Date and Time
Saturday, May 19th, 2012 at 8:00pm
ALO is not a band that dwells in the past. They are always moving forward. Always striving to discover new ideas. Always looking to go on new adventures. Their latest adventure, Man of the World (to be released February 9, 2010 on Brushfire Records), finds the Cali collective flexing their considerable creative powers to craft their finest album yet. Recorded almost entirely live, the 11-song collection is the sound of four players who have truly found their groove together. This is ALO at their most natural, their most organic and their most pure. Man of the World is the next level for ALO.
Man of the World was engineered by the band's steady studio partner Dave Simon-Baker and produced by none other than Jack Johnson, a longtime friend and musical collaborator. The singer/songwriter/producer was a natural fit with ALO. "It felt like he joined the band for the album," drummer Dave Brogan admits. "He was very hands on. If he thought he could add something to a track, he was willing to go for it. And we were more than happy to let him." Johnson brought a new element to the group's creative process. "In a really great way, Jack shook things up for us," guitarist Lebo adds. "Most of us in the band have been playing together since we were 13 and we've fallen into patterns. Jack got us to rethink how we do things."
For the recording, the quartet packed their bags, said goodbye to their friends and families, and headed off to Johnson's home studio on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The weather was perfect, the vibe was relaxed, and the locals laid back. It was the change in scenery they all needed. "It was everything I hoped for," bassist Steve Adams acknowledges. "It was a fresh environment, a great change-up from our normal routine."
The fact that all this was happening in one of the most beautiful places on the planet definitely affected the sessions. "Hawaii feels very pure, natural, and laidback," Brogan proclaims. "That's how this record felt to make. It was smooth and fun." The place itself became transformative. "After a while you become part of Hawaii's nature, your music changes to match the landscape and the lifestyle," keyboardist Zach Gill declares. "You stop wearing shoes, you learn how to avoid the mosquitoes, you shower only to wipe off the humidity. Important things stop seeming important."
As they always have, they shared the songwriting and the vocal duties. A couple of songs - "Time and Heat" and "I Love Music" â€“ have showed up in the band's setlists sporadically over the last few years, but Man of the World is mostly completely new compositions. Though all four members came to the studio with arrangements and parts of songs fleshed out, everything got scrambled as soon as everyone was together. "There was a real workshop vibe," Lebo affirms. "Arrangements were being torn apart and put back together in ways nobody could have imagined. It was sort of a Humpty Dumpty vibe out there, but this time all the kings' horses and all the kings' men did put Humpty back together again. And he came out much better because of it."
The band had traditionally built their songs up track by track, but they abandoned that approach for a rawer, more organic, one. "In the days before digital recording and endless tracks, when musicians were confined to two or four tracks, this is how it was done," Gill explains. "Musicians had to play together at the same time and get it right. A great performance meant that everybody got it right at the same time. I've always felt that you can hear the difference in recordings made this way. You actually get to hear the sound of people in a room making something together. Not an artificial simulation. This was really amazing for all of us."
Songs that sprang out of the band's new recording approach span the sonic spectrum in classic ALO fashion. "Big Appetite" is a warm-hearted feel-good anthem that centers around a slow-burning groove with pedal steel accents, while "I Love Music" turns up a disco-fied dance track with lyrics that read like a band mantra. "The Country Electro" unravels a layered acoustic/electric jam with splatters of steel drum, wailing guitars and trading vocals, while "Man of the World" is a raw and simple, rock 'n' roll stomp. Adams is a big fan of the title track, "It rocks in a great old school way," he declares. "It's got big guitars and loud rockin' piano. It's a lot of fun."
The epic late night ballad "Suspended" is a collective favorite. "We recorded it live in one take," Brogan remembers. "It's a perfect example of how simplicity can let what's already present really come into full being." For Gill, the song is pure solace. "It's about accepting, and even finding comfort in, the natural tensions of life," he reveals. "I was sad when I recorded the vocals. Some intense things had just gone down and I was having a tough time. But the song is not a sad song, it's a homecoming, a release, a breathing out with the knowledge that in another second you will breath in again."
Collectively, the songs of Man of the World reveal the story of four friends taking an intensely personal journey together. It is the sound of a band living, creating, loving and growing together. It is the sound of ALO. "It represents where we are at right now," Adams declares. "It's a culmination of the trip so far. We couldnâ€™t have made it to this point without everything that came before it."
The band plans to make the album live up to its namesake by touring extensively around the globe, but they know Man of the World will transform into something completely new live. "We are the eternal tinkerers," Lebo declares. "There is no way that these songs will stay the same for long. I can't wait to see what these songs turn into once we get out on the road."
For more information on ALO, please visit: www.alomusic.com