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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Surf Music General Discussion »

Permalink New Band!! The A-Men Album Release

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It is with much excitement that I am able to finally announce the release of the first album by the A-Men! It has taken 7 long years of International Collaboration to finally get this album recorded, mixed and mastered and sent to off to get manufactured. This has been a labor of love and it is finally happening! The Story behind this recording is very special in my opinion, and I hope it inspires others to start collaborating regardless of physical proximity to other players. We are in a bold new age of technology and music is always at the forefront of every civilization in regard to technology. Just like the original Wave of Surf musicians who were at the forefront of electric instrument development, we can once again be adventurers and explorers to push the technology to its limits. I will share our story next, but If you want to purchase the CD you can order a copy here:

http://kunaki.com/Sales.asp?PID=PX00Z0T1EH

If you prefer digital Bandcamp or to preview the entire album, here is our page:

https://a-men.bandcamp.com/releases

So here's our story if you’re brave enough to read it:

Set the wayback machine for 2012 when me and my best bud Fady decided we were going to the Surf Guitar 101 Convention, mostly to see our favorite Surf Band from Denmark, El Ray! We got there on Thursday and promptly went to see the show in L.A. where El Ray was playing. It was on this night that Fady and El Firetone struck up a conversation and realized that they had both taken guitar lessons from the same guy in Raleigh NC! What a coincidence! I quickly got involved in the conversation and soon we realized that we were all best friends! This was when SG101 was at the Starting Gate so all of us were staying at Don’s naturally and spent some great time getting to know each other beside the pool. El Ray’s performances that year were spectacular and Fady and I went to each performance loving every minute of it. When it was all over we all promised to stay in touch.

Several months later El Firetone emailed me to say that he had an idea to make an internet based band collaborating together. I said yes, and that I had recording equipment so I sent him some chords and he sent me back a wonderful lead guitar part that really blew my mind. This created a burning desire in both of us to pursue making songs and recording parts until we had something usable. The search was on for a workable way to collaborate and send recordings back and forth using the internet. It posed so many problems technically at first, however one of the largest issues was time and focus. The thing that actually getting everyone together in a room really accomplishes is to put on blinders and focus only on the music for that period of time. This was a luxury we did not have, so development was of course very slow.

Fast Forward to 2016 – El Firetone was able to get a grant to come visit me in the US so that we could work on the Album, but more importantly so we could hang out and drink some really good beers and eat at food trucks around Charlotte! We also got a chance to go up and hang out with El Mirage in Pittsboro and had an excellent time playing surf tunes together! While he was visiting we both realized that we were proud Christians (My Father is a Presbyterian Pastor and his Family has always been Christian) and so we decided on the name The A-Men for the band. At this same time the Messer Chups made their way around the US from the SG101 convention to the East Coast and when they did they stopped in Charlotte and played a show with the Aqualads, who I was playing with at the time. I got the chance to meet the drummer extra-ordinaire Boris! I was already a huge fan of Boris style and proficiency at drumming, as Fady had introduced me to Los Twang Marvels many years before. In talking to Boris he revelead to me that he had his own studio set up in Berlin and would love to collaborate on an album. Bam! We had our drummer! After this things started to come together faster, and when I say that I mean only slightly faster  We started out by doing a song for a Ventures Compilation that will hopefully be released at some point. This came together very fast as we were playing music that had already been written. It was a great learning experience in how all of the parts come in and fit together and can be assembled, however I did not know about mixing and/or mastering at this point. I had always paid for these services in the past and considered myself a complete novice.

Once we had 9 songs ready to go I reached out to see who might be able to help us financially and found that we would have to rely on ourselves. Due to lack of funds in general, but tons of access to the technology at hand, I started diving into the post-production process head first. Many nights were spent learning concepts, tweaking the music, trying new ideas with the mix. I would come up with a mix and I would send it to the guys, to friends to everyone and say “does this sound like crap?”. Quite often the answer was “YES”, so I went back and tried again. Finally after getting some really good advice from friends and experts the album started sounding the way we wanted it to. What I discovered during this process is that mixing and mastering is as much part of the sound as playing the instrument itself. It’s crucial to learn these aspects of music production and with all of the technology available today there is really no excuse to NOT learn it. It’s something the Surf Community needs to embrace so that we can once again push the boundaries of the sounds that we are creating.

Boris did a lot of touring in the past several years and we had reached our final song (The First song on the Album “The time is Near” or “Sig Naermer Tiden”, which is the only Christian Hymn we arranged for the album and dates back to around 1000 AD). I was waiting on the drum tracks for several months, however Boris’ schedule was very demanding at this time. Enter one Dane Carter from the Madeira. I knew Dane very well as we had spent many hours riding together in cars touring with the Blair Pongracic Band, and also one particular flight over Indianapolis in a 2 seater plane in which I almost lost my lunch! I asked Dane if he could do the final drum tracks and he graciously said yes and got the very inspired tracks to me in record time.

The final journey of this long story is the artwork for the album. Once again I found myself with no ability in this particular area of Album production, so after reaching out to many people in many ways to attempt to get the artwork, El Firetone was able to take a picture that my wife took in Hawaii to his friends in Denmark (they are responsible for the Rammstein artwork as well) and they created the final artwork for the album.

So when I say that this is a special album, to my knowledge this is the first album I’ve ever heard of created in this manner. If anyone is interested in the actual technology we used (All of the recordings you hear are actual guitars playing through actual amps and mic’d in the normal fashion just like we were all recording together in a real studio), just let me know and I’ll explain it to you in detail. What this album represents is the fact that music is soon going to break the physical barrier for musicians. There are already sites like Jamkazam and others where they’re attempting to allow people to play together live over the internet. Like it or not, when the internet speeds are surpassed (very soon in my opinion) these types of recordings will become commonplace. But never let it be said that the Surf Musicians weren’t right there at the forefront, just like they were 60 years ago when our favorite genre of music was first being created. Thanks for reading, and God Bless!

image

Jeremy

I heard a preview of this recently and was blown away. To me this is a transcendent work of surf music. I highly recommend all of you who appreciate surf that runs deeper than the simple trad style to check this out.

Danny Snyder

aka El Gringo Viejo of Combo Tezeta
aka Mycroft Eloi of The TomorrowMen
aka Shecky Shekels of Meshugga Beach Party

I want buns of steel. But I also want buns of cinnamon.

Thanks Danny!

Jeremy

Congrats!

Jeff(bigtikidude)

Fantastic write-up of a truly wonderful and inspiring story, Jeremy!

Like Danny, I was fortunate to hear the preview of this album, and I can honestly say I LOVE IT! In fact, love it A LOT! This is some of the best surf music I've heard in the past five years or even more! But what else would anybody expect? So much talent involved here! Some songs sound a bit El Ray-ish, some sound a bit like the Aqualads' album "Treasures", but in general this really has its own sound - and it's a sound that will appeal to the fans of bands like Los Twang! Marvels and the TomorrowMen. It's beautifully crafted surf music that is immediate and compelling, but also has a lot of depth and complexity at a closer look. For me personally this is EXACTLY how I love my surf music and I'm just thrilled that it was created by some of my very favorite people!

Congratulations to Jeremy, Jesper, Boris and Dane for accomplishing something very special. God bless the A-Men! Can't wait to get the actual CD!

Ivan
The Madeira Official Website
The Madeira on Facebook
The Blair-Pongracic Band on Facebook
The Space Cossacks on Facebook
The Madeira Channel on YouTube

This is simply one of the best albums I've heard in my entire life!

Wow! Quite a story. Sounds amazing. I'm glad that you guys persevered.

Bob

Last edited: Sep 07, 2019 15:12:46

Crafting art in such a manner is an amazing accomplishment in itself but what was accomplished is the real story. The writing, performances and production work of this record is simply fantastic. Transcending instrumental music that expands the boundaries of surf. Hats off to all involved!

The Kahuna Kings

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kahuna-Kings/459752090818447

https://thekahunakings.bandcamp.com/releases

Thanks so much Ivan, Robbie, Fritzcat, Stratdancer and BTD! It truly was a monumental amount of work, however I think every album ends up being that way. It just took us a lot more time to do it, that was the real difference. The learning experience was eye opening and really changed my concepts of the future of music production. I don't think as humans we will ever be able to replace live interaction with technology exactly, but I think it is within us to try until we get ever closer. If you can't tell, I'm a Sci-Fi fanatic Razz

Jeremy

Last edited: Sep 08, 2019 22:00:32

Very cool sound, i really like it!!!

Check it out my music:
Por favor dale like y suscríbete, añademe a tus redes sociales y también puedes adquirir mi música dando click acá;
http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1132569167?ls=1&app=itunes
https://play.spotify.com/album/4bytLC19pLgecnMd89bBfj
https://soundcloud.com/soadtrading
https://twitter.com/sysmalakian
https://www.facebook.com/systemdp
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sys-Malakian-Twin-Official/187437384621789
http://instagram.com/systagger
http://sysmalakiantwin.bandcamp.com/
https://play.google.com/store/music/album/Sys_Malakian_Drifting_With_the_Tide?id=Bmeuld65t2b4benbdypyjjftisu&hl=es
http://www.reverbnation.com/sysmalakiantwin

Damn!! Jeremy strikes again!
Great stuff!!!

Paul
Atomic Mosquitos
Bug music for bug people is here!
Killers from Space

Ha! Thanks Paul and Sysmalakian!

Jeremy

What a collaboration! Awesome talent. Jeremy, I'm sure there are many here who are interested in the technology you used and the process detail you mentioned. If you have time, give us the basics.

We have come to realize over the years, surf music is much more than just the genre. It's like this secret worldwide music brother/sister-hood... with a whole lotta soul.

Shoot the Pier
Shoot The Pier on Facebook
We are on Instagram under "@shootthepiersurfband"
My Art

Very good! Smile

Thanks WFOGuy! And Surfer Bill - VERY TRUE! I feel the same way. The Surf Community is just simply the most supportive inviting community of musicians I've ever met.

As for the technology used for the creation of this album, I'll go into some detail here and just hit the highlights. In recording the album treasures with the Aqualads, Rick Miller employed what he called a "Re-Amper". At the time this was new technology to me and I was very fascinated. I was very excited to find that I too could own a re-amper for a mere $100. What this box does is take a line level signal and reduces the gain (and other technical aspects of the signal) to match the unamplified signal coming directly from your guitar pickups. What this means is that you can record directly into the computer with your guitar, say with amp simulation to make sure you get a good feel, then take all of the signal processing off so you just have the original sound of your guitar, and play it back out through the re-amper plugged into an amplifier. At this point you can play your part through the recording software and really tweak the amp/reverb/effects and also play with Microphone placement etc, until you get just the sound you want. Then you can record this as though it were a live performance. This is actually quite similar to the first reverb employed in recorded music and in particular as employed by Duane Eddy, Lee Hazelwood and Jack Miller in Arizona. They would record the guitar, then play it back out through a loudspeaker and record the room (Tank) in order to get that good reverb sound (They called it Echo). They weren't the first to do it, but they were the first to get that "sound".

With the A-Men, song development was by far the most challenging aspect of working in this fashion. Many songs are written "in the heat of the moment" etc and especially from a jamming scenario at times. We did not have this luxury so we had to establish ground rules from the start. The first thing is that everything had to be recorded to a click track. Some tempos changed over time, and this always caused a dramatic amount of work as everything had to be redone, etc. However we found that using the same DAW software and initially the same recording interface really helped simplify. We decided on using Logic Pro X, as we both had Macbooks for recording at the time. Once that was established I happened to find www.splice.com which was in it's infancy, however this website offered to sync up our projects over the internet and store all of our revisions. This was perfect, so that if I made any changes or Firetone made any changes we could always go back and have the originals. Well the learning curve for this software ended up being mighty high and we ran into LOTS of issues. however we did find our groove with the process and really started being able to collaborate once we ironed out the kinks. I'd say this field does require at least one person to be pretty tech savvy. Though it is getting more and more simple every day.

With my new band the Manakooras we are using www.bandlab.com, I would have to say that Bandlabs effort to create a web browser recording software is the most audacious yet(and their free customer service is absolutely amazing). If this were to start working properly this would be cross-platform(MAC/PC/Linux) and super simple to use. The issues I've seen with it so far is that it is very spotty playback, latency and Sync, etc. However they offer Cakewalk recording software with integration into their website recordings for free, unlimited free storage for revisions (and this revisioning actually works!). There are also other sites/programs out there that do similar things, but at this point my favorite is BandLab. I need to try and get sponsored from them Smile

Anyway that's really just touching the surface of the effort technologically. If you want more details let me know! Thanks for listenin!

Jeremy

When will we hear new songs from the band's unreleased album The Aqualads? I watched the video on the official facebook site about 50 times .... I really look forward to this release ... Yes

Hey Daimonlog, I ended up leaving the Aqualads about a year ago. At the time we had around 5 or 6 new songs, however I had written several of these so I'm not sure if they'll continue on with them or will write new stuff. My new band is called "Invaders from the Deep" and I'm hoping to have some new songs out by the end of the year!

Jeremy

Hi Jeremy, thanks for the reply. And where can We listen to these 5 or 6 new songs? Melody on the video still excites the imagination. It seems to me that the tremolo effect is used there not on one string, as in most surf melodies modeled on Dick Dale, but on several. That is why I probably love Aqualads. I'm very interested. Smile

You can get in touch with them here:

https://www.facebook.com/aqualads/

Jeremy

Beautiful story and a great album, really love it!
Thank you for sharing and I hope you will go on with it!

Waikiki Makaki surf-rock band from Ukraine

https://www.facebook.com/waikikimakaki/
https://soundcloud.com/waikiki-makaki

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