Featured Musician: Fallow Ground
There are many within the music industry that believe musicianship has gone by the wayside. On the surface that may be true, but those of us still seeking out authenticity, truth, and the human elements of music find it with a bit of digging. It’s an exhilarating feeling finding a new band or artist on SoundCloud to connect with. I could see Fallow Ground being of these ‘finds’ for many. They came to me with a plan to play together, live, and uncut. It’s a great way to record for so many reasons. Yes, there is less potential for post-production magic, there are some performance blemishes, but that’s kind of the point. These stage recordings are a bit like what it sounds like to hear a great band at Imurj, and it’s the most accessible recording service we offer. I was able to catch up with Albert Mcdonald to get some extra info about their ongoing project.
Tell me a little about Fallow Ground, how long have you been playing together and what type of project is this?
Fallow Ground is a relatively new endeavor but we (Shann Rushing – Guitar; Mike Ali – Bass; Don Kranbuehl – Drums) had actually been playing together more or less for 8 years. Prior to this, we were playing garage rock in a band called Eyesgolightning. I think we just kind of hit a wall musically and decided to step back and reinvent ourselves. We decided to find a way to get back to what we are more comfortable with…so maybe it was more about un-inventing ourselves and being more honest about who we are as musicians. We brought in Matt Brewer on piano, turned the amps down, picked up acoustics, wrote songs from a more personal level and started to focus on the craft of songwriting.
What is the story/inspiration for the lyrics of this song?
Well, Good Beat Down is pretty straightforward, it’s about kicking someone’s ass. But the real story and the departure point for most of the songs we have recorded with Imurj (and are scheduling to record) stem from the loss of a friend that I had a falling out with. He and I didn’t talk for years for a lot of reasons and there was a lot of animosity there. He took his own life and there was no way to reconcile that. In the aftermath of his death, there were a lot of “friends of friends” trying to come together but the situation was so toxic and volatile that it inevitably blew up. A fella who we’ll call Glossy John had some feelings he wanted to share with me, and I didn’t take too kindly to them, so I told him I better not see him around…and there you go…”Johnny don’t you come around my town.” It’s juvenile, sure, but it was honest and instead of actually going after him I wrote a song. But he still better not come around.
What is the process behind the writing of this song or writing in general for your band? What comes first?
I am the one that sketches out the ideas of the songs and then I bring them to the band to see what floats and what sinks. Music isn’t my paying job, so I have to find time to write. I kind of work it from two directions, I keep notes on song ideas and lyrics when I’m not on my guitar. Then when I have time I monkey around with progressions until I get something that sounds good. I’ll vocalize over top to find a melody and see if any themes rise to the top…really it’s mostly me just babbling some gibberish over chords until something sticks…I’ve got recordings on my phone that sound absolutely ridiculous. So then the notes come into play to help me develop the song idea. Most of this happens in seclusion and then when I feel like there is something there I’ll share it with the band where it’s honed in through their influence. Again, we aren’t full-time musicians so I try to be as efficient with their time as I can. The more developed the idea the better. That way we don’t get mired in fixing broken ideas. Instead, we’re sharpening what are hopefully good ones.
What kind of recording process did you use to make this recording?
We really wanted to try and pack in as much as we could into a single recording session. So we decided to try and record 6 songs live on the Imurj Stage with no over-dubbing. We felt good enough about the songs to try it and figured it would make a decent demo if nothing else. Afterward, we were really blown away by the quality. The experience was fantastic. Paul and Eli were super easy to work with and helped us navigate everything. This was our first studio experience as a band so it was important that we were shepherded along and felt comfortable asking stupid questions. We recorded those six songs in less than 3 hours with about 2 -3 hours of mixing afterward. I think we did about 3-4 takes of each song. Of those six songs, we kept four. We’re going to come back into the studio and record at least 4 more with the hopes of releasing a finished collection. We’ve had a lot of positive responses from people so far. WKNC has included us in their locals’ rotation and we’ve been featured on 2 BTR Today Podcasts. Pretty nice results for about four months of work for some part-timers. Once we get a few more songs on the setlist we’ll be out hitting the local clubs…look for us this summer.
Follow Fallow Ground on social media:
Audio Engineer – Imurj