About the First Album

Past Prayers is the name of my musical project that has yielded the first album I’ve put out of entirely my own material.  It contains 14 songs and clocks in at just under 40 minutes.

At the beginning of 2007, I had a few songs in line for the next Grand Champeen album and I had one song called “Floodlights” being performed by One Mississippi.  One Mississippi’s prolific songwriter, Ron Byrd, had a ton of material which left little room for much of anyone else’s songs.  Around that time I realized that I had accumulated quite a large backlog of songs and I needed to do something with them.  Jim Fredley, who I had gotten to know in one of my two stints in Milton Mapes, expressed interest in beefing up his home studio and pursuing serious recording projects.  We decided that we should join forces and make a record together.

Later on in 2007,  I recorded demos of some of these songs with both Michael Crow and Fredley.  Five out of seven of the songs from the Cansatad Demos recorded at Fredley’s were tracked for the album, four of them making the final cut.  Of the demos recorded at Crow’s, at least three made the album.  Between those sessions and the first session for Past Prayers, I made home demos of new songs or preexisting songs that were going to be on the album but had not yet been demoed.

August 27, 2008 was the first official session for Past Prayers, and on that day Conrad Choucroun came in and tracked five songs in about 6 hours.  Incredible, really.  A more detailed account of that session can be read about here.  Jim and I felt really good about the project and whether we had or not, we had already scheduled George Duron for the second drum tracking session.  This session occurred within a week of the first one.

Between my various work/musical obligations and Jim’s job as a guitar tech for a touring recording artist, the recording of this album was far from constant process.  After these first two sessions there was a significant break in which I came up with a new song that I was hot to record when Jim came back into town.  For it, we enlisted Roberto Sanchez on the skins.  Read about it here.  At this point, we had seven drum tracks upon which to overdub bass, guitar, keys, vocals and any other thing we had in mind.  So for the last few months of 2008, Jim and I ate breakfast tacos, drank coffee, and holed up in Pocket Change Studios building up these seven songs, track by track.

I was lucky enough to have five extremely talented drummers contribute their time and energy to these recordings. Each drummer played on at least two songs, and all of them delivered the goods that I knew they had on ’em. Fredley sang his ass off on almost every song and Roberto laid down great percussion on 75% of the album. Considering I played almost everything else and it took quite awhile to lay down one track at a time, it’s debatable whether of not it would have taken a whole lot less time to track as an ensemble. Everybody overdubs their parts at one point or another…

I have been hesitant to list who played what on which song but now that the thing’s done, I don’t see any harm. (While my opnion is that the songs, the music, and the performances all speak for themselves, here we go…)

Repeat the Answers: George Duron (drums), Jim Fredley (harmony vocals), Alex Livingstone (lead vocals, bass, guitars)

On Your Own: Roberto Sanchez (drums), Fredley (guitar craziness in outro), Livingstone (vocals, guitars, piano, bass)

Mighta Got Caught: Ned Stewart (drums), Sanchez (percussion), Fredley (vocals), Livingstone (vocals, bass, guitars, percussion)

Nine Years: Conrad Choucroun (drums), Fredley (harmony vocals), Sanchez (percussion), Livingstone (vocals, bass, guitars, piano)

Drop Me A Line: Choucroun (drums), Fredley (harmony vocals), Sanchez (percussion), Livingstone (lead vocals, bass, guitars)

Burnin’ Out: Tom Hudson (drums), Sanchez (percussion), Fredley (guitar), Livingstone (vocals, keys, bass, guitars)

Cashing In The Dimes: Hudson (drums), Fredley (harmony vocals), Sanchez (percussion), Livingstone (lead vocals, bass, guitars)

Flash In The Pan: Sanchez (drums), Fredley (vocals), Livingstone (vocals, guitars, bass)

Impossible To Turn Away: Sanchez (drums), Fredley (vocals), Livingstone (lead vocals, guitars, bass, organ)

Paid The Way: Choucroun (drums), Sanchez (percussion), Fredley (harmony vocals, percussion), Livingstone (lead vocals, bass, guitars, keys)

Hard Head: Choucroun (drums), Sanchez (percussion), Jenni Wieland (trumpet), Donald McDaniel (trombone), Livingstone (vocals, bass, guitars, keys)

Pining For Verona: Duron (drums), Fredley (harmony vocals), Livingstone (lead vocal, guitars, bass)

Let’s Ready To Go: Stewart (drums), Livingstone (vocals, bass, guitars)

Over Before It Started: Sanchez (drums), Fredley (harmony vocals), Jenni Weiland (french horn, trumpet), Livingstone (vocals, piano, keys, bass, guitars)