All songs written and produced by Cory Brown (Wingman also produced by Richard Park). Recorded in Oakland and Emeryville CA. Mixed by Jeremy Rosenblum at Studio SQ, San Francisco CA. Mastered by Mike Wells Mastering, San Francisco CA.
Cory Brown: Vocals and Guitars
James DePrato: Guitars, Ebo, Bass
Scott Brown: Bass
Phil Hodges: Drums, Percussion
Terry Lewsader: Pedal Steel
Mike Goodin: Keys
HERE'S SOME ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS I'VE BEEN ASKED ABOUT MY NEW ALBUM. CLICK ON CONTACT CORY AND SEND ME YOUR QUESTIONS AND I'LL ANSWER EM. -CORY
Q: Where does the title Days In A Life come from?
A: While I was working on the songs for the CD it hit me that I could order the tunes in a way that feels like a life playing out. Wingman as a beginning track is about possibility, a starting out point for searching, for exploring the new, pursuing dreams. Like a blank canvas, but with great possibilities. From there, what is life about? Finding yourself, falling in love, finding peace from day to day and stripping away those things that take away from peace of mind. Saturday into Her Eyes through Grass On The Highway and Lacy Ann are all about those things. The middle days, so to speak, of life. Then the final three tunes, Held In Time, Fall (written on 9/11/01 after watching the towers fall), and Thousand Winds are about endings, winding things up, letting go, the last days of life. I then decided to word it as a tribute to the Beatles, who shaped my musical ears from a young age. A Day In The Life is an important tune in music history. A song that always stops me in my tracks, no matter where or when.
Q: Who produced, mixed and mastered Days in A Life?
A: Because I wanted to take my own sweet time and get every detail how I wanted it, I decided to produce and record Days myself. So, I decided go all Elliott Smith and do it all myself and I'm glad I did cause it kept it a fun and positive process. I really enjoyed going through all the steps of recording and editing and mixing. Each song is like painting a new work of art that way. It wouldn't have been the same to have someone else produce my paintings for me. The project stayed much more personal that way for me. The final mixing was done by Jeremy Rosenblum at Studio SQ in SF. Jeremy did a great job, has a great ear, and almost seemed to be able to read my mind for what i wanted. He was great to work with. As for mastering, I had Mike Wells Mastering do that. I'm glad I was referred to Mike cause he really took care of me. Mike is very good at what he does, and the equipment he has is rather impressive. Speakers the size of door frames and an amazing analog board. It was a great experience to work with MIke. Oh, and a producing note... for Wingman my good friend Richie Park helped me produce it. He really got into it when I played a demo of it for him and he had a vision for it that really pushed it forward. We did some rearranging together and restructuring of the tune and it was a really cool process. He encouraged me to go for an epic sound with it, and that led to me playing around with it more and more and it just got to a great place.
Q: Did you sing all the vocals on Days In A Life?
A: Yes, all the background vocs are mine, and of course all the leads. I've found that recording vocals is my favorite part of recording, especially the background vocals. Harmonies are a blast, most of the background vocs on days are doubled, so I got to sing them twice. I think it sounds pretty cool that way. There are some doubled lead vocs too, like on the choruses of Saturday, Lacy Ann, and Held In Time and parts of Her Eyes and Grass and the end of In Line. I would spend hours some days just layering the vocals and then deciding what I liked best and keeping that. Some songs ended up sounding better with simple/less vocals cause that fits the mood or melody better, like Oleander Green and Thousand Winds somewhat too, and so I would add a bunch of vocals cause I wanted to, but then ended up taking some of them away cause it's just what is best for those songs. Kind of like the Rick Rubin school of thought for producing music. Say what the hell and put a bunch of stuff on and then see what sounds good after. Luckily, most of the songs on Days took well to lots of harmonies, so there are a lot of vocals on Days, and that's great cause that's the vision for it that I wanted to have.
Q: What are Wingman and Lacy Ann written about?
A: When the idea for Wingman came to me it was an idea about a guy going out for a night with his friend as a favor, to be his Wingman and help him pick up a girl he's been after. Typical wingman story, right? But in this story what if he went out as a wingman for his friend and to his lucky surprise the girl's friend he ends up with turns out to be just amazing, and they click and end up together all night and fall in love. I hadn't ever heard that story before, and I'm always interested in stories about how couples meet, so I ask people. That one's never come up. And it's never happened to me, I can tell you that. So the idea just stuck with me and I thought it would make a great kind of short story plot for a song. If anyone out there met their love this way, let me know. I'd love to hear about it. Lacy is about a girl who is coming into her own, she's finding herself but realizes that in the process of finding yourself there are decisions to be made. One of the decisions is does she make it priority to be free and explore her new found world, or a priority to love and share life with the love of her life. But this love has always been there for her, was there before her coming of age. So, it just may be time for her to move on. So how does it end? It ends with the writer of the story deciding that if you find the right love, that love will allow you to be free, to be who you really are. So, she realizes in the end that he is that love. He pleads for her to be open to that realization, and so it becomes a fairy tale ending? We're all aloud to get sappy once in a while, aren't we? But, it has to be left open ended, and his feeling is that he better enjoy this one while he can, and prepare to be ok when it's over. Nothing is certain, and things are ever changing, especially in a life with a girl like Lacy Ann.
Q: Who is playing what on Days In A Life?
A: I played the acoustic rhythm guitar tracks and some electric guitar rhythm tracks too, and all the guitars on Fall. The lead acoustic and electric guitars are James DePrato, and most of the texturing guitar tracks are James too. On Wingman for example, there are 6 acoustic guitar tracks all together, three are me and three are James. And there are two electric guitar tracks and one is me and one is James. James also played Bass on Wingman (2 tracks actually with a bass solo kind of track at the end there), and on Oleander Green and Lacy Ann as well. My younger brother Scott Brown played bass on Saturday and Her Eyes and In Line. Phil Hodges plays all the drums and the shakers and stuff, except on In Line the tambourine on the chorus is actually me. I'll give myself credit for that here even though it's not in the liner notes of the cd. (My tambourine skills are mad sick.) Terry Lewsader plays Pedal Steel on Oleander Green and Thousand Winds. He had two tracks on Oleander and four tracks on Thousand Winds, including the one that sounds like it's a bass cello. Finally, Mike Goodin played Piano and Organ on Lacy Ann.
Q: How did you meet the musicians who played on the album?
A: Phil Hodges was the drummer in my old band 7th Direction. I always dug playing with him, and he really knows his way around the recording studio. James DePrato played with Phil in a band called Taos Hum, great band, they don’t play much anymore, but now James plays with all kinds of guys like Elliott Randall and Chuck Prophet. James is a great guitar player, has an amazing ear, creates amazing melodies, is just awesome to work with. I'm honored to have him on my cd. My brother Scott I've known forever, ha! He's actually a fantastic drummer, plays a good guitar, just an all around musician pretty much. He plays drums for a band called Holliday. You can check them out on Myspace. Terry Lewsader is an old fan of my Dad's and Morning. He got in touch with my Dad a few years back and actually helped my Dad get back into touch with his old band mates and so I've played with Terry once or twice and he's a really good player. Really talented. A good songwriter too. His cd will be out for all of us to enjoy soon I hope. Mike Goodin on keys for Lacy Ann is also an old 7th Direction bandmate. Great guy, also a good songwriter. He was in the Grasshoppers. Fun band. He may grace us all with a solo album soon too hopefully.
Q: Is that a lap steel on Oleander Green?
A: Yes. That is the great Terry Lewsader on Pedal Steel on Oleander Green and on Thousand Winds. He is a gifted player. Can make that instrument sound like lots of different things, a cello, a violin. He's got a gift, and he's a humble great guy to. Just makes it sound all the better. You should check him out and pick up his cd.
Q: What are those effects on Wingman, and then on In Line and Thousand Winds?
A: On Wingman the intro vocals are reverbed and flanged and then bounced left to right. I was going for a circular surround sound, kind of epic dream-like effect. For any of you who use Logic on your Mac, you know how fun it is to just sit for hours and mess with things like reverb and flange. So then I tried it on the acoustic guitars too. Some sounded good, some was too much. I found that if I strummed one chord and let it ring with a bunch of reverb it sounded great. That’s what the synth kind of sound on the intro and verses is. If you listen closely you can hear the strums, like an acoustic shoe dropping in a new wave psychedelic forest. Almost like the sound of a match lighting too. I love that imagery and metaphore of a flame at the striking point of its birth. I wanted it to feel like starting the cd is liking walking into an epic new wonderland. I think it sounds cool. The guitar effects at the end of In Line are James playing the Ebo. The Ebo is an electronic pulse machine that you hold with your strumming hand. It vibrates the strings as you play the chord or note and that's the sound the guitar makes. James brought that idea to me and I loved it, and then we used it on Thousand Winds too to go along with Terry's cello string Steel parts. Yes, those string parts are a Lap Steel. If you want to learn from the master, I'll put you in touch with Terry.
Q: What kind of guitars and mics did you use on Days In A Life?
A: Mostly my Taylor and as you can hear there is a lot of acoustic guitar on the CD. Some of the acoustic guitars are James too and he also used his Taylor. I used my PRS for the electric guitars. James mostly used his Tele. Mics were pretty much all Sure, NT1000, NT5, 58, 59. I think that's it. I'll have to ask Phil what we used on the drums. You know those studio drummers and all there fancy microphones. He'll talk about them all day long, if you let him.
Q: How was the album art created?
A: I wanted something that conveyed a feeling of movement of time, travel, possibility, adventure even, movement into new horizons, forward evolution. I also wanted to use the concept of night and day, the changing over from night to day really, as that is the feeling of the cd to me. It starts at night with endless possibility and ends during the day. I liked that idea because to me, being a night owl, adventure comes at night and rest comes during the day. So, a night scene on the front and the day on the back. A road to the moon rise and a road to the sunrise seemed perfect. My friend Rich helped me solidify the idea and Phil designed and created it.
Q: Who are your musical influences?
A: There are so many. For lyrics and melodies I've been really influenced by old stuff like the Beatles of course, Jon Anderson of Yes, Paul Simon, Lindsay Buckingham, and Neil Young. I love singer/songwriters like Jon Anderson who can create a lyric and a melody that go straight to a feeling without your brain messing things up by having to translate it into a thought first. That's what I love the most. Anyone who can do that well, I'll listen to over and over. Newer stuff like Elliott Smith of course, Dave Matthews, Wilco, Son Volt, Michael Penn, Patty Griffin. Then there's REM and Perry Ferrell and Smashing Pumpkins, songwriting powerhouses that really wowed and shaped me as my songwriting days were beginning. The songs on Days In A Life are inspired by all these artists, and others like Jack Johnson and Ryan Adams when he's more mellow, those guys really know how to set a mood. For harmonies, like the ones on Days, the old vocal staple bands like Fleetwood Mac, Queen, Beatles again of course, Eagles, CSN, those bands with those incredible vocalists shaped my harmonic ear as I was growing up. I also grew up listening to my Dad's music and was shaped by his melodies and vocal style and by his band Morning that had lots of harmonies and captivating mood schemes. Layers if you will. I love layered music.