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the making of…
i’d been looking for a project to do with my friend scott schorr ever since we met during the walrus years. having chalked up over sixty ‘mondays songs‘ by late 2011, there was a lot to choose from. scott dug through the archives and picked out a couple dozen favorites, which i whittled down to twelve that made sense to me as a unified project. during the recording process i swapped ‘10 o clock news‘ for one of my most recent releases, ‘(pump up the) valium‘; and number of tracks hit lucky thirteen when i wrote a prolonged intro to ‘up, up, and away,’ called ‘helium.’ over all, i spent six months reworking the songs with new vocals, deeper arrangements, or in the case of ‘the weather,’ just leaving things be. i spent another two months mixing everything.
the result is the most sustained mood i’ve created on an album. i’ve always felt the need to modulate between up and down, happy and sad, loud and soft, servicing the short attention span. but on ‘monday songs’ the vibe is pretty much sustained from beginning to end, the variations occurring mostly in the textures. my experience has been that this allows for closer listening, the details are magnified. i think scott’s initial set of selections set the stage, as he chose some songs, like ‘still life‘ and ‘lost and found,’ that i would not have thought to include, but that turned out to be particularly rewarding to deliver.
another detail in the same vein was the addition of bass parts to many of the tunes. the original ‘monday songs,’ with few exceptions, are a voice and an instrument, sometimes a harmony vocal. so as i pieced things together, i wanted to err on the lean side, rather than oversaturate the arrangements. the result was very little bass on the first set of mixes. scott suggested trying to add some bass to give the songs more bottom end. apart from piano, bass is the instrument i’m most comfortable with, after a decade playing with my former bands, but i was reticent. everything felt done, and i didn’t want to force things. i decided to go the paul mccartney route, adding bass more as counterpoint, than as reinforcement for the root. the first tune i tried was ‘gravity,’ and the bass you hear there is pretty much the first thing i tried out. from there i moved on to other tracks, ‘nadine,’ ‘valium,’ ‘ghost story,’ and ‘being with you.’ the process was completed in just a few hours, and now it’s hard to think of these songs without the bass. in fact, the bass lines feel almost definitive on some of these tracks. ah, the joy of feedback.
the cover photo was taken on a monday evening from the twelfth floor of the bellevue, wa, building where i earn my living. it was just a quick ooh-that’s-beautiful shot, no plans beyond that. later when i saw it, the see-through andy really struck me: both as a reflection of the mood of the record – the beauty of an ending seen through the transparent artist – but also the anonymity of it, i’m there, but not there. i’ve never been comfortable with the concept of an artist named ‘andy liotta,’ which is why i recorded as billie burke estate for so many years. it wasn’t about me, it was about the music. i still feel the same, but it felt more honest to state who actually made the record, rather than front an imaginary band. now it’s come full circle, and i have the urge to go back and update the band name on the two billie burke estate albums. i’ve created a monster.
the album is dedicated to matt margolin, who was the guitar player and the other songwriter for smokin’ rhythm prawns. he passed away suddenly in october of 2011. i was recording the original version of ‘fading to grey’ at the time, and i added the middle section in his honor. the completion of the song brought a grief-stricken catharsis for my wife and i. from 1988 to 1992, during the prawns era, we were seldom out of each other’s site, and we were good friends before and after. he was a sweet and generous man with an ear for the atonal, a love of the minutemen and the golden state warriors, and i have little doubt that but for our relationship through college, playing music in testes 4-1-5, p.b. dirigible & the mystic idiots, bash bash bash, and smokin’ rhythm prawns, i would never have had the guts or drive to do music in any way more public than playing along with genesis albums in my room.
all songs written, performed, recorded, and mixed by andy liotta
at the other basement, seattle, wa
produced by scott schorr and andy liotta
mastered by ed brooks at rfi mastering, seattle, wa
released september 1, 2013
photos and cover design by billie burke
all songs published by cat from guatemala music (ascap)
thanks and love to kristin, maude, and cormac
for matt margolin