Greg here from Molehill. Recording this album has been an exhausting, exciting, humbling tour de force of music making. We are busting our asses because we all know how lucky we are to have this chance. Pete the Heat (our Veteran and Captain) has been at this a long time, but in many ways we feel like this is a new band. We have a new line up, we have new songs, and now a new record.
Under the “Studio Microscope”
After years of kidding myself and thinking that I am “above” practicing with a Metronome, it turns out I’m not (insert Trevor Jones “I told you so” hereJ). I spent 4 hours last night in the studio touching up all the piano I recorded on our first weekend of tracking. When playing live, so much is forgivable. Maybe you rushed a little, you dragged a little. No one cares if the energy is up and the song is rocking. In the studio, no one is safe. No one can hide. Either you are playing the part correctly, or you aren’t. I learned a TON about my playing because of this, and ultimately I’m going to become a much better musician because of it. I’m thankful that my bandmates are so supportive of this fact. Devin (who is a sheer monster in the studio) pulled me aside and said “yo Greg man. This is where we all start. This is how we get better”. Or something of that nature. Dev is the best.
Experimenting and More!
The best part of recording is experimenting. This album is covered with all of the things we WISHED we could do live. It turns out that I am quite a gifted iPad player (we found an awesome synth App). Peter got to use dozens of different guitars and amps. Big Jones got to play on a seven thousand dollar Warwick bass. I got to live in a room for a week with 5 different vintage synthesizers and keyboards. We put in all the hard work coming up with interesting parts for the past 2 years, in the studio we got free reign to play around and enjoy the fruits of that labor. We even had two horn players come in and lay down some trumpet and trombone tracks. Why? Because sometimes you just have to get your Neil Diamond on.
I could write chapters on all of the incredible and eye opening experiences the recording process has given me. However, I’ll spare you the sentiment (actually I won’t) and leave you all with this. Molehill has been through a lot together these past few years. We have shared many highs, and many lows. This album represents more then just music. The album itself captures the spirit of these shared experiences. Happiness. Growth. Love. Loss. No matter where Molehill ends up, I can say with confidence that I have not been more proud of anything I’ve done up to this point. I can’t wait for you to hear it.
“Do not be fooled by the name. Molehill is more like a mountain. Combining elements of progressive rock with pop sensibilities and emotionally charged lyrics, this band delivers a symphonic listening experience.” - Jesse Menendez, Vocalo, 89.5FM Chicago
The first time Peter and I strapped in and felt Devin hit the groove, we knew we had something. We didn’t know if it was any good but it felt right. We met ‘the sunshine’ Greg. Since then, we’ve driven all over the country and experienced dirty motels, great people, missed exits, and the freedom of it all. It’s therapy, I really don’t know what we’d do without it.
So here we are, releasing our third set of songs. It’s just as exciting as it ever was to release music into the wild. ‘Hearts on Fire’ seems to be an appropriate song to put out there. I don’t think we’ll ever get over writing songs that feel good in large spaces. Greg came in with the searing lead synth, Peter wrote lyrics inspired by the Euromaidan, and Dev and I banged out a rhythm track. It’s simple and straight to the point, except for those lava rocks J threw into the mix...That’s the charm of writing a simple song. Some of them just come easily.
Some songs, or should I say arrangements, don’t come so easily. ‘Reverie’ started off as a three chord bridge in one of Greg’s songs. What followed was ridiculous in some ways. I think we have somewhere around 300+ emails dedicated to this song and its direction. Dozens of recorded versions later, we got to Nashville and threw a bunch of it away. Get away from your computer and interact, suddenly everything is more visceral and real. The process was worth it.
‘Old Soldier’ started in late November 2014 after I learned that my grandfather wasn’t doing so well. His reflections on his experience in WWII and remarkable life stay with me every day. It only seemed appropriate to use the last voicemail he left me during the outro. When I sent the music over to Pete and he returned the ‘option 5’ melody idea for the verse, I cried. This song is meditative to me. It combines Pete’s ethereal vocal with that West Coast hip hop beat we love so much.
I think we made something that’s honest. We hope you enjoy it.
Chicago, IL | January 2017