Blues Traveler Kicks Out The Jams On New Disc
Blues Traveler tapped into its live performance ethic in writing the songs for its new album, "North Hollywood Shootout," due Aug. 26 on Verve Forecast.Blues Traveler tapped into its live performance ethic in writing the songs for its new album, "North Hollywood Shootout," due Aug. 26 on Verve Forecast.
Guitarist Chan Kinchla explains to Billboard.com that "when we play live, we get a lot of these great grooves and things going when we do jams in the songs and in-between songs -- happy accidents and stuff like that. We felt like that hasn't really been represented on record, so we decided to spend a lot of time just doing free-form jamming and finding parts we liked and using them to build songs around."
Blues Traveler started working on "North Hollywood Shootout," the quintet's 10th studio album, in February 2007 in Austin, Texas, a session Kinchla says yielded about three of the album's 11 songs. The group was then waylayed by touring and recording its "Cover Yourself" set of acoustic versions of its previous material. It reconvened earlier this year with producer David Bianco at his studio in North Hollywood, Calif., which also gave the album its title.
"We really didn't want to come in with a lot of preconceived notions of what we were gonna do," Kinchla says. "We wanted to catch the feeling we had on the tour. We'd jam for 30 or 40 minutes, just to find five seconds of something good and we'd build a song on top of that. It got us out of our comfort zone, which is good to do sometimes."
The song flow on "North Hollywood Shootout" ranges from the melodic "Orange in the Sun" and "Love Does" to the grooving "You, Me and Everything" -- which Kinchla calls the likely first single -- rockers like "How You Remember" and "The Beacon," and the quiet, bittersweet "Borrowed Time." The strangest track is the closing piece, "Free Willis, Ruminations From Behind Uncle Bob's Machine Shop," a six-minute "collage" that features free-form spoken word by actor Bruce Willis.
Kinchla says Blues Traveler has been playing about a half-dozen of the new songs on the road. "They kick ass live, which makes us happy," the guitarist notes. "I think they come off on stage because the seeds of inspiration were live jams, so they're easy to play live."
Blues Traveler is playing its own dates and also shows with Live and Collective Soul this summer. A full-scale headlining tour is expected to follow the album's release.