Published on September 10th, 2012 | by Ballard Lesemann0
Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ Records new EP at Ocean Industries
For guitarist Sadler Vaden, returning to the Lowcountry to perform on stage as a member of Georgia-based rock group Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ is a cool deal. It’s even sweeter for him to record new songs with the band at a Charleston studio.
Earlier this summer, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ released a five-song EP titled Songs From the Laundromat on the Redeye label. It was the first installment of a four-part series of mini-albums to be released seasonally into 2013.
According to the band, each disc will have distinctive themes or personalities. The second CD, a punk-tinged six-song collection titled Songs About Cars, Space, and the Ramones (produced by Paul Ebersold at Sound Kitchen Recording Studios in Nashville), is due on Sept. 18 on Redeye. The band recently blazed through three of singer/songwriter/guitarist Kevn Kinney’s psychedelic/garage-rock song sketches for the third EP in a quick studio session at Ocean Industries on James Island.
“It was so simple, I’m not sure the session even happened,” says Eric Rickert, one of Ocean’s full-time engineers in attendance. “I’d love to work with more bands that were that well-rehearsed. It makes it so easy. Thinking is dumb. It’s just about the rocking.”
Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ has been in the rockin’ frame of mind for nearly 27 years. On Sat. Sept. 1, they drew a full house at the Windjammer and performed a long set of classics including “Scarred But Smarter,” “Fly Me Courageous,” and “Straight to Hell” as well as several newer originals and renditions. The next morning, Kinney and his bandmates — bassist Tim Nielsen, drummer Dave Johnson, and Vaden — loaded through the Ocean’s warehouse-like foyer, set up their amps and gear in the state-of-the-art recording rooms and isolation booths, and hunkered down in the fancy control room with their road managers and engineers.
A Lowcountry native and longtime local musician, Vaden officially joined Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ last fall. These new EPs are the first D’N’C’ releases to feature his guitar work with the band.
“The way we’re doing these EPs makes it very fun and exciting for everyone involved,” Vaden says of the band’s intermittent studio get-togethers. “We’re either on the road or in the studio, and these EP sessions have been a lot of fun.”
Vaden seemed totally at ease with the band during the Ocean session. This kind of work comes naturally to him after spending years performing and recording his own songs with the rock trio Leslie. He may be considerably younger than his new bandmates, but he played and behaved like a seasoned pro.
“I feel lucky to be able to contribute and be a part of it,” Vaden says. “I’m happy to be rockin’ with them. This EP series allows Kevn and the group to explore ideas and collaborate. It makes it like a magazine subscription for bands, especially between LPs. The band has been together for years, so they have permission to do whatever they want to do.”
Atlanta-based studio man Chris Griffin, a longtime D’N’C’ colleague, oversaw things as the main engineer. Johnson kept time at the center of the room on a kit comprised of the studio’s sturdiest drums and cymbals. His bandmates set up on either side of him, plugging in their guitars and headphones. Cans of Guinness Draught and tall cups of coffee cluttered the back table of the control room lounge. Vaden played rhythm parts and solos on his Gibson SG through an array or effects and amps. Kinney sang melodies and random lyrics into a scratch vocal mic.
The main goal was to nail the basic tracks (bass, drums, and guitars) for three songs. Griffin plans to take the tracks back to his studio in Atlanta and have Vaden and Kinney add vocals and solos over them.
Ocean Industries co-engineer Jeff Leonard assisted the session. “They were all super nice, He says. “At one point, Kevn asked if he could buy us Starbucks, and I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute … aren’t we suppose to be running and getting you Starbucks?’ That was the whole feel of the session. It was almost like they were accommodating us. For example, we had the drums set up for Dave and he didn’t even move anything when he got here. They just walked in and played.”
“You have be on your toes with Kevin,” Leonard adds. “I don’t think I said ‘stand by’ once. He just counts in the band, and they get going. And you’d better have hit the ‘record’ button. That’s just the way they work. I think a couple of takes start with ‘three-four’ because I didn’t hit record in time for ‘one-two.’ Overall, it was a very productive day.”
“This session at Ocean was a trip into psychedelia, which is something Kevn has always wanted to do,” Vaden says. “Each one is different,” Vaden says. “Who knows? The next one might become a mini-rock opera.” —T. Ballard Lesemann
Look for the third Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ EP to be released this winter. Visit drivinncryin.com for more information on the EP series.
Top photo by Eric Rickart, courtesy of Ocean Industries.
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