Sometimes musicians come along that shoot like a rocket straight to the top of the public consciousness. Colorado's own americana singer songwriter Reed Foehl is no stranger to the readers of No Depression or on riding that rocket ship of music career success. Astute readers and music fans alike can recite Reed's career highlights from his days as founding member of the worldwide indie folk phenomenon Acoustic Junction, to a present day critically acclaimed solo career culminating in the recent placement of his emotional song "One last song" on the hit network TV show The Biggest Loser.
So what does a musician whose at the top of his career do to top his last efforts? Good question. Apparently, the answer in Reed Foehl's case is to bring in the best folk and americana musicians from around North America and decamp to a Vancouver, British Columbia studio and see what comes out.
On the latest studio outing, Reed worked with studio wizard John Rahan along with americana guitar ninja Jefferson Hamer (formerly of the Wayfarers and Great American Taxi), along with various members of ethereal Canadian folk rockers the Be Good Tanyas. As an added bonus for No Depression blog readers, we have the full interview with Reed Foehl and Jefferson Hamer noted below. It's funny and hopefully gives you an insight into the inner workings of these two highly talented musicians. Enjoy!
How did the collaboration between you two start?
first time I met Jefferson, was at a Great American Taxi rehearsal, never knew or had seen him before that. Next thing you know we were signing each others songs on stage. Originally we were a put together band for a benefit, I left the band early on and Jefferson stayed with them a bit longer. We became friends and kept in touch, trying to get together to write and play. Finally we did and became good friends with equal admiration for each others work.
I met Reed at the first rehearsal for Great Amercan Taxi, a new band with Vince Herman, Chad Staehly, Eben Grace, Jake Coffin, and Will Downes. I had heard his old band Acoustic Junction when I was in high school, but I didn't meet Reed until 10 years later. In the fall of 2007, we discovered that we were neighbors, and he began coming over to my house to play music and record demos of some new songs. We did some co-writing, and the song "Sweet Love of Mine" from the new record was written on my porch in East Boulder. When Reed discovered I knew my way around a Pro-tools rig and had good arrangement ideas for his songs, he invited me to produce his new record up in Vancouver along with John Raham.
Why did you (Jefferson) move to NY away from Colorado?
For fun and profit. So far, I've had lots of fun...
What challenges did you face when writing the songs for this new album? And for Jefferson, what were the challenges in developing your musical parts to fit Reed's vision of this new album?
Whatever challenges there might have been, are challenges iIwelcomed with open arms. If I could write songs for records every day I would, of course there were alot of songs...probably a half dozen that didn't make it. We found our groove, sound and approach halfway thru the 2nd trip out there. It is a process to figure out the identity of each song and have fit together on the same record. I'm happy with the ten songs we finally rounded up though.
I try to play the thing least likely to annoy the other musicians. If I get lucky, I'll stumble into something that meets this criteria and is still fresh and exciting. Once in a while, I'll go out on a limb and try something ridiculous and everyone loves it. Other times I play the thing I'm sure will be a hit and people start yawning. When I'm composing new melodic parts or accompaniments, it's very much trial and error. My only rule is to play- at least acknowledge- the melody wherever possible. Never lose track of the melody.
What is the name of the studio in Vancouver you chose to record at? Why was this studio chosen? What was the studio like?
: Ogre Studios. (It) was chosen because I wanted to work with John Raham. I had known him and his records he did with Kinnie Starr and " The Be Good Tanyas". I had always wanted to work with him and finally we made it happen. The studio is in an old warehouse in the industrial section of Vancouver; lots of sirens and car horns. John has it dialed in acoustically but needs some velcro for his mouse that constantly falls to the ground. It has all the right mikes and the right guy to place them and make them sound good.
Ogre Otudios - owned and operated by John Raham, is a home-built operation full of vibe, soul, love, and quirk. John is a tireless researcher and experimenter, and he built the studio himself. He's got vintage mics, a great tracking room, a fridge and a microwave. What else do you need?
What were the challenges in getting together studio musicians for this project? What were the studio musicians names who played on this recording? How did the collaboration with Frazye and
Trish from Be Good Tonyas come about?
I went up there with Jefferson, so the core was Jefferson, John and myself. We laid down the foundation. then we brought in Frazey and Trish to do there thing, which they do so well...which made "The Be Good Tanyas" so well-liked.
I had known John for a few years and he was drumming with The Be Good Tanyas." I went to see them on tour in Denver and was hooked. I wanted to have them on my record. It all worked out just fine. The rest of the guest musicians were friends of John's: working musicians in the Vancouver area: Mark played stand up bass (whom also was the bass player for " The Be Good Tanyas" and we had a guest trumpet player that made the trumpet sound like a flock of geese. We also had a student come and play french horn and Jefferson played the glockenspiel in his underwear...We pulled out all the stops.
What is the name of the new album? Is there any significance behind the name?
"Old Country Fair", its a line from my song "Good Company" and the line goes: "we'll meet after sunset in the old country fair and we'll dance thru the twilight in the cool evening air". I haven't got the artwork yet but thought the imagery could be great. Using fair as an adjective, more as bucolic and massachusetts farmland, like where I grew up rather than the ferris wheel imagery that might come to mind.
What are the plans to promote the new album?
Do the best we can with what we've got. I'm oping to start it out with a cd release in Boulder/Denver with "The Be Good Tanyas", Jefferson and the whole band. the plan is to tour with the band; get this record heard.
I'm going to join Reed for shows in New York, Boston, Denver, Boulder, San Francisco, and LA. I've also volunteered to ride my BMX bike around and throw CD's onto people's front porches. I'm going to perform wearing a yellow jumpsuit emblazoned with the album artwork.
artists mentioned in this article can be found at their respective websites noted below:
have fun out there guys!
Got a tip on a notable musicians you feel should be covered here on No Depression? Shoot me message and let me know!
your friend in music,
B. Dutch Seyfarth