It Takes A Village...
...to raise a child, or, to make an album. Starlight was the result of a large cast of characters and we'd like to take a minute or two to single them all out.
What can we say about VTN? He worked countless hours on this album in every phase: pre-production, recording, performing, mixing, producing. He is the ninth member of TRN (read on for the eighth) and our not-so-secret weapon. I could write an entire blog post on this guy and his ridiculous talent as a musician, engineer, and producer. He is a musical brother-in-arms and his influence on this band is immeasurable.
Seth has been taking pictures of us since the very beginning (2009, very early morning, Hollywood beach, extremely hungover horn section). The shoot for the Starlight cover was late, cold, and ultimately perfect. He's a talented guy and we're honored to consider him a close friend and collaborator.
Another old friend of the band, RC came through in the clutch with a clean, sleek album design--plus a ton of random graphics for social media and the like. In his other life Rich is DJRC and we've played a ton of shows together.
As you may have read, it took us 5 years to put out a new album (oy!). Part of that delay was from experimentation with different producers and recording ideas. Chris played a part in the evolution of "Hooked." Jim and Corsale spearheaded a bunch of recording sessions at Chris' Rogers Park home studio and some of those tracks found their way onto the final version of the song.
HAYDEN ASHLEY (synths)
Jim introduced me to Hayden and basically said "Man, you should get together with him and you'll learn a lot." That was right on. Hayden laid down synth on a few different tracks and opened my eyes to a lot of great ideas for sounds on the record.
CHUCK BONTRAGER, LISA FAKO, & DOMINIC JOHNSON (strings)
We knew pretty early on that "Up All Night" wouldn't be as disco as we wanted if it didn't have a killer string arrangement. VTN and I got to work (with an assist from J. Kriv on suggestions for the best program for writing string parts). I knew Chuck from his work on Carry Me Home and he brought Lisa and Dominic along for the session. There's nothing quite like hearing your music augmented by strings!
DEVIN THOMPSON & SARAH MARIE YOUNG (background vocals)
One thing that I got really into while writing songs for this album was composing background parts. It's like something finally clicked and all those parts based on 3rds and 5ths just made sense for the first time. I relished the chance for some real, legit SINGERS to jump all over my parts and make them shine. Vijay immediately suggested Sarah (a singer I'd long admired for her work as a solo artist and with Hood Smoke). Devin, a veteran singer on the Chicago scene and a recent signee to Severn Records, was down as well and it was on. I looked forward to the vocal session like a goddam 10-year-old anticipates Christmas morning. Devin and Sarah just killed it, laying down complex parts on 8 tunes in a single day. They are an absolutely essential part of this album.
BOB GARRETT (percussion)
Ah, Bobby G. I love this guy. Calming influence, superb chef, yoga master, and super percussionist. We go back a long way and Bob was all about jumping on the album with tambourine and congas--the groove on "That's Enough" is especially deep with his contribution.
There's a theme here--we've drawn heavily on the connections and friends that we've made over the past 8 or 9 years in making this record. Dee Adams fits nicely into that narrative. He's basically the most ridiculously talented singer we know and a close friend of ours. Dee contributed background vocals on the choruses of "Starlight" and makes that hook even sweeter.
Greg is the guy responsible for much of our visual art over the years -- all our T-shirt designs, posters, and our first two album covers were his work. This time around, we wanted to try out new eyes and minds for our artwork, but couldn't stay away from Greg's talent when it came time for the T-shirts. Always a home-run, RAM Project!
THE TRN PROMO TEAM:
These folks work diligently behind the scenes getting us shows (Brandon), on the radio (Dave), in magazines, blogs, newspapers, TV, and everywhere (Shawn & Ryan), and on TV, ads, and movies (Kristina). If you are a new fan chances are that our stellar team had something to do with it!
Back to the long ass story about how long this record took...Neil and Steve were there and played an important part. We experimented in Steve's studio with Neil at the helm on a few tunes that didn't make the cut. Neil's recording of "That's Enough" did make it on to the record, though, as did the piano he recorded in "Postcard." Neil caught some vibes so we stuck with them. Steve manned the board for several of Stef's vocal sessions.
And last but not least, the man who carries this band on his back (or in his van at least), and who makes every single show no matter where no matter when, the myth, the legend: DB, Dave Berecz. He's our unofficial eighth band member, official tour manager, and absolute family to us in every sense. Squeeby Deeby!
There it is: a partial list of folks that played a large part in the birth of our 3rd album, Starlight. There are plenty others (sub players like Chris DeRosa, Dan Kristan, Bryant Millet, and others; Beth at United Record Pressing; Spyder at URP Music Distributors; our families) that deserve at tip of the hat as well. It's pretty amazing to sit back and think about everyone outside of the seven musicians that help make this band run. So, thank you!
- Brendan (with help from Chris)