Posts Tagged With: Lemonheads

Ryan’s 2013, detailed before it even happens

Magic8BallA friend of mine had a funny idea for “Losering” promotion — some tongue-in-cheek “predictions” for how Ryan Adams might spend 2013. So with the aid of a crystal and Magic 8 Ball, I put together a list at his behest. Alas, things fell through with the magazine that was to run them, and they never saw the light of print. But since I hate for anything to go to waste, I present them to you below. They are quite silly, yes; still, maybe not all that far removed for what our favorite Scorpio might be up to this year…

Just because Ryan Adams didn’t release an album of new material in 2012, that doesn’t mean he was musically idle. Along with putting out a crazy huge 15-disc live box set and dropping twitter hints about getting started on a new record, Adams spent time in the studio with his wife Mandy Moore, electronic superstar deadmau5, The Lemonheads, D Generation, Butch Walker and who knows who else. None of those recordings have surfaced, but all the collaborations got us to thinking about what worlds the alt-country king might be looking to conquer in 2013. Our fearless predictions:

* After Norah Jones introduces Adams to her half-sister Anoushka Shankar at the Grammy Awards, he takes up sitar and heads in a more grandiose direction, enlisting the Polyphonic Spree and Mormon Tabernacle Choir for what he describes as a “Zen concept album that will bring Twinkies back.” The project collapses when they can’t work out the logistics of Phil Spector handling production by phone from prison.

* Adams’ pal Elton John introduces him to Liza Minnelli at the Oscars, and they hit it off. With Minnelli’s encouragement, Adams is emboldened to make his Broadway debut playing her signature role – as Sally Bowles in a revival of “Cabaret.” But the show doesn’t make it out of previews.

* Inspired by his deadmau5 collaboration, Ryan puts on his DJ Reggie hat and convinces the surviving members of Run-DMC to let him join as replacement deejay for the late Jam-Master Jay. To great acclaim, Run-DRA makes its debut at the Coachella Festival. But in-fighting leads to a lineup implosion before a scheduled headlining slot at Bonnaroo.

* Declaring that he wants to take his native North Carolina’s “FIRST IN FLIGHT” license-plate motto to its logical conclusion, Adams applies to NASA with the intention of becoming a space-shuttle pilot. Upon discovering that the shuttle program ended in 2011, he puts his disappointment aside and goes to Plan B: applying for a pilot’s job at Pan Am Airlines. Um…

* While working with Cameron Crowe on a soundtrack song, Adams meets Ennio Morricone, the legendary spaghetti-western film-score composer. Discussions ensue about Morricone and Adams working together on a soundtrack to the movie version of Adams’ yet-to-be-published novel, “Bastard Diaries of Los Angeles.” The project stalls out when nobody can find Clint Eastwood’s phone number.

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Another record?…Pretty please?…

So our man Ryan has spent long stretches of the past few years out of the public eye, uncharacteristically quiet on the music front. There was the breakup of the Cardinals and his Meniere’s Disease, plus who knows what else going on behind the scenes. Ashes & Fire, released one year ago this week, broke a several-year silence — and it had me wondering what might be next, fingers crossed in cautious optimism; A&F seemed like a return to form, the best thing he’d done in eons.

Well, he’s gotten busy, all right. The last few months have brought reports of Ryan producing his wife Mandy Moore; producing and playing drums in the reunited Lemonheads; and working in the studio with Tennis, Liz Phair, Butch Walker and even electronic superstar deadmau5, among others. Which is cool and all, sure, plus the sort of headline fuel that makes the rock-media world go ’round.

Still…I have to admit that I’d rather see Ryan just bear down on another record of his own. And God knows where he’s finding the time, but it appears he might be gearing up to do just that, if his Twitter feed is to be believed. This weekend, Ryan has posted a couple of pictures suggesting that he’s in the midst of pulling together material for a new album, with tantalizing verbiage:

Work. Writing songs.

Sketching the blueprints of my new record. Only a month to go.

Two more new songs today. Damn.

Here’s hoping!

ADDENDUM (2/19/13): Complete list of Ryan’s extracurricular credits.

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Ryan Adams, Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, Mammoth Records: It all connects up

Writing and publishing “Losering” has been kind of like my own personal version of “This Is Your Life,” because it ties together so many threads from over the years. And revisiting my back pages via Ryan continues to yield up further examples of the Fundamental Interconnectedness Of All Things. Or maybe there really is only six degrees of separation between everyone on earth.

So when I moved to North Carolina in 1991, there were a handful of local labels in Chapel Hill. Most of them were glorified DIY operations started by bands to put out records by themselves and their friends. With one notable exception (more on that later), most of them didn’t last much longer than a few years.

But one Chapel Hill label that stood out back then was Mammoth Records. Where most denizens of the town’s indie-rock community talked a good game about keeping The Man at arm’s length, Mammoth clearly had the big time in mind. The label would do things like buy ads in the trade magazine Billboard, which was expensive and made little financial sense — but made a lot of sense in terms of brand-building.

In the early 1990s, Mammoth’s biggest act was the Blake Babies, a Boston guitar-pop trio fronted by rising “alternababe” star Juliana Hatfield. Mammoth founder Jay Faires would leverage having Hatfield on his roster into a distribution deal with the major label Atlantic Records (later going on to a career in film and television; curiously, his wikipedia entry makes no mention of Mammoth). Hatfield had a solid run as a solo act, but her career never took off commercially.

Back before she went solo, however, Hatfield also played bass in the early-’90s version of the Blake Babies’ Boston neighbors the Lemonheads, who earned a couple of gold records during the grunge era before dissolving in the late ’90s. Frontman Evan Dando revived the Lemonheads name again in 2005, with occasionally decent results. And now a proper Lemonheads reunion is underway with Dando, Hatfield and co-founder Ben Deily.

That leaves the group in need of a drummer, which brings us back to our friend Ryan Adams. Ryan took to Twitter last week to announce that he’s producing as well as playing drums on the new Lemonheads album, promising that it will be a return “to the punker sounds.”

One presumes this will be harder than the sharp pop of 1992’s “It’s a Shame About Ray” (still a favorite of mine from that era), or the song he did with Hatfield in 2008. But Ryan should be just the drummer for that. Back in 1991, the year I arrived in North Carolina, teenage Ryan was playing drums in a Jacksonville hardcore band called Blank Label. The group’s three-song single stands as Ryan’s first commercially released recording.

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