Guest blogger Jonathan Andrew: the inside scoop on Someday Sessions, the new album by Joshua Van Ness & MOR
I am proud to announce the upcoming release of Someday Sessions, the new album by Joshua Van Ness & MOR.
A little backstory: the band was convened by songwriter/vocalist/guitarist Joshua Van Ness to back him up at the release show for his first solo album, DNA, in fall 2008. He called in his former bandmate from Souls’ Release (your dashing author) to play bass guitar. Eric Blankenship, a lifelong friend and long-ago bandmate of Joshua, took on lead guitar duties. And Joe Beninati, whom Joshua had met on the music scene years earlier and crossed paths with time and time again, manned the drum kit.
Much to our surprise, this one-off band had great chemistry and ended up performing together regularly over the ensuing 5+ years. I’ve spent my nights and weekends playing rock music for the better part of two decades, and performing with this group of guys has been one of the clear-cut highlights for me.
At some point, we casually named ourselves the Men of Rock (shortened to MOR) after Eric addressed an email with this offhand greeting. With the addition of saxophonist/percussionist Ralph Capasso in 2011 and John Van Ness (Joshua’s brother) on keyboards and guitar in 2013, the present lineup was complete. Various members of MOR had appeared on different tracks on Joshua’s two previous solo albums (both produced by John), but this year marked the first time we set out to record as a band.
Performing live is my favorite aspect of being a musician. Nothing beats locking into a groove with your fellow musicians and feeling the energy build and build, playing off the audience and each other to take the music higher and higher. MOR is first and foremost a live act, so when the time came for us to enter the studio, we decided to try to capture our live sound and feel to the best of our ability.
With John behind the board again as producer/engineer, Joe, Eric, Joshua, and I performed the basic instrumental tracks together in real time in our basement studio. Our hope was that we would capture the magic of playing off each other and creating music in the moment, like during our live shows.
The song that I think best demonstrates our live-band-in-the-studio approach is funky rocker “Twenty in Two.” In fact, it was the first track we completed on the first day of recording, and it set the tone for the rest of the album. Once we heard the playback of this take, we were convinced that the live-tracking approach was the way to go.
After the bulk of the album had been recorded in this fashion, we filled out the tracklisting with a few songs that we built piece-by-piece at individual recording sessions. Finally, we recorded the vocals, John and Ralph’s instrumental contributions, and other overdubs to complete the album. I can truly say that I have never had as much fun recording as I did this winter and spring when we were working on Someday Sessions.
The release party for Someday Sessions is taking place this coming Saturday, 8/2, at the legendary Bitter End on Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. We’ll be playing a set heavy on songs from the album, and will have copies of the CD for sale. Our set begins at 9 PM. We are all extremely proud of this record and hope that it reaches the ears and hearts of many people as possible.