So, I have been an aspiring rock star, guitar teacher, stay at home Dad and recording engineer for quite some time. Like any musician I have heros and influences, but I discovered a long time ago I have a unique musical vision. Dark Roast is mostly me, but includes everyone else who contributed their own notes to the overall flavor. My own taste in music runs the gamut of genres - my first concert was John Denver (with the Starland Vocal Band who had managed to create a hit single about the joys of sex in the afternoon), but other historical faves include Suicidal Tendencies, The Police, Mastodon, Primus, Alice In Chains, Dada, Joe Satriani, The Grateful Dead, Bad Religion, Rush and The Cars. I also love the local Columbus scene; it’s been great since I moved here in the era of Rob Brumfiel and The Dogz and right now it seems particularly pungent(too many bands to mention here). The above list of bands, by the way, will tell you very little about what this album, Bystander Effect, sounds like.

    The record is a bit of a miracle. Here's the story.

    A very long time ago there was a band named Headroom that, although wildly creative and virtuosic, broke up when the drummer and bass player decided to form a cover band to make money. When this happened I began cataloguing new riffs as they came to me, planning to form a new band.

    Having made several budget recordings throughout the decades, at about that time I started investing in some sweet recording gear and recording some friends' bands.

    I got a call from my friend Jim Fultz (with whom I played in a few bands in the 90s and who, in a fit of the putting away of childish things inspired by his thirtieth birthday had quit playing drums), who told me he had just bought a new drum kit and asked if I'd be interested in recording him. I said sure and sent him a semi organized collection of guitar riffs arranged in the shape of songs for him to learn.

    After a few weeks he drove from Cleveland and gifted me with the foundation for this record. I planned on collaborating with a singer and bass player, but when it began to look like it wasn't going to happen, I began writing vocal parts.

    Meanwhile I started recording bands for money and chipping away at the recording of my own record when I had time.

    A year or two later I was playing in a cover band and asked the drummer, Sam Dapore-Schwartz, if he'd be interested in playing on my record, as there were a couple of great songs I wrote during the Headroom era that had never been recorded which I wanted to include. Those are Life And Death and The Test. He was down for it and totally delivered.

    More years passed and eventually I began bugging my friend Buzz Crisafulli (current Shadowbox Live bass player) about playing bass on my record. He finally gave in and contributed 2 and 2/3rds great tracks before running out of time. Or perhaps he just wanted to play on his favorites. He does always have multiple projects happening.

    After that I borrowed a bass from Harold LaRue (my eventual mastering engineer) and began recording the rest of the bass parts. Then, when I decided to start mixing I realized Buzz's bass sounded WAY better than mine. So I bought a Modulus 5 string (similar to Buzz's) and over a period of a couple of years replaced all my bass parts. I recorded most of the vocals in the same period. The Beer Barrel Polka was also done at that point.

    Beer Barrel Polka/Pennsylvania Polka is yet another long story. My father used to visit Columbus once every summer. At one point during one of his visits we were at Spagios, and the amazing Dave Powers happened to be playing. My Dad tipped him and requested Beer Barrel Polka. He had always found it to be a mood lifter; it's difficult to be sad when it's playing. Dave not only banged it out, but every year thereafter we would go hear Dave play, when he saw my Dad, the next song would be the Polkas (Beer Barrel was always segued to Pennsylvania.)

    At some point after my Dad died one of my clients needed to hire a piano player, so I suggested we use Dave. At the end of that session Dave asked if I wanted him to record the polkas for my use. He banged it out in 5 minutes. Going forward I had Jim play drums on it and Julie Johnson did some background vocals. It has my stamp on it; I believe we have achieved a psychedelic polka recording. Not only does it sound really cool, but it serves as a small but significant monument to my Dad.

    Throughout this huge swath of time I was making records with Columbus bands and becoming a better engineer with each project. Also, my kids were busy growing up and indulging in their own artistic exploits.

    Aaron was acting in Imaginating Dramatics (in Grandview) from somewhere around age 7 to 12, and he kept getting lead roles in musicals then and later throughout high school. He has a stunning flair for both singing and acting. Louis began playing the pots and pans soon after he learned to walk, then his toy drum kit, then a cheap garage sale kit. They actually played in a band together in middle school, performing at the school talent shows both years with Aaron singing and playing bass. About a year and a half ago, Louis spent his own money to acquire a very nice kit. Trust me, this is relevant.

    Given the way this record was developing, it eventually occurred to me it would be great to have Aaron’s voice on it, and he was about 15 when I recorded him singing some spectacular background vocals in The Test. He also did a bit in The Price as well. There would have been much more, but he was super busy thereafter.

    Two years ago I thought I was finally done, but realized I had one of my boys singing background vocals, but the other who had been playing drums all his life was not featured anywhere. I thought I'd just tack on an intro or an outro, but instead ended up taking a riff I'd come up with that had made me feel better during a particularly rocky moment (which I shouldn't expand upon, other than to say I shared it with Louis and it was very difficult), and expanded it into a long elaborate song - one of my favorites. I recorded all my parts then had Louis come up with his part. I cannot overstate how proud of his performance I am. The song is called Wit's End.

    One other song (Unholy) was actually taken from a Headroom recording session in 2006 the results of which were never released. Mike Collier played the bass and Doug Mong played drums. It's a great example of what we were doing, and yet another of my favorite songs.

    Linda Dactyl is a keyboard player I met when I joined The Quixotics for a brief moment in 1994. She totally blew my mind. I had one song which had even more instrumental sections than the rest and I thought it would be cool to have Linda play B3 on it. The song is The Tide.

    Michael Hodges (who played bass and sang with Jim Fultz and I) gave me some fantastic background vocals in Life & Death and the bridge of The Test.

    In the original drum session, Jim improvised a little solo after the Moment Of Doubt ended. I really wanted to use it, so I built another section around it. It’s even more dark and weird than the rest of the record. I used some of Fred Swan’s voice over demo reel to great effect; he was the brains behind the Quixotics and a great friend. He also produced the video for Life And Death with the help of videographer/editor and very good friend Christopher Ingram - who also designed this web site!

    Also, for this bizarre little montage I asked Nerd Table singer Adam Casto to add his 2 cents, but he gave more like a hundred bucks worth. In many ways the whole section was inspired by Nerd Table’s Noise Of Earth (NOE) series; I imagine I wouldn’t have pulled that off without having first recorded and mixed NOE 3, 4 and 5. Adam also gave me something Rodleen Getsic originally recorded for NOE 5 that wasn’t used; I’ve never heard anyone say “fuck you” with such beauty and poignancy. Adam also did the cd artwork.