After 1999's "Teenage Folklore" and 2000's "The Effects of Eating Too Much Television", a third album was surely right around the corner for Rocket Park, right? Well, after cranking out two full length albums in two years at our expense while still working day jobs, we needed a breather. So we spent 2001 gigging, recording demos and tracks for various artists compilations, and responding to some indie label overtures. When 2002 rolled around and we were no closer to being signed, we thought about all we'd learned from Mike Martin (engineer and co-producer of the previous albums), bought our own recording gear and decided we would paint our own masterpiece. Little did we know the final brushstrokes wouldn't be in place for another seven years.
The actual recording of the album wasn't that problematic, aside from the occasional arguments that always emerge from a shared artistic endeavor. It's everything that followed that got sticky - a ridiculously protracted mixing process taking place in another city, personnel changes, a lack of effective leadership resulting from a debilitating divorce (mine), indecision, self-destructive perfectionism and, eventually, the demise of the band itself. Our friend Lauren warned us that putting the word "goodbye" in the title of our album would curse us. I can only counter that we were probably already doomed and were just reflecting that!
It's all a damn shame, really, because it really would've been (and, I guess, is, now that it's floating around) our best album. The material is stronger, the arrangements are more sophisticated, the performances are more assured. It's more of a band effort (and less naive) than "Folklore", more consistent (and less openly derivative) than "Television", and I think the engineering compares favorably to both albums. Eric Moore pounds the drums better than ever (the fill at the end of "Tell It to Samantha" may be one of his finest moments) and Dave Harris' bass lines always find that happy medium between rhythmic simplicity and melodic adventure. And, uh, I like the stuff I did, too.
Steve Minnis handled all of the guitar solos during the original sessions, and while there's no questioning the brilliance of the work that made it to the finished product, we were less convinced by a few of his efforts and used his departure from the band as an excuse to have Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets replace them. Thus we have his solos on "Fade to Grey" and "Tell It to Samantha" and a credible imitation of a meowing cat on, uh, "Stray Cat". And speaking of "Fade to Grey", Steve's short-lived replacement Scott Swartz played pedal steel and our old friend Mark Stephens of The Highway Matrons sang the lead vocal.
In closing, all I can say is - sorry it took so long! I would also like to dedicate "Tell It to Samantha" to the memory of Scott Edwards, who I learned had passed away a few years ago. He was an excellent bassist and harmony vocalist who provided the riff that ended up becoming central to that song. Our collaboration in Not Actual Size (1991-1992) was short and turbulent and it's a shame we never got to try it again without the impediment of youth. Rock on, brother.
released December 31, 2003
Brian Andrew Marek - lead and harmony vocals, keyboards, guitars, loops, glockenspiel and percussion
Eric Moore - drums and percussion
Dave Harris - bass guitar, harmony vocals and percussion
Steve Minnis - rhythm and lead guitars, harmony vocals and percussion
Brian Henneman - lead guitar on "Fade to Grey" and "Tell It to Samantha", e-bow kitten on "Stray Cat"
Scott Swartz - pedal steel on "Fade to Grey"
Mark Stephens - lead vocals on "Fade to Grey"
Lauren Banis - additional harmony vocals and handclaps on "Gurl de Luxe"
produced and engineered by Rocket Park at (subliminal banana) studios, Richmond Heights, MO in 2002
some overdubs recorded by Adam Schmitt at Parasol Studios, Urbana, IL in 2003
mixed by Adam Schmitt and Rocket Park
all songs written by Brian Andrew Marek except
"Fade to Grey" and "Stray Cat" (Harris/Marek)
"Menthol" and "Canada" (Marek/Moore/Thompson/Harris)
"Tell It to Samantha" (Marek/Edwards)
"Gone Away" (Marek/Shirley)
Brian Henneman appears through the courtesy of The Bottle Rockets
"Tell It to Samantha" is dedicated to the memory of Scott Edwards
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