Four months after the release of From The Ground Up, Jason Flom was "let go" from Warner Music Group. His departure left our future uncertain. We were totally freaked out, to say the least. But after several group huddles with management, band and label it was determined that Lava Records would hang on to us. They sent us down to Nashville, TN to begin writing our follow up studio album.
In February, 2006, we packed our bags and moved into a house funded by the record label. It was such an amazing thing to have happen. After all the worry and fear that the label would drop us, their willingness to ship us off to write our new CD seemed like a blessing.
I shipped my computer down and set it up in one of the bedroom's. Our publishing company, Warner Chappell, set Cassidy and me up on several songwriting dates. She and I literally woke up every morning, looked at our schedule, mapblasted directions to the location of that day's writing session, and headed off to write many of the songs that eventually ended up on the studio CD.
One day while Cass was in L.A. on meetings, I had a writing date of my own. Judy Stakee, our point person at Warner Chappell, really wanted us to meet and write with a guy named Jay Joyce. He produced Patty Griffin's Flaming Red and she thought he'd be a great person for me to sit with. Turns out Judy Stakee was absolutely right. Jay and I had instant chemistry. He and I wrote and demo'd a song together that day in his home studio. Of all the dates we'd been on so far, this guy was by far my favorite. His sensibility was right in line with the band's, and his home studio and production style on our writing demo got me thinking.
As soon as Cassidy got back to Nashville, I made sure we got back in to write with him. Together that day we wrote a song called Serial Killer. Aside from being totally psyched about the song itself, the demo Jay produced of it was so unbelievable. Our manager, Scooter, agreed and we put forth to the label that we'd like Jay Joyce to produce the upcoming record.
The label agreed to Jay. They just didn't agree that we had the songs to go in to make the album. We disagreed. A few weeks later we parted rather amicably from Warner Music (Lava/Atlantic), unsure of what was ahead. We knew we had written a lot of great songs during our time in Nashville (and Cass' time in L.A.), but we needed financing to get into the studio and properly make the follow up to From The Ground Up.
Fortunately our manager at the time, Scooter Weintraub, had the where with all to contact Starbucks. Starbucks had voiced all along that they wanted to be involved with our next release, and together Scooter and Starbucks put together a deal that would enable us to do just that. Only there would be NO record label involved. It was a deal made directly between us and Starbucks. They would finance the recording of our record, and in return we would hand them 50,000 copies of our creation, artwork and all. We, in essence, would act as our own record label and Starbucks would distribute it throughout it's 4,000 stores. It seemed like a dream deal. And to be quite honest, we had no other offers on the table. If we were going to make this record the way we wanted to, we had to make this situation work.
As many of you who work in corporate America know, deals can drag on. and on. and on. This deal was no exception. But Jay Joyce carved out time for us to record in January, 2007 and our window of opportunity to work with him was closing rapidly. His manager was playing hardball with us and we still didn't have money from The Bucks' to get things rolling. I recall personally making several phone calls to my management and Jay during the week between Christmas and New Year's to be sure we could start recording the first week of January. Cathy and Uncle Pam (from our management office) quarterbacked getting everybody's flights arranged, apartments rented for us to live in, cars rented for us to drive in, gear situated for us to play on the recording, etc. etc. And ultimately, our manager Scooter Weintraub figured out a way to front us a good deal of money to get down to Nashville to start recording as soon as the new year hit.
On January 4th, 2007 we touched down in Nashville, TN. We arrived at Jay Joyce's home studio, took our places, and recorded a song a day for the next three weeks. The mood was set. Candles were lit, Jay's brother Tommy cooked us the most amazing lunches and dinners, Jay's black lab Max slept in the big room through most of the sessions, American Idol auditions were on TV in the next room if you weren't tracking in the studio. Nikki Hirsch, our former product manager at Lava Records, flew down on her own for a few days to be in on the sessions and to help advise us on how to release the album. Scooter and Aunt Pam spent a few days with us to be sure the album was headed in the right direction. Scooter had a vision for the record. He felt strongly that it have a strong rhythmic pulse throughout, that a percussion player on the tracks would help give the CD an identifiable sound. Jay hired a good friend of his, Giles Reaves, to sit in on the sessions to play percussion and some keyboards. Cathy also played keyboards on a few of the tracks. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Jason, our pro tools engineer!
In the midst of recording, the actual Starbucks contract came in the mail. As is always the case, we waited and waited and waited for months on end for it, but now in order for us to get a check cut to pay for the recording we needed to sign on the dotted line immediately. We read the contract, of course. We mulled it over in the kitchen, on the front porch, even in the big room where we were recording. There were things in it we didn't LOVE. But ultimately we were being allowed to make our record. We'd figure out a way to make it work. So we thought. That day.
So, three weeks after landing in Nashville to record, and about a year after living there for several months to write the record, we were DONE! Now all we had to do was wait for mixes. Jay worked fast and by early February we started receiving songs. We were BLOWN AWAY. We were THRILLED! All of us. Scooter questioned song sequence, like any great manager should do, and we fought him. We fought each other on which songs should stay and which songs should go. We compromised. But we came to an agreement. Now we needed artwork.
Jen hooked us up with an incredibly talented photographer named Adam Wallacavage. We shuffled down to Philly and spent the day in his amazing brownstone. Jen also arranged for stylists to help clothe us for the shoot. We had hair stylists, make up artists, the whole nine yards.
And after the photoshoot we did a video shoot! Jen's extremely talented husband Marc Brodzic shot and directed a music video for Broken.
I've gotten emails and tweets from people asking me to speak about what's happening right now. I honestly don't have words. I usually have clarity within a few days. I know many of the fans are excited to have the music. I wish I could say I'm glad you do. I'm having trouble reconciling the way it was released. This wasn't just Cassidy's record. It was mine. And Cathy's. And Jen's. And Dena's. We bled for it too. Our hearts broke over it too. There were a lot of people involved who deserved a thank you. Being able to mention them in this blog makes me feel a little bit better.
I am undyingly grateful to our fans. The ones who support us, the ones who support Cass, and the ones who still support us both. Your passion and commitment to what we built together is a testament to our blood, sweat and tears. I am humbled. Truly.
Watch us recording Tales From Wonderland:
Antigone Rising's "For The Record" Episode 1
Antigone Rising's "For The Record" Episode 2
Antigone Rising's "For The Record" Episode 3
Check out the artwork and proper credits for Tales From Wonderland: