Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Still Standing Revisited

Thanks to NoiseTrade, my album Still Standing is available to a whole new audience, starting today. I thought I’d tell the story of how it all happened…

Back in 2005, through a tragic series of events (a story for another time and place), I was given some money and encouraged to record some of my music. I was very excited, and I wanted to do it right. I had heard enough really bad self-released music from church worship pastors to make me very cautious about the whole process. I figured I wasn’t going to have this opportunity again, so I’d better do it right. Knowing that a good producer can be the difference between a terrible album and a good one, I started looking for one, but I really had no idea where to look or who to ask.

Around the same time, I read a cool article in the Sacramento News & Review about a hero of mine, Michael Roe. (It’s worth your time. Read it here.) Mike is the leader of The 77s, one of the greatest bands of the 80s and 90s. Never heard of them? It’s your loss. When I was in college in the early 90s, they were one of my favorite bands. Their album “Sticks and Stones” was the soundtrack to my life. Mike’s voice was a thing of wonder: snarling and vicious one minute, high and lonesome the next. And his guitar mastery is legendary. His songs? Masterpieces, chronicling the joys and sorrows of being human. I challenge anyone to find a better piece of songwriting than “The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life.”

Mike is also a member of The Lost Dogs, along with Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos) and Steve Hindalong & Derri Daugherty (The Choir). He's also an amazing solo artist. I've seen him hold an audience captive for two hours with just his voice and an acoustic guitar.

I remembered that Mike had produced some tracks for a friend of mine, Thor Wismar. (My family really enjoyed his band, Shadrach, and their “Stepping on the Atmosphere” CD.) At the encouragement of some good friends (Jon Simpson and John & Danielle Dearborn spring to mind), I called Thor and asked him for Mike’s number. He gave it to me. Then I had to call Mike Roe and see if he would be even remotely interested in producing my songs. Gulp. I paced around the room, took a deep breath and called. And thus began one of the coolest and most fun seasons of my life!

Mike drove from Sacramento to Redwood City, and we went over songs and ideas for arrangements. It was such a trip to be sitting in the Peninsula Covenant Church choir room with my rock god hero! We had lunch together and got started… Then for the next several months, I would drive to Sacramento from Monday through Wednesday, stay at Mike’s apartment, and record with him and Ralph Stover. PCC was really gracious to allow me to spend so much time on the project. We ended up recording 10 tracks, one worship song by Terry Butler (“Psalm 19”) and nine of my songs. Mike played guitar on all the tracks. Ralph did the programming, loops, etc. Mark Harmon and Bruce Spencer (the other 77s) played bass and drums, respectively. (Am I really in a room with The 77s? Are they really playing my songs?) I arranged and sang all the vocal parts, with the exception of “Satisfied Forever,” where I was joined by my lovely wife, Luanne, and Dr. Love himself.

I worked hard to put together great liner notes. John Meyer did all the photography. Brian Heydn did the artwork. Tim Peterson created a great website. We put it on iTunes and CD Baby and IndependentBands.com and IndieHeaven and even Amazon. I got a Myspace account and started promoting it there. I was reviewed in print in Worship Musician Magazine and online at The Phantom Tollbooth.

It was a blast. Mike was awesome, and I love that I can call him my friend now, not just a favorite artist. (I have to confess a little bit of fanboy geekiness though... He's in my phone at speed dial 77.)

Tomorrow I’ll talk a little about the songs and post the lyrics. But for now, please visit NoiseTrade and download the album for free! And spread the love by encouraging others to download it too.


victoria said...

I have finally figured out the value of twitter.

Matt, you won't remember me but I attended PCC like 8 or 9 years ago and remember you and your beautiful wife. You have twins, right? We attended a few park days together.

I have many friends that still attend PCC and I'm a fan on your FB page but I learned about your NoiseTrack offer/album through a person that retweeted it in Tennessee that I've never met and to be honest, not sure why he even ever decided to follow me on twitter.

But I told five friends, downloaded your album without even realizing it was your album!

I think I'm going to tell another five friends. It's a great album and I'm already loving it and am thankful to find out about it. Thanks!

Matt Nightingale said...

Thanks for this cool story, Victoria! I'm so glad you found me! Enjoy the music, and pass it on!

Suzie said...

it was fun reading about this time again...so strange, as it was all starting we were in the process of leaving! So much has changed for both of our families...isn't God amazing? I still enjoy your album!

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