Dangling From A Rope

by Big Monti Amundson

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about

For A Preview of the Record -> ow.ly/rucG6

Over the years I’ve written a lot of songs. Some of those songs make their way onto albums while others, for any number of reasons, end up in a notebook, filed away for future reference. Then one day you’re playing guitar, working on something new and a song just seems to fall out of the sky. Like you had nothing to do with it at all. You realize that this song is special. It requires a place to exist. For me that place is on an album. That song is “Dangling From A Rope” and it signaled the beginning of an intensely creative period.

So I started digging around in the tape vaults and file folders. Once I’ve decided to make an album, this is where I always start. As I go through my immense cassette collection I am amazed at the number of ideas and half written songs. Riff’s and progressions left for future interpretation. The central ideas are there, so like a novelist, it becomes a process of revision. It’s simple enough: you write, compose and revise. Repeat as necessary. For weeks I don’t answer emails or return calls. Days go by where I don’t see the sun. It can be an exhausting but ultimately rewarding time.

As the songs start taking shape I record them on my old cassette 4-trac. I know, really? I have Cubase and GarageBand on my computer but I am at home on my trusty 4-trac. I manipulate the controls as easily as I slam through the gears of my old ’67 Chevelle! No wasted motion! Zero to sixty in seconds! I rarely need to bounce tracks. Drum machine on 1, bass on 2, guitar on 3 and vocals on 4. I demo up fifteen or sixteen songs and I’m ready for the studio.

I record an album in stages. The basic tracks I recorded at Jeff Tunnell's Furrer Farm Studios in Creswell, Oregon with musician and business partner, Kelly Asay at the board. For drums, I called on old friend and band mate, Cory Burden, and on bass, one of my favorite studio musicians, Johnny Wilmont. At the end of three days I leave the studio with rough mixes. I purposely don’t listen to these tracks for a week or so. When I finally give them a listen, my ears are fresh and I immediately know what needs to be done. Some parts could be better executed. Some vocals could be better phrased. Inevitably, some songs just don’t work. It might be that they don’t fit with the rest of the album or that it just isn’t a very good performance. Fifteen songs shrink to twelve on the first cut. Three more days in the studio for fixes and overdubs and then it’s home again with new rough mixes.

Again, I don’t listen to the songs for a week and when I do, twelve songs shrink to ten. Now it’s time to mix. For this part of the project I booked Gung Ho Studios in Eugene, Oregon. I’ve worked with engineer Billy Barnett on several albums, including “Lightning Strikes” by The Sultans of Slide and “Straight Out!” by the Blubinos. While mixing the song “Dangling From A Rope,” the albums strongest track, it’s apparent that the rhythm track could be better. I call up an old band mate, John Mazzocco to redo the bass part and he suggests drummer Reinhardt Melz. Sometimes you need a fresh take on a song when it isn’t working and John suggested a slightly different approach. John And Reinhardt listen to the track a couple of times and nail it on the first take. Everyone in the control room is blown away! Now we’re ready to mix!

Mixing is hard work and you have to know when to quit for the day. At some point everything starts to sound the same and anything you do after that will almost certainly be a mistake. Whereas I can record for ten to twelve hours straight, I can only mix for seven or eight hours before I’m toast. After a week of mixing, I have heard these ten songs so many times that I couldn’t tell you if it was my best work or if it was crap. I’m exhausted! I do not want to hear these songs again for as long as I live - or at least a couple of weeks! When I finally do give the album a listen I am pleased with the results. Even so, there’s always a song or two that needs to be remixed. In fact, there are three songs that need tweaking. So I schedule another couple of days in the studio and after said tweaking, I’m pretty sure the album is finished. Two days later I listen again to the album in its entirety. I like it a lot!

Mastering is the last step in the recording process. A lot of people skip this step because it’s expensive. Some songs need more bass. Some songs seem a little muddy. Mastering is the process where everything is brought into balance. Mastering is why, when you listen to an album, you don’t have to change the EQ from song to song. You might have a mastering app on your computer and be tempted to do it yourself. But you’d be making a mistake. Spend the money. At the very least you need a new set of ears. My guy for mastering is Ryan Foster from Portland, Oregon. He’s got incredible ears and has given a sonic quality to every album he’s mastered.

With finished album in hand I set about to listen to it on every stereo that I can find. I have three at home: the living room stereo, the home studio stereo and the blaster. I listen to it on a friend’s car stereo and the house stereo at a club I play. I’m satisfied that the album sounds great on everything I play it on. I pronounce the album finished!

The further away I get from the process of recording the more I like the albums I’ve made. In the process of recording I’ve heard this album, “Dangling From A Rope” so many times it’s hard to have any kind of perspective. That’s where you come in. These songs are new to you. You have fresh ears. I hope you enjoy listening to this album as much as we enjoyed making it. Here it is, warts and all. Rock n roll!

- Big Monti

credits

released February 1, 2014

Recorded at Furrer Farm Studios in Creswell, OR by Kelly Asay and Gung Ho Studios in Eugene, OR by Billy Barnett
Mixed at Gung Ho Studios by Billy Barnett
Mastered at Ryan Foster Mastering in Portland, OR

Produced by Monti Amundson, Kelly Asay, Billy Barnett and Christian Selleron
Executive Producers, Heather Killough and Christian Selleron

Photos and promotional videos by Jim Dorothy www.imagesjdphotography.com
Promotional videos produced and edited by Kelly Asay
Video shot by Jim Dorothy on location at The Lehrer Pub in Portland, OR

Musicians:

Monti Amundson, guitars and vocals
Cory Burden, drums
Johnny Wilmont, bass
Reinhardt Meltz, drums on “Dangling From A Rope”
John Mazzocco, bass on “Dangling From A Rope”
Amy Danziger, cello on “Dangling From A Rope”
Henry Cooper and Franck Goldwasser, guitars on “Stupid Trouble”
Percussion, Billy Barnett
Hand claps by Kelly Asay, Billy Barnett and Christian Selleron

Special thanks to Yvonne Richardson for her support above and beyond the call of duty, Heather Killough, Christian Selleron, Jeff Tunnell from Furrer Farm Studios, Brad Lehrer and Tom Thorsen from The Lehrer Pub, and the Asay clan: Cindy, Sam and Henry.

For appearance, interview or media information contact Silverback Artists silverartman@gmail.com

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Track Name: Can't Take It Anymore
Can’t Take It Anymore

My springs are sprung, I’m on overload
Got more in my head than a man can hold
I’ve reached the limit, I can’t take anymore
I’ve hit rock bottom, I’m down on the floor

I can’t take it anymore

My stomach hurts, my skin’s too tight
My eyes won’t focus, I can’t sleep at night
Never stop paying for my mistakes
Come on baby won’t you give me a break

I’m melting down, I can’t take the heat
My pockets got holes, I’m out on the street
My ozone layer got a gigantic hole
You burnin’ me down inside my soul
Track Name: Dangling From A Rope
Dangling From A Rope

The Sun’s gone black
An’ you aint coming back
This time forever
So open up the skies
No lows and no more highs
This time you’re gone forever

They said you’d lost your way
When they found you yesterday
Dangling from a rope

It always was your style
To go the extra mile
You always were so clever
Like your mother before
You chose the easy door
Now you’re gone forever

They said you’d lost your way
When they found you yesterday
Dangling from a rope
Dangling from a rope

The sun’s gone black
An’ you aint coming back
You’re gone forever
It came as no surprise
Never were good at goodbyes
Goodbye forever

They said you’d lost all hope
Didn’t even leave a note
I know you lost your way
‘cause they found you yesterday
Dangling from a rope
Track Name: High Noon
High Noon

Sun beats down without remorse
Town’s people scatter as a matter of course
My only friend is my trusted horse
An’ I aint even sure about that

Train rolls in at 10:49
You can almost hear those poor widows cryin’
It may be true that I don’t mind dyin’
But what would be the point in that

High noon, in the blink of an eye
High noon, that’s when real men die
High noon, baby that’s the facts
Don’t tell me that you love me and then turn your back

My Ten High whisky is too hot to pull
The ‘leven 49 has started to roll
Life aint nothin’ but a leisurely stroll
Down the path of matter of fact

High noon, sure is a shame
High noon, didn’t even know his name
High noon, baby that’s the facts
Tears from the living don’t bring your lover back
Tears from the living don’t bring your lover back

I heard the trouble boys done made parole
That’s okay cause I’m on a roll
An’ it may be true that I sold my soul
But that’s another story that

Whisky, wine and women along the way
Might make this job better than okay
Two hours work for two weeks pay
Don’t even have to think about that

High noon, in the blink of an eye
High noon, that’s when real men die
High noon, baby that’s the facts
Don’t tell me that you love me and then turn your back

High noon, sure is a shame
High noon, didn’t even know his name
High noon, baby that’s the facts
Tears from the living don’t bring your lover back
Tears from the living don’t bring your lover back
Track Name: Depths Of Blue
Depths Of Blue

Swore off love a long time ago
Sweet lord above how she hurt me so
Hurt me in the morning
And in the afternoon
‘cause when she gets to drinking
She goes down to the depths of blue

Until she comes home to you
She goes down to the depths of blue
Until she comes home to you
She goes down to the depths of blue

Swore off hope a long time ago
Sweet lord above how she hurt me so
Know that she don’t mean
The nasty things she say
Just get me through the night
She won’t remember anyway

Until she comes home to you
She goes down to the depths of blue
Until she comes home to you
She goes down to the depths of blue

Every night is a Saturday night
It don’t matter that she treat me right
Don’t matter that she holds all the cards
My baby takes it too hard

Swore of redemption a long time ago
Lord knows I should let her go
know that she don’t mean
The nasty things she do
Who goin’ to be there
‘til she comes comes home to you

Until she comes home to you
She goes down to the depths of blue
Until she comes home to you
She goes down to the depths of blue
Until she comes home to you
I’d do anything you ask me to
Until she comes home to you
She goes down to the depths of blue
Track Name: Motivation
Motivation

This party’s boring
Why do I linger
There’s more excitement in my
Little finger
If I’m the punch line to the joke
Of everything I do
What keeps me in the ring
What keeps me true

One thousand times I’ve cried
What is my motivation

This party’s boring
Why do I linger
There’s more commitment in my
Little finger
Every single day I must endure the same refrain
Here comes somebody now dying to explain

Don’t need someone to tell me
What is my motivation
What is my motivation
One Thousand times I’ve cried
What is my motivation
What is my motivation

This party’s boring
I cannot mingle
Cannot open up my mouth without
Being evil
If I’m the punch line to the joke
Of everything I say
What keeps me in the ring
Why not walk away

One thousand times I’ve cried
What is my motivation
What is my motivation
Don’t need someone to tell me
What is my motivation
What is my motivation
What is my motivation
What is my motivation
Track Name: Leave Me Lonely
Leave Me Lonely

I’ve aimed high, I’ve aimed low
Close my eyes, baby I don’t know
Aint no science, aint no rules
If they think I’m nice, then I think they’re cool
Before you turned my world upside down
I was content baby justa being a clown
No more, no more

Might be petite or long and tall
Talk too much or not at all
Middle age or still in school
If they think I’m fine, everything is cool
Before you turned my world upside down
I was content baby just being a clown
No more, no more

You just had to have your way
Just to drive this boy insane
And you know in the end you’re just going to leave me lonely

Night be rich, might be poor
Might be the girl at the candy store
Out on the street or finishing school
If they think I’m nice everything is cool
Before you turned my world upside down
I was content baby just being a clown
No more, no more

You just had to have your way
Just to drive this boy insane
And you know in the end you’re just going to leave me lonely

I’ve aimed high, I’ve aimed low
Close my eyes, baby I don’t know
Aint no good loving you
You know I’d do anything you ask me to
Before you turned my world upside down
I was content baby just being a clown
No more, no more

You just had to have your way
Just to drive this boy insane
And you know in the end you’re just going to leave me lonely
You just had to have your fun
Just to see me come undone
And you know in the end you’re just going to leave me lonely
Track Name: Parchman Farm
Parchman Farm

I’m sittin’ down here on Parchman Farm
I’m sittin’ down here on Parchman Farm
I’m sittin’ down here on Parchman Farm
Lord I aint never done nobody no harm

I’m loadin’ that cotton in eleven foot sacks
I’m loadin’ that cotton in eleven foot sacks
I’m loadin’ that cotton is eleven foot sacks
Got a twelve gauge shotgun at my back

I’m sittin’ down here on number nine
I’m sittin’ down here on number nine
I’m sittin’ down here on number nine
All I did was drink a little wine

I’m going to be here for the rest of my life
I’m going to be here for my natural life
I’m going to be here for the rest of my life
All I did was shoot my wife

I’m goin’ to be here on Parchman Farm
I’m goin’ to be here on Parchman Farm
Track Name: I Saw It Coming
I Saw It Coming

I saw it coming
Wasn’t no surprise
Closed down Old Taylor’s baby
Right before my eyes
Brought to mind some good friends
Dyin’ slow
Sittin’ ‘round the table baby
With their heads hung low
With their heads hung low
With their heads hung low

I saw it coming
A blind man could
Losing more than time
Down in Hollywood
Thinkin’ ‘bout my good friends
Livin’ in the past
Used to be so easy
Living life so fast
Living life so fast
Living life so fast

I saw it coming
Wasn’t no big deal
Time just keep on rollin’
Like a wagon wheel
Brought to mind some old friends
Dyin” slow
Sittin’ ‘round the table
With their heads hung low
With their heads hung low
With their heads hung low

Ah, that’s the way it is down in Hollywood
Track Name: Straight Up Rockin'
Straight Up Rockin’

I went downtown last Saturday night
I had the weekend off an’ I was feelin’ alright
I was ready to rock, I was ready to roll
Thought I’d check out a different watering hole
The band came recommended, a real must see
Got their picture on the cover of the A & E

I paid the cover charge and I made my way
Past all the super cool people that never wanna pay
Up onstage was some impressive gear
I was getting’ all excited as the time drew near
About the time I couldn’t take it no more
Bandleader shout 1 - 2 - 3 - 4

Straight up rockin’
Baby don’t you know
Straight up rockin’
Really stop the show
Straight up rockin’
Gonna lose my mind
I’m gonna rock n roll until I die
‘til I die

They was a 3-piece band with an upright bass
The guitar man was all over the place
He had his hair greased back an’ it was comin’ undone
Man, I can’t remember having this much fun
A six-foot woman whispered in my ear
Come on baby let’s get outta here

She bought me a beer and a double shot
I knew right then we was gonna be hot
They turned the house lights on baby don’t you know
It was half past two and it was time to go
The band was gone, man they was out the door
But we called for an encore and they played one more
Track Name: Stupid Trouble
She’s Stupid Trouble

She’s trouble, the kind that come along
Weren’t doing nothing, just watering the lawn
She’ll latch onto your leg and never let go
She’ll bring you trouble baby don’t you know
She’s stupid trouble, I can’t take much more
Am I capable of murder, I can’t say for sure

She’s stupid trouble everywhere she goes
She’s got rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She wears designer trouble and she wears it well
She looks good from a distance but up close you can tell
She’s stupid trouble, I can’t take much more
Am I capable of murder I can’t say for sure

I was minding my own business everything was cool
I been all around the world, man, I aint nobody’s fool
I’ve seen it all before, yeah I’m smarter than I look
But she walked right up to me and she read me like a book

She’s trouble, the kind that comes along
Weren’t doing nothing, just watering the lawn
She’ll latch onto your leg and she’ll never let go
She goin’ break up your happy home
She’s stupid trouble I can’t take much more
Am I capable of murder, I don’t know for sure
She’s stupid trouble
She’s stupid trouble