Volebeats – Below the radar or: Keep a secret
Meanwhile, the Volebeats’ budding relationship with Bloodshot floundered when the band submitted a master tape of “Maggot Brain” that could only be made to fit on a seven-inch at 33 rpm, resulting in the release of a particularly awkward single that plays at 33 on side A and 45 on side B. Unbowed, Bloodshot planned another single with the Volebeats, asking them to contribute McCreedy’s tune “Detroit 318” as the flip side to Whiskeytown’s “Highway 145.” But disagreements between the band members and miscommunication with the label ultimately torpedoed the Volebeats’ involvement, and Bloodshot enlisted Neko Case & the Sadies instead.
“The business end of the Volebeats has always been weird,” Michalski says. “There’s no management. It’s just a bunch of guys in a basement, churning out hit after hit, and no one’s taking care of business.”
While the Volebeats moved to Third Gear Records for Mosquito Spiral, McCreedy has chosen to stick with Safe House for his upcoming solo debut, Streamline, tentatively scheduled for a late-summer release.
McCreedy, whose parents owned a record store, was fresh out of high school when he and his pal Jeff Oakes formed their first band, the Frames, in 1981. Five or six years later, McCreedy left the band, but it wasn’t long before he’d reunited with Oakes in the Volebeats, who had just released Ain’t No Joke. McCreedy was the rhythm guitarist, but he quickly distinguished himself as a songwriter, and the Volebeats ultimately recorded 16 of his songs, including such gems as the title track of Sky And The Ocean and that album’s “Two Seconds”, the Spectorish “Shannon” on Solitude, and four co-writes with Oakes on Mosquito Spiral.
McCreedy quit the Volebeats in 1999. It wasn’t the first time he’d done so, and for similar reasons: In 1992, he followed a girlfriend to California for a year; this time and this girlfriend drew him to Minnesota.
“I had a number of reasons for leaving the last time,” McCreedy says now. He’s speaking by phone from Detroit, one of several places he calls home these days. Since leaving Minneapolis in August 2000, he’s split time between Michigan, Vermont, and Nashville.
In less than two years in Minnesota, he worked in a series of health-food stores, hung out in guitar shops, and wrote a lot of songs. In fact, he says, the day job spurred his songwriting.
“I got a lot material for songs, because a lot of sick people come in to health-food stores,” McCreedy says. “A lot of people come in as a last-ditch effort, and there’s a lot of sadness that goes along with that.”
He added these new songs to the hefty backlog of material he’d accumulated from his Volebeats days, and, reveling in his newfound creative freedom, set about to record them.
“As I was four-tracking, I was using a lot of children’s toys instead of other instruments,” McCreedy says. “And the tapes I was using were starting to stretch, so I’d get these really weird sounds coming through. Then I’d vary the speeds and do a lot of dubbing and over-dubbing, so the stuff I sent to Mike sounded warbly and weird.”
“Mike” would be Mike Daly, the former Whiskeytown guitarist McCreedy enlisted to produce Streamline. Bolstered by a cast of studio musicians Daly recruited, McCreedy began recording the album over two weeks in New York in early 2000, with additional work done at the beginning of this year. Contributing harmony vocals on a handful of tracks was Laura Cantrell, who covered his Volebeats song “Two Seconds” on her album Not The Tremblin’ Kind.
McCreedy plans to tour under his own name once the album is released. “It thrills me,” he says. “I don’t really know how to put it into words, because I’ve never done a solo record before. It’s definitely a creative leap, and it’s exciting. It’s my baby.”
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