John Easdale of Dramarama
Listen up! For his first solo album, John Easdale has crafted a powerful, passionate piece...a searing self-portrait...a gripping, groovy gas of a record...hot, cool, fast, slow, funny, bitter and, most of all, honest.
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Following the self-inflicted demise of his old band, Dramarama (whose Modern Rock anthem, "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" still spins daily nationwide and was recently voted "#1 Song Of All Time" by listeners of the "World Famous" KROQ in LA) in 1994, John spent some time in hibernation, hanging at home and taking care of the family (John has 4 daughters, aged 3, 5, 7 and 9). After a year or so of solitude, he started fooling around with his guitars again, trying to pin down the tunes that were swimming around in his head. Rather than immediately assembling a group of musicians, John decided to try and do almost everything himself. "I'd been in a band for a long time, and when there are two guitarists standing there, it's hard to say, 'Why don't you guys just sit this one out?' Especially when they're both better guitarists than you," says Easdale, displaying his typically modest outlook. "I know there are a thousand guys within a mile of where I'm sitting right now that are better musicians than I am, technically, but I really wanted this album to have that 'lovingly handcrafted' feel to it. So even though I brought in a few other cats to help me on some things, especially with guitar solos and stuff, hopefully it still has that 'home grown' sound." Some of the other "cats" include John's "favorite drummer in the world," Mr. Clem Burke, who bashes the skins on the title track, as well as longtime musical partner Mark Englert (aka "Mr. E. Boy," as he was listed on the first few Dramarama LPs), who adds his guitar talents to three of the tracks. Of the three, two songs, "Piss Take" and "Breaking Things," were recorded live in the studio with John's new band, and the only overdubs were John's vocals. Aside from these two live band tracks, everything on the record is John, either all by himself, or with one or two other friends helping out.
After most of the recording was done (at home and on ADATs in a few choice garages and industrial parks), John took his tapes to a "real" studio for vocal overdubs and mixing. "My friend runs one of the best studios in the world, and finishing the stuff there helped take away some of the "bedroomy" sound of the recordings, without taking away the overall "one-man-band" feel. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to pay the going rate, so I snuck in on days when one of the control rooms was empty, or someone had quit early on a session. It took a lot longer that way, but it cost a hell of a lot less...in fact, I probably spent less making the whole album than it would cost to spend one day in a quality recording studio. And I didn't have to settle for a "low budget" sound."
As far as the subject matter for the songs, John has drawn heavily from personal experience. "'Breaking Things' is the direct result of a domestic squabble; the song basically sprang full-blown from my rage," John explains. "Some of the other tunes, like "(It's Been A) Couple Of Years," deal with the 'ever popular tortured artist effect,' as Todd Rundgren so aptly put it years ago." A particularly memorable 4th Of July trip to the Jersey shore was the inspiration for "13th Summer Day," and "Ecstatic" deals with the joy (and fear) that accompany parenthood.
When it came to releasing the record, Easdale went through an agonizing decision-making process. "It took me over a year just to pick up a guitar; it took a few more before I felt strong enough to try any of this stuff out on anybody." Indeed, John had rebuffed several major-label types that had come sniffing around. "I really wasn't interested in getting back into that whole scene of being signed to a label, being told which song was a single, depending on them for everything. In my old group, the best times had been when we had put our own records out; once we were signed, the fun stopped." With the help of his close friend, eggBERT Records head honcho Greg Dwinnell, Easdale has formed a new company, HARVEY* (pronounced harvey star), and this is their first release.
All in all, bright side is an album of amazing strength and versatility. From the opening strains of "Call Me Dave" (a twisted-pop lover's lament) to the fadeout at the end of "Piss Take," Easdale has delivered a modern-day miracle; a work of epic proportions in a handy, easy-to-use, portable package; perfect for daytime or nighttime listening. Oh, by the way, don't forget to turn it up LOUD!
John Easdale was the singer/songwriter for the alterna-rock pioneers DRAMARAMA...Transplanted from Jersey shore to Los Angeles in the late 80s, DRAMARAMA was quickly catapulted into the spotlight with the runaway success of Anything, Anything (I'll Give You) championed by alternative radio granddaddy KROQ 106.7/Los Angeles. Subsequent releases brought Easdale and his band even more critical raves, national airplay and numerous TV appearances (including-"Late Night with David Letterman", "The Dennis Miller Show", and "MTV's 120 Minutes") His compositions including modern rock classics like "Last Cigarette", "Haven't Got A Clue", "Work For Food", "I've Got Spice", continue to be staples for stations across the nation, while "What Are You Gonna Do (aka The Earth Day Song)" has become an anthem of sports for many environment groups. "Anything, Anything (I'll Give You)" is repeatedly voted "Best Song Of All Time" year after year by listeners of several major modern rock stations in the US and can still be heard on a daily basis in New York, Los Angeles and in virtually every city that has a so-called "alternative" outlet. After a brief respite Easdale has decided to throw caution to the wind and has come up with new songs, a new band and a new CD - Bright Side. The new line-up contains the co-founder and lead guitarist of DRAMARAMA, Mark Englert...Easdale has put together a crack outfit, it's just your basic Rock N Roll band. "Two guitars, bass, and drums...We've been playing together for a while now it's starting to feel like a group". So what does he call it? What else the John Easdale Group, "It's not an ego thing, but hey it's my car, I built the thing and I'm driving, Darn it,...So I figure I'll just take the blame!...Catch us on the road soon playing our new songs and a few "DRAMARAMA" Classic Hits...if not your friends will be telling you, what you missed."
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