Mike Levy of The Small Kings talks about their new CD which is just out. The CD release show is Tuesday October 28th at Maxie’s in Ithaca NY.
“The CD is a combination of old Small Kings standards, plus a handful of songs that we wrote in a flurry of creativity when Joel first joined the band and we changed the name from Marty Withers to The Small Kings. We spent a whole lot of time together as we got used to playing with Joel on drums and Benjamin Costello on keys, and the results were amazing. Just by being together a lot, we found that these songs started to spring up out of nowhere. Also, Benjamin and Joel gave us new perspectives which translated into more deliberate arrangements. “Tale of Innocent Beginnings” and “Brooklyn” were born as extended jams and were then rounded out with lyrics from Joel’s poetry notebook. Another handful of songs are Jeff’s. He has a knack for putting together very original pop tunes, beautiful songs that flow in a series of movements. “Stained Glass Window” and “Renard Fogo” are two of these, and I see them as companion songs. There’s a lot of collaborative songwriting here, like “Comfort in Between,” which I wrote with Jeff. That song was a huge breakthrough for me, as it was the first set of lyrics I wrote that had no sarcasm and no humor whatsoever. “Blacktop Down” was another collaboration, written by Jeff and Frank about Joel’s budding relationship with Jocelyn. Joel added some lyrics for the chorus, which is only fitting.
We recorded with Will Russell, and right from the start it was clear that he was a great fit for us. He made us very comfortable. Not only did he match our sense of humor pun for pun, but he was also very complimentary and knew just how to get us to relax and at the same time attack our performances with sharp attention. Though we’d practiced “Brooklyn” over and over leading up to the sessions, our performance of the song at Wilburland was by far superior to anything we’d ever done. That’s a testament to Will. Actually, we never even planned to record it, since it’s such a sprawling jam. But we had a little extra time on our hands, and it worked out perfectly. Later on, Will told us that he would play the track for potential clients as an example of what’s possible at his studio. That was as good a compliment as we could ask for.
The cover art was contributed by Dave Palmer, an Ithaca College grad who went on to create the famous “Blue” character from “Blue’s Clues.” Dave’s currently an animation director for another hit kids show, “The Backyardigans.” We gave him a copy of the music to serve as inspiration, and he sent us a series of sketches that he came up with. The problem was that we liked a bunch of them, and we just couldn’t settle on one. So we decided to go for the “Let it Be.” That is, we went with four images set aside in boxes. (see comments by Dave below)
The CD release show will feature the newer, acoustic side of the band. I’ll be playing upright bass and ukulele, and Jeff and Frank will stick with their acoustic guitars, with Frank adding banjo and bass here and there. We’ll plug in after a break and then perform all of the songs from the album—in the order that they appear. We’re lining up a bunch of special guests, including Benjamin Costello, who played keyboards on the CD. You can also expect to see Joe Crookston come by and sing a couple. Jenna Goodman, our close friend and one-time band mate, will hopefully saw some fiddle for a few tunes in the electric set.” -Mike Levy
The Small Kings http://www.myspace.com/thesmallkings
The new CD will be available at local retailers such as Small World Music, Ithaca Guitar Works, Volume Records and Ludgate Farms.