Vince Ratti

Music Monday: “We’re Gone”

1045 Shawn GR 600Sometimes all you get is a fragment – a small glimpse of what your great new song could be.  Maybe you get a melody or two; maybe a couple lines you think you could do something with.   If you have a little luck going, you get both.

I’ve learned to try to capture these little bursts of inspiration when they happen, because you might not remember that riff the next time you pick up the guitar.  And even when you jot down some lyrics, you can’t always get back the vocal melody that made you think you had something in the first place.

That’s how it started with “We’re Gone”: I only had a few short seconds of song at first, but it felt good.  I knew right away that I wanted to flush out these ideas and have it on our sophomore album, Right Now.

By August of 2011, I was close to having the full fledged song, but back in January of 2011, this demo fragment was all I had to go on:

Rough around the edges, but there’s something cool about it, right?

Flash forward to February 2012, and I’m in the studio with drummer Dan Pavlovich and producer Vincent Ratti recording “We’re Gone” for real, as part of the Right Now sessions.   With additional help from guitarist Kevin Brown, and guest vocalists Alison Cloud and Shawn Gamble, we had our song.  I hope you enjoy the finished “We’re Gone”!

Shawn

Get “We’re Gone” on iTunes or Amazon.

 

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Music Monday: “Tell Rachel I’m Sorry”

Get “Tell Rachel I’m Sorry” on iTunes or Amazon.

Though drummer John Collier and I had collaborated initially on an EP that pre-dates The Kiera Plan, in truth “Tell Rachel I’m Sorry” was the first Kiera Plan song.  John and I had so enjoyed our first collaboration, which we’d initially thought might be just for that EP, that we decided to press forward together and make an album.  We decided to call ourselves The Kiera Plan, and that album would be 2009’s Dedication.

We first hit the studio in 2006 and recorded a single track with producer Vince Ratti.  It was our first as The Kiera Plan, it definitely set the tone for the album it started, and it was called “Tell Rachel I’m Sorry.”

That single version may only have appeared on our MySpace page – remember MySpace?!  But a polished up version 2.0 appeared on Dedication, and with it came this montage clip to celebrate:

It was filmed at a 2009 show with The Kiera Plan, Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer, and The Pink Spiders – a show that remains a highlight for me.  While the lighting was dim, the fun factor was high, Philly was dancing, and two of my favorite people – Chris and Steve Mocey – make an early cameo in the video!

Joining me in The Kiera Plan line-up at the show was Greg Park on bass (and getting down), Tim Balch on the drums, and incredible guitarist Jessica Stefanov.  Greg and Jess joined me for a number of great shows that year, including the first-ever Kiera Plan performance on Radio 104.5!

I hope you enjoy the clip, and the song!

Shawn

Music Monday: “It Only Takes One”

Get “It Only Takes One” on iTunes or Amazon.

Short and sweet – that was the goal here.  When drummer John Collier and I put together “It Only Takes One” we were hoping to deliver a full song worth of energy in something like half the time.  At 1:43, 2 verses, 3 choruses, and 1 bridge, I feel like we did it.

studio7 john  jan2008

Drummer John Collier in the studio back in Jan. 2008

Why shoot for that, right?  Take your time fellas.

The thing is, I remember hearing “Argh I’m a Pirate” by Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer, clocking in around just 2 minutes, and I couldn’t stop listening to it.  I was playing this track 3 or 4 times at a shot.  I figured there had to be something to that.


This would have been 2005, and my introduction to Zolof.  So, by the time John and I were ready to hit the studio to start making the first Kiera Plan record,  I was a huge Zolof fan.  So, to get to record with Vince Ratti, guitarist from Zolof, and to have Vince and Zolof singer Rachel Minton perform with us on that first record – it was just incredible!

More on those guest appearances later.  For now, I just hope you enjoy “It Only Takes One” and that maybe you listen to it 3 or 4 times at a shot.

🙂

Shawn

 

Music Monday: “Starting Over Today”

Get “Starting Over Today” on iTunes or Amazon.

“Starting Over” seemed thematically appropriate to kick off the  New Year and all of our resolutions to strive for a better life this year.

There are a couple people who continue to make this song really special for me.  One of those people is Dan Pawlovich.

Dan Studio Crop

 

You might know Dan as the drummer for Valencia on their last record, or from his group Mosey.  Most recently, you would have seen him on tour drumming for Panic at the Disco.  I felt lucky to have Dan involved in the second Kiera Plan album – he hit the studio with Vincent Ratti and me to lay down 11 tracks of amazing percussion in just 2 days!

What amazes me listening to Dan’s drum work on “Starting Over” is knowing that Dan came up with this more or less on the spot.  He had heard my demos for the full album, but we only had one practice before our recording session – and we didn’t get to “Starting Over”!

When recording day came, Dan and I sat down with Vince Ratti at the Skylight Studio, played through each song a few times, and then BAM! – the red light went on, and Dan made it happen.  I was blown away by how naturally he was able to get a feel for a song and to really bring it to life on his kit.

When you’re making a record, after you lay down all the tracks – instruments, vocals, etc. – the next phase is mixing it all together.  You start mixing when you know the recording is all done.  That’s where we were for Right Now when one afternoon  I happened to hear at work what I thought was Christina Aguilera on the radio – I was wrong.  It turned out that it was my new colleague Stephanie Brown singing live for a special event.  I couldn’t believe what a strong voice Steph had!  I didn’t want to put the new record out without her on it.  Fortunately, Steph was down to record with us.  So, we put the mix on hold, scheduled one last recording session with Steph, and the rest is on the record.  You’ll definitely know when Steph’s voice comes in on “Starting Over”!

Steph Radio Screenshot

 

I hope you enjoy it!  We’ll have another track for you next Monday, and in the meantime we’ll be live-Tweeting from the studio this Wednesday January 6th from 11am until 4pm and posting pics on our Instagram as we finish up some brand new music!

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year!

Shawn

Music Monday: “Time Flies”

Get “Time Flies” on iTunes or Amazon.

WPC Shawn singing 32313 600

 

 

So many Kiera Plan songs started out as little ideas on my acoustic guitar.  Since we started in 2006,  there have been almost as many intimate acoustic performances as there have been full-band, electric shows.  It almost surprises me then to realize that the only real acoustic recording is this version of “Time Flies” I put out back in 2011.

It came up on shuffle while I was on my way home from work a couple nights ago, and I was pleasantly surprised to realize how much I still enjoy it.  I guess some part of me didn’t expect it to hold up.  Don’t get me wrong:  I was into it at the time, but something about the stripped down simplicity of acoustic guitar and vocals – a vibe I’d loved in so many great songs by other people – made me a little nervous when applied to my own efforts.

Something I appreciate so much about producer Vince Ratti (who recorded this and everything else from TKP between 2006-2014), is that he would never let you go out in a bad way on a record.  He’s always worked so hard to make each track something special, and I hope you hear that love on this one.

I’ll have another track (with another story) for you right here next Monday.

For now, I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy New Year!

Shawn