take that group of songs, along with a few others our fans had never heard, remix and master them together and release as one album “Mountain”.

This group of 15 songs, all written around the same time, share a common theme and feel and we have always felt that they are just too important not to be presented correctly. Releasing “Mountain” will do a couple things, it will give these songs an opportunity to be heard, give our old fans a few new songs and remasters, and it will also give us an avenue to raise money for our February release “Ways”. We felt much better about raising the money with our fans in this fashion and we think it’s the proper way to move forward.

With your help we can meet or exceed our goal of 5k that will allow us to release “Mountain” and have a reasonable PR budget to get “Mountain” heard. Sales from “Mountain” and any additional money that might be possibly raised from this campaign will go to the funding of “Ways”. Any money we might be short of for “Ways” we will be funding ourselves. We honestly feel that “Mountain” will be our best album release to date, and when we look at the song listing I can’t say any other release comes close to summing up who we are musically. “Mountain” symbolically means so many different things to us, but more than anything what we’ve overcome, on our terms to be here with you. Thank you for your support in getting us here, and beyond. God Bless-

THE COLD STARES

“Break my Fall” hits 1 million streams on spotify!

FREE GIVEAWAY!
So this happened this weekend. Our track “Break My Fall” slipped over a million streams on Spotify alone. I get messages from around the world weekly about this song and cannot tell you how much it means to me in this day and age, that a song like this connects with so many of you. We wanted to do a giveaway as part of a thank you. We will draw a name from anyone sharing this post tomorrow morning at 9am and that person will receive an autographed Cold Stares CD or Poster, your choice in the mail this week. Many of you have asked about a tuning/tab break down of #breakmyfall so I’ll also put together a video for you guys as well this week. Please continue to add #breakmyfall to your Spotify playlists and thank you all so much-