Rock veterans the BoDeans took a DIY approach to its new album, "Mr. Sad Clown," coming April 6 on 429 Records.
"If we had any theory behind it, it was something like...'Let's just do what we do,' " Kurt Neumann says of the 15-track set that he and partner Sam Llanas recorded at Neumann's home studio near Austin, Texas. "Sam's opinion was he didn't want to hire anyone else to do anything -- so that left me to do a lot of the stuff!"
The duo started work on the follow-up to 2008's "Still" about a year ago, recording about 23 songs over eight months as Llanas, who Neumann says "has a real thing against computers and technology," traveled back and forth from his home in Milwaukee. "He'd just come down and we'd chip away at it -- I'd say, 'This is what I did' and he'd say, 'I love it' or 'I hate it' and we'd move on from there," Neumann recalls. In the end they chose 15 of the tracks to be on the album and brought in horn players to add parts for two of them.
"When Sam and I first started out trying to make music, we would just kind of go into a little four-track tape studio and do whatever we could in there, just the two of us," Neumann explains. "I think there was a sense of getting back to that place on ('Mr. Sad Clown'). We'd just come up with our songs and do 'em our way, not really connected to what's trendy and what's going on."
The lyrical subjects, meanwhile, are designed to reflect two guys in their late forties, according to Neumann. "I felt like my writing now is more middle-age, kind of representative of my life," he says. "I really wanted to get that out and get it on a record as opposed to songs in the early years, when we wrote about love and hope and sex and dreams -- all from a younger perspective. This record tends to be more from that, 'been down that road a little bit longer' and looking back a little more. I look out when we play and see people...who can relate to that, I think."
The BoDeans plan to preview songs from "Mr. Sad Clown" with several appearances at this year's South By Southwest Music + Media Conference, including a March 18 Fontana/Universal label showcase and a slot opening for Cheap Trick on March 19 at Auditorium Shores. Once the album's out, Neumann says he and Llanas will be "doing the regular get on the bus and play everywhere you can type of thing," which is currently being booked.
The track listing for "Mr. Sad Clown" includes:
"Don't Fall Down
"Headed for the End of the World
"Let it Ride
"All the Blues
"Feel Lil Love
"Gone x 3