If the new "Americana," with its renditions of folks standards, isn't exactly what you expected from Neil Young first new album with Crazy Horse in nine years, then stick around. Something more familiar is on the way.
Guitarist Frank "Poncho" Sampedro tells Billboard.com that after Young and company wrapped "Americana," "Neil just started playing a couple chords and jammed. I think we played for about 30 minutes, a whole bunch of stuff... And we've been recording since then." The upshot, Sampedro says, is that "we have another record coming out behind it, and that one is more like a 'real' Crazy Horse album. It's Neil's songs -- that's the major thing lacking on 'Americana,' right?"
The album is expected in the fall, but no release date or title have been announced. Sampedro, who resides in Hawaii, says he's been back and forth to Young's ranch and studio for more sessions when the moon is full, which is Young's preferred time to record. "We'll work five or six, seven days, then I'll just fly home," he explains, with Young, drummer Ralph Molina and bassist Billy Talbot handling "production stuff" between sessions. "Every time when I go back to work some more, everybody says, 'Everything sounds great. This sounds fantastic,' so we really seem to be onto something," Sampedro reports.
New Crazy Horse
The guitarist -- who spent 18 years working for NBC's "Tonight" show and as former bandleader Kevin Eubanks' assistant between Crazy Horse stints -- acknowledges that he was surprised and initially "a little disappointed" when Young pulled out songs such as "Tom Dula," "Clementine" and "Oh Susannah" for the "Americana" sessions, as well as the Silhouettes' "Get a Job," which he felt "was a stretch" for the Crazy Horse. "At first it didn't really go down that well," Sampedro says of the "Americana" songs. "I wasn't bummed or anything. I just thought, 'Here we are playing. He'll pull out some of his songs or some other songs,' and the next time we came it was more folk songs and then the next time it was more folk songs... for about five or six months in a row."
Ultimately, however, Sampedro feels that Young and the group turned the selections into Crazy Horse material. "I was jumping up and down and screaming and singing parts that I probably shouldn't be singing and just having a good time -- which is what we do," he says. "In my mind there's a little part of me that knows it's not Neil and it's not us. It's something else. But at the same time, when I listen to it, I like it."
Young and Crazy Horse celebrate "Americana's" launch on tonight [June 8] with a show at New York's Kaufmann Concert Hall. The group has a pair of shows Aug. 5-6 at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver and begins touring in earnest on Oct. 3 in Windsor, Ontario, with an Oct. 13 stop at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.