Dave Wright- HWY Vinyl Release
Just The Facts, Jack.
- We are an original, independant band from Melbourne, Australia established in 2011, playing something we like to call Widescreen Rock and Roll.
- We are in the process of recording our second full length album entitled HWY.
- Our aim with this campaign is to raise $5250 so we can press and release 150 copies of HWY on 180 gram vinyl.
- HWY will feature eight songs written by Dave Wright and will run for approximately forty- four minutes.
- Every person who contributes towards the campaign will receive a download of a bonus, non- album track “Save It For A Rainy Day”.
I grew up on a small farm in Kawarrren, 20 kilometres outside of Colac in the Otway Ranges, and whilst I loved the solitude of the bush from an early age I was drawn to the bright lights and noise of the big city. At the age of 7 I took my first piano lessons and although I don’t remember much in the way of popular music in our house I quickly became obssessed. I devoured the few records and tapes my parents had that weren’t classical: Elton John’s Greatest Hits, The Beatle’s Sgt Pepper, Chris De Burgh’s Into The Light, Bullamakanka’s self titled album. A varied and meagre collection. And yet the seeds of my musical loves are all there, fantastic pop writing, attential to lyrical detail, psychedelia, country, bluegrass, fine storytelling and a pride in Australia. I started writing songs on the piano, horrible, wordy dirges that aped Springsteen, Dire Straits, and Pink Floyd. By the time I turned 17 it was 1994 and at the height of grunge. I realised no one was playing keyboards so I taught myself guitar on a battered old nylon string classical guitar I found lying dormant in a cupboard that belonged to my mother. I spent the wretched summer I finished High School working in a timber yard and then I moved to Melbourne as soon as I had enough cash to fund a semester of University. Bands came and went, all sorts of bands. From Door’s tribute band Break On Through to original skate punk rockers The Fallouts I managed to play most of the venues in Melbourne. I kept writing songs, honing my craft, trying to find my voice, all the while playing other people’s songs in other people’s bands. And then, suddenly I was 34 and married, and I realised I had to get out and play my music, my way.
Enter Liam Cameron- Jayes, a colleague and friend. A wonderful singer and guitarist and budding drummer. I played him my songs and he gave me the encouragement I needed to get behind the microphone and sing them. We formed a two piece, Once Upon The Time In The West. Electric drums and acoustic guitar. Not the tools on which dreams are often made. But the nucleus was there and The Midnight Electric was formed. Liam, Rob, Tim, and myself played our first show as a four piece on August 20th, 2011 at The Edinburgh Castle and have racked up 50+ shows since.
Our first EP, Suicide Season, was recorded in 2012, (Listen to Suicide Season here) and was quickly followed by our digital only EP For King and Country in April 2013. (Listen to For King And Countryhere)The band expanded to include Daryl on keyboards and then a horn section and our first full length album The Lucky Country was released in November 2014. (Listen to The Lucky Country here) (WatchThe Lucky Country video here). What should have been a time for celebration was soured, however, as Liam left the band in bitter circumstances three weeks before the album launch show at The Yarra Hotel. A sold out and triumphant show went ahead and I took sole charge and command of the good ship DWME.
Widescreen Rock and Roll
Making music. It’s something I was born to do. Ask the guys in the band and they will agree with me. We do this thing because we need to. Maybe because we feel the rush of time and the urgency to create something enduring, something meaningful, something that moves people both emotionally and physically. We play music because we need to. After the release of The Lucky Country I sat back and took stock. Of the record and the band. There is a natural attrition that seems to dog bands and whilst we have been fortunate to keep the core of the Midnight Electric together drummers and trumpet players seem to come and go. We had all worked hard on the album and I was close to it, maybe too close. Certainly I cannot listen to it now without hearing things I would change and remembering compromises I regret making. I realised that eighteen months was far too long to spend recording an album and I was determined that this time around things would need to be different. We had been lucky to secure the services of a fantastic drummer in Neil Salmon and had started playing shows that compared to the sound I heard in my head. A wild melting pot of all the music I loved to showcase the songs and accentuate the lyrics I was writing. I wanted Dexy’s horns, Springsteen keyboards, the chime of Petty’s guitars, the swagger of The Clash. I wanted Gilmour solos, Prestwich drums, and Cure bass-lines all bundled up with the toughness of Hunters & Collectors. I wanted that indefinable Australian-ness of The Triffids, The Go- Betweens, Died Pretty, The Church, Paul Kelly, and Weddings, Parties, Anything. I wanted Widescreen Rock and Roll.
Introducing The Midnight Electric
Robert ‘Handsome Rob’ Barber- Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals
Forever chasing tone and feel, Rob seems to always come up with the perfect part for every one of my songs, be it tasteful country picking or a face melting solo.
Timothy ‘Big Tim’ Cavanagh- Bass, Vocals
The biggest man on the stage, Tim never forgets a part or a song. A sweet harmony singer and fellow Simon Gallup/Peter Hook afficionado.
Daryl ‘The Dr’ Johnson- Keyboards
Dry of wit, a virtuoso and ego-less player, Daryl always serves the song and yet somehow manages to make us sound so much better.
Neil ‘The Guv’nor’ Salmon- The Drums
A consummate professional. A taut and powerful drummer. A human metronome, Neil only needs to hear a song once to be able to play it perfectly.
John ‘The Headmaster’ Bryant- The Trombone
With a great ear for harmony and arrangement, John has over 50 years of professional playing and teaching under his huge collection of belt buckles. And boy, can he blow!
The first break I got was meeting Tim Dalton and Dave Turner, Senior Lecturers at South Melbourne’s SAE. They became champions of the band and encouraged me to explore the option of recording something with them at the University. What went from a live soundstage recording developed quickly into a full blown album project once I saw the facilities and realised just what these guys were capable of. Once we had determined that the project was a certainty I had the challenge of figuring out what exactly I wanted to say with the new album. There was an abundance of tracks. Some staples of our live set, some never played. Some songs I had just written and some that reached back to before our first release, 2012’s Suicide Season. I jotted down twenty track names and toyed briefly with the insane idea of a double album. But time, money, and the desire to make a cohesive piece of music made my decision for me. In the end I went the other way- 8 tracks, 44 minutes. 22 minutes a side. Perfect for vinyl. I had written a song called HWY before the birth of my daughters, inspired by the video to the TIm McGraw track “The Highway Don’t Care,” which had progessed past a short pop song to a full blown epic. It was a perfect title and closing track for the album, and from that moment the songs chose themselves. From a boy I had always been obsessed with driving, travelling, the great wide expanses scrolling past the window, the headlights in the rain, the lines rushing past in the dark. I settled on the idea of the road, of how it brings people together and tears them apart, and those dualities of happiness and pain became the critera for a song to be included on the album. We settled into Bakehouse to rehearse and do pre-production, only playing a few choice shows including The Kingston Harvest Festival alongside Mick Thomas (Watch Streets Of This Town) and the Light Of Day Festival in Ocean Grove where sax great Eddie Manion joined us for a few numbers (Watch Atlantic City here).
The Recording Process
For those of you unfamiliar to how a record is made it is more than just a simple case of putting the band in a room with some microphones and the music falls out, ready to be pressed. Whilst there are many ways to go about recording a band, ultimately I knew that The Lucky Country had suffered most from a lack of energy in the drum tracks, a result in the drums not being recorded whilst the drummer played along with the band. I was determined to capture some of the energy and excitement of our live shows, but harnessed, controlled, powerful yet restrained. Initial conversations with Dave Turner determined we would set up the core band of myself, Rob, Tim, Daryl, and Neil “in the round” on the SAE Soundstage and play the songs live whilst recording drums and bass. Horns would not be present for fear of bleed of their sound into the drum microphones, and whilst I lamented the loss of energy that their parts brought to my songs I knew it was the best option. After capturing drum track we would overdub the remaining instruments piecemeal in one of SAE’s smaller studios. Let me briefly lay out our process:
We began recording drums and bass in August 2016. Three fantastic days on the big soundstage conjured up images of Abbey Road. The drums sounded huge. The bass parts were spot on. Neil and Tim smashed it as the band created the energy I wanted. I began to think we might have something good here. Electric guitars followed as Rob had a literal plane to catch. He bought in his entire arsenal of guitars and amps and had a blast concocting tones and parts. A new, spontaneous line brought Bigger Than The Two Of Us to life. The requisite face melting solo to end the album proved more of a challange but was completed in due course. I played ok, too. It was sounding great. I began to think we might have something pretty decent here. I tracked acoustic guitars next, doubling each part with my Gibson J-45 and Rob’s Martin D-35. They sounded awesome. I began to hope we had something great here. Daryl was up next with keyboards. Piano, Hammond Organ, Synths. He played them all. For the first time on a DWME recording I have not played a single note of keys. One night was all it took for Daz to transform the rough edges and lay down the polish. Most were first takes, a consumate professional. Tim spent an evening on backing vocals which he completed with aplomb, and Neil added a sprinkling of percussion to the tracks to help brighten certain parts and lift the choruses.
It took me three days to do my vocal tracking. I worry more about my vocals than anything else and indeed they are the only thing I am never completely certain about. But I feel I have never sung better on a recording and while I know I will never have a fantastically technical voice we have captured some performances which I am proud of. As I listen back to the rough mixes I allow myself to believe that we might have something pretty special here.
We have been so excited to have have some very talented people appear on the album. Two of my personal heroes, Mick Thomas and Mark Wallace of Weddings, Parties, Anything fame, agreed to play and sing on my song Avenues Of Honour and the song has been transformed into a folk rock epic. The unique voice of Mick is instantly recognisable and he also played mandolin and bouzouki whilst Wally laid down his trademark accordion with nonchalance and contributed a high harmony to the final chorus.
DWME alumni Anthony Foon has contributed trumpet and flugelhorn to HWY. Anthony played with the band for 2015 before leaving to pursue a full time career in music. Anthony studied music at The University of Melbourne and currently performs in bands Fulton Street and Echodrama as well as playing various live and studio sessions.
We also had the absolute pleasure of having the beautiful Vanessa Hart and Althea Del Vecchio sing backing vocals on HWY. In five hours they channelled their inner sass and laid down some amazing harmonies for the album. Thanks to Rick Hart for allowing us the opportunity to hear them first with his amazing band Rick Hart & The Sweet Addictions!
We were thrilled to have pedal steel maestro and session wiz Mike Burke come in and play on two songs for HWY, Where The Needle Hits The Red and Avenues Of Honour. For over fifty years Mike has played with everyone from Little River Band to Brian Cadd, Barry Crocker to Kamahl and so many more in between.
The Road Ahead
As I write this I can see the finish line. Of course there is still a lot to do however the album is taking shape. With tracking completed it is time to take stock of our raw takes and assemble them into a rough mix for scrutinisation. And then we mix proper. And mix. And listen. And mix. And then we send the album off to be mastered for CD and Vinyl. And whilst all this is happening I need to organise artwork, book a launch show and arrange our very special HWY- In The Round Soundstage performance.
I am hoping that HWY will be the record I hear in my head, with none of those compromises to regret or sonic imperfections. I can hope. What I really want, however, is for HWY to be played loudly, on your turntable, on 180 gram viny,l as you study the sleeve and read the lyrics. That will be the culmination of a dream that began the first time I picked up a record. Because I now know we have something bloody special here.
How The Funds Will Be Used
Where does the money go?
- $2700 to press 150 copies of HWY on 180 gram vinyl at Zenith.
- $990 to master for vinyl at Crystal Mastering.
- $800 Artwork, layout, and design.
- $510 T-Shirt manufacture, postage and incidentals.
- $250 Pozible fees.
The expense of producing HWY has been negated somewhat by the generous folks at SAE where we have been able to track the whole album for free, off the clock. We’ve also had the support of the SAE film department to document the entire process at zero cost to the band. Ross Johnson has donated his time and taken wonderful photos to adorn the sleeve and record the studio experience. Our costs just to produce the vinyl are as follows. Please note this does not include the cost to produce CDs, pay for mixing or engage a publicist. We have raised money to cover most of this by playing shows and so are looking to raise only the dosh required to produce the LP. Any extra funds raised will allow us to spend more on publicity to really promote HWY and maybe produce a video. We are looking to produce 150 LPs on 180 gram vinyl with full colour sleeves, labels, download cards, and inserts. The cost of these will be $2700 pressed at Zenith. The album will also need to be mastered for vinyl at a cost of $990 at Crystal mastering. Artwork will cost $800. Fees will come to $250 and rewards and incidentals for the Pozible campaign including T- Shirt production and postage will consume the remaining $510.
The resurgence of vinyl is a strange and wonderful thing. For some of us, avid collectors, it never really went away. We know only too well the joy, and sometimes frustration, of that unwieldy, highly impractical, and yet immensly satisfying format. My main goal is producing something that vinyl lovers are not merely happy to pay $50 for, but will cherish, treasure, hoard, collect and play over and over again. Unlike The Lucky Country, HWY has been curated for vinyl. Sure, it will be released on CD. But ultimately, I have planned it to work as a two sided, long playing album. Which means 22 minutes of music maximum a side. When I say that The Lucky Country is over 60 minutes long and there were 20 songs vying for a slot on HWY you can understand a small part of the challenge I had in deciding what tracks, and ultimately what order, would appear on HWY. A double album would cost nearly double to produce, meaning we would have to sell it for close to $100 just to break even. This was just not an option. So it will be a concise, single album in the vein of Damn The Torpedoes and Born To Run.
My other concern, knowing a little about vinyl, is in maintaining the audio quality of the album, the standard of the packaging and artwork. Having never pressed vinyl before it is an unknown quantity and an expensive undertaking. I am determined for the whole package to be a thing of beauty, from the cover to the the inserts, the labels to the liner notes. And that is before you even drop the needle. With your help, I know I can make this happen. I have a fantastic team of talented people working across all facets of the album. Some, like audio engineers Felix Parnell, Daniel Morassutti, and Simon Clendinning are working for free. A film team headed up by Alex Du has shot and begun to edit hours of video. Again, for gratis. Ross Johnson has taken and edited hundreds of photographs. Giving countless hours of their time to a project they believe in.
Belief. It’s a strange thing. I believe in this project, this band, and in the power of music. Requesting support from the folks who support us time and time again is the only way to make this project happen, and is the best way a truly independant band with no management, label support or booker can put out new music that they can be proud of. Hopefully, when you decide to support us your generosity and faith are rewarded. Our greatest achievement when we reach our goal will be the pride you have when you listen to HWY, knowing that you were a part of the process.
Finally, if you want to stay up to date with all things DWME, please like the band on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/DWTME/ or follow Dave on twitter at https://twitter.com/DWMidnight and check out more videos and subscribe to the band’s youtube channel athttps://www.youtube.com/user/sirdave1977
Pledges are only processed if the targetAU$5250 is reached before 17:59 13th Nov 2016.