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Slot 55 / Blog

Describe the album:

Albums can be many different things. Popular artists highly anticipated new release. A live album, movie soundtrack, collection of dance music, re-mixes, or even an unknown artist’s very first attempt. Slot 55’s album “My Reflection” pretty much comes under the latter, but you have to start somewhere. If I were asked to give my best one line description of “My Reflection”, I would have to say it is a project that brings the songs, playing, and music of Phil Gorlaski to life. Having good songs is key. A good songwriter is a rare thing. (Example, and I hate to say it, but after Ronnie and Steve Gains were gone, the number of Skynyrd songs that were hits really diminished) A good songwriter, that can play his ass off, that’s even rarer. The “bringing it to life” part, that’s easier said then done, and requires an entirely different skill set. Bringing it all together, and keeping it together until there is finally a finished product is a huge job in itself. I’ll go into that in detail in another piece I plan on writing called “How to create 41 minuets of music in just three short years”. Andrew Toy played drums on all the tracks except “Free”. I played bass, and Phil and I co produced everything (with the exception of “Free” which Philly music scene icon George Manny produced and recorded in his studio Geo Sound in Philadelphia). We brought in some great players for small parts through out the album including sax, vocals, harp, cello, choir, (tried some percussion, but that’s a story for another day). Other then that, Phil played and sang everything. We built a studio. I don’t mean we bought a “recording package” from one of the huge music retailers with a mid level mic, an interface, and the latest version of Pro Tools and set it up in a basement. We (and when I say we, it was mostly Phil) researched studios, bought all the best materials, and built a pro studio in a commercial building in Langhorne PA. We equip it with some of the best recording equipment available (little footnote; every engineer has a different opinion of what exactly “the best recording equipment” is. Sorting all that out, and then getting all the pieces to work together, about a three month set back in itself! Then there’s finding the right engineer. Here’s what we where thinking though; modern recording is a pretty new thing. Fifty years, maybe? And how much of the recording that has been done was done in a hurry, because the “meter” was running? (Studio time isn’t cheap!) What if you took the time to experiment, try different things, some that work, some that don’t, how many cool new sounds and techniques could we discover? So that’s what we did. We hired a great engineer, and pretty much messed around, brought in whet ever we needed, had fun, and produced an album. I think it’s diverse, fun (a little humor can certainly be a part of entertainment in my book), showcases great songs and real talent, but most of all, just cool to listen to. And for me, it’s something I can be proud of, and something I can forever say I was a part of. As I write this, the album is in mastering. (That means the audio part is pretty much done!) We still have to work out some artwork, content, and album cover issues, then pressing the actual albums. I expect a finished product late this August. There’s 3 singles out now, and we don’t plan on releasing any other singles before the full album release. Keep an eye out for updates, and we ask just one thing; listen to the album!

A revival of the “album experience”. (part 1 of 2)

One of the things I hope to accomplish with the upcoming release of Slot 55’s first full length album is a revival of what I’m calling the “album experience”. Technology is great and all, but it has its place. The digital age has brought us some great advances, and advances are good, but I want to do my best to see that some things aren’t lost. As weird as it may seem, today, the number one place people go for new music is YouTube. Search a song title or artist, check out a lyric video or music video, and if you like it, there’s probably a link to download, stream, or buy the song. Quick, like texting, which is good in ways I guess. But when I was a kid we didn’t have texting. If I wanted to see if my friends were home, and what they were doing, I would walk or ride my bike to their house and see what was up. I’m all over the place. Back to the “album experience”. Much like we didn’t have texting or cell phones, we didn’t have YouTube, or anything even close. You would hear about an album, or a song, or a band or artist maybe at school, or on the bus, or on a concert T-shirt someone was wearing in the smoking lounge at school. (yes, just like there were no car seats or bicycle helmets back then, the high school I went to had 2 smoking lounges for the students who smoked, and even if you didn’t smoke, that’s where most of the hot girls hung out, so it was the place to be!) Shit, I’m getting off track again! Here’s the point; when you wanted to check out an album, you went to a record store! (They were stores that primarily sold records, some had concert T-shirts, and I seem to remember something about a counter with smoking accessories, but that’s all just a blur) There were 45’s (small records with one song on each side, the first side was the hit song you wanted, and the other side (hence the term “B” side) was usually a song you would never buy or hear if it wasn’t on the back of the song you wanted). From what I remember, 45’s (45 I think was the RPM’s the record had to turn on the record player, and there were 4 settings, 78, 45, 33, and for the life of me I can’t remember the last one, but it could be 16), and singles were 45’s and the hole in them was bigger then the 33’s and they required an adapter for either the record itself, or the post in the center of the record player. I think 45’s were about a dollar, but don’t hold me to that. But 45’s aren’t what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the “album”! If you had real money ($5, $6, maybe even $10 for a double), you could get the album! This could be a huge financial commitment, so sometimes it took a while to pull the trigger. (I mean, what if the album sucked, that was a lot of money) Generally you would check out the front and rear cover on the ride back home, but you wouldn’t remove the clear wrap until you were safely back in your house. Artwork and album covers were a big deal. Molly Hatchet, Boston, and ELO had some of the coolest. Zeppelin even had one that looked like a paper bag you had to rip off. All cool stuff! Next you would put the album on. This involved an arm, a needle, I think something had to drop, all pretty mechanical, but if the record dropped right, and the arm landed the needle in the right place, after a few seconds of a unique crackling noise, the first song would start! (continue to part 2)

A revival of the “album experience”. (part 2)

For me, this took place on the large “console stereo” my Dad had in the living room, by the front window, and I would listen from his white vinyl, recliner in the living room. If all went well, no one else was around so you could turn it up pretty loud. Back to the experience. The first time you hear a new song, it doesn’t always hit you. It’s new, you might have to hear it a few times before it sinks in. But that was ok, because there was really cool stuff inside the album to read while you listened. There was generally a band bio, or story about how the band came together. (for some reason Boston’s first album really stands out in my mind as far as this part) So you would read that, and check out the pictures inside the cover, or what ever while the album played through the first time. The other thing inside the album somewhere was the words to the songs. So the second time you listened to the album, you read the words as you listened to each song. I guess you sorta tried to get what the artist was saying in the song, or what the song is about, or just learn the words, or something. I used to play an album several times that first day and just take it all in. Good stuff. There’s another part to an album; it’s the order the songs are in. Have you ever heard a song on the radio, and as it’s ending, you almost expect to hear the next song on the album immediately follow it? I love that. Certain albums are beaten into my head so hard it’s crazy. I remember one summer. I’m not sure how old I was, but I wasn’t old enough to drive yet. (getting your license the day you turned 16 is a subject for a another day) That summer the hangout was the garage at my friends John and Pauls house. John had an old Dodge Dart he was restoring (for about 5 years), plus it was a corner property, so when ever a friend would cruise by, as they left, we would get them to leave a burnout, to kinda see whos car could do the best! (It was close between a ’67 Chevelle, various 442’s, and a certain ’67 GTO with a favorable mention to our friend who had several Comoro’s and Corvettes) Drifting again, shit! Back to the whole album thing. The light in Johns garage was on a switch, and we had an eight track player plugged into the light so it would come on when we turned on the light. Radio reception kinda sucked, so we used the 8-track (album 1.2) The only thing was that I think between us, we only had one 8-track. It was Zeppelin 4. That was all we listened to that whole summer. Not only do I expect to hear the correct song follow the one before it on the album, at certain spots, I expect to hear the song fade, a big “clunk”, and then a fade back into the song. So, as much as YouTube, and iTunes, downloads, streaming, and all the new stuff has given us, there are things I just don’t want to go away. I guess what I’m trying to say here is when we finally release our album “My Reflection”, (and it will be soon), besides being songs Phil has been writing and playing from the heart, some since he was 18, and my contributions, basically the result of a lifetime of experiences in music, production, big live shows, and just life in general, one of the goals is to in some way, bring back a little of what I call the “album experience”. Stay tuned!

What’s in a name?

Where does a name like Slot 55 come from? Good question. I read somewhere that Aerosmith was something one of the members used to write on the back of his notebook in high school. He thought “that’s a great name for a band”. The rest is history. When the members of Marshall Tucker needed a name, they looked on the key chain to their band room, and it said Marshall Tucker (likely a prior tenant of the room), and Leonard Skinner was the gym teacher of several of the founding members of the band that became known as Lynyrd Skynyrd. Much in the same way, our story goes like this;

Slot 55′s bassplayer and his his wife are members of a club called Penn Werner. It’s a club with 3 lakes where members can camp, fish, boat, etc. Each year the club mails out new membership cards. One year, when the cards came, Richs’ wife Lisa asked “why does my card say slut 55″? Sure enough, on the back of the card, hand written in permanent marker, the card seemed to say slut 55. Turns out, what is said was slot 55, which is the slot Rich was assigned in the dry boat storage area to park his bass boat. That aside, slut 55 sounded like a great name for a band.

Turns out, if you google slut 55 it seems like it could go all wrong, so to play it safe, the band went with Slot 55. The official logo will still be the hand written “slut 55″ on the actual membership card, and we’ll have lots of fun with it I’m sure. But, what ever you were thinking the deep meaning was, that’s it!

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