Twenty-five years ago! My brothers and I were just talking about the movies that year, e.g., Jurassic Park ("Clever girl"), Schindler's List (Damn, Spielberg had a good year in 93!), Philadelphia, True Romance (Sicilians are great liars"), Carlito's Way ("Never give up your friends Dave, No matter what"), Groundhog Day ("Too early for flapjacks?"), I could go on, lots of great flicks that year.
My band, echolyn, was on a roll that year. Twenty-five years later we wanted to make available a hard-to-get little EP we did to mark the quarter century of passing time. The album (four songs) is up on Bandcamp. We all wrote some thoughts that came to mind about that time period. I'll attach mine in this blog and post a link for the full post from the other guys if you are interested.
Echolyn Release – 25 Year Anniversary
…and Every Blossom
Originally released June 18th 1993
This third collection of songs consisted of a four-song, 16-minute acoustic outpouring in the spring of 1993. The original pressing has long since been extinct, but in the early 2000s we were able to properly remix and master this little quartet of ideas for a box set culling hard-to-get songs and bonus tracks from our early catalogue. These four songs have resided exclusively on said box set for the past sixteen years. We think it’s time to let them live a life again as a stand-alone endeavor for digital download.
Twenty-five years is a blink, a blur, and a poignantly big chunk of one’s life. Here are a few twenty-five year-old memories related to “Blossom.”
Echolyn was growing in popularity very quickly in 1993. We had become a damn good live force the year before and were still getting better because of the variety and amount of shows we were playing. We started getting recognition from beyond of our home state and better yet our country because of our stage intensity – as well as the positive reviews of our two preceding albums (from 1991 and 1992). We all seemed to be operating with a mission, pistons firing. My brother Greg was getting press and gigs for us while expanding our network of industry connections. We all hung out and worked together in about as good a harmony as six people can – come to think of it, three of us lived together back then! We saw a lot of each other! Our designed snowball effect was building and the six of us were making a push to see how far it could go.
I remember in early 93 having a sense of songwriting momentum from the previous album – “Suffocating the Bloom”. I personally wanted a slight detour from what I knew would become our 4th album – “As the World.” I knew we would get to that album at some point (the songs were already starting) but thought it would serve that music and our creativity to try something short, spontaneous, and different before diving into another full-length project. I wanted an aside moment to pause from where we were heading. That aside was “…and Every Blossom.” It should be pointed out that the in the months leading up to and following this project we were playing gigs four to eight times a month and rehearsing constantly to stay sharp. We only slowed down during the actual recording process in May of that year. I know Greg and I saw each other every day working on various goals. It was non-stop!
Back to the music – I had four acoustic guitar ideas/fragments that I had been noodling with for awhile and wanted to try a different approach to not only the recording, but also the writing and arranging. I talked to Chris and he and I, through a series of sessions, started ironing out ideas. If I remember correctly we quickly fleshed out the tunes during these sessions. We worked on the songs at his parent’s house, he on his childhood piano, and me sitting next to him with my old acoustic guitar. Ray, did you come over while we were working? I forget. Besides piano and acoustic guitar we wanted to augment the songs with other instruments, i.e., better strings (failing miserably IMHO on our previous album) as well as a horn/woodwind section. The whole process for writing, recording, and releasing the album was very fast and not overwrought – just a couple months total. I had lyrical ideas for two of the songs and Ray worked on the remaining. We didn’t play the songs as a group to work them out (to my memory), maybe a little, but certainly not like what we normally did. I liked this idea. It gave the songs a different style. After Chris and I worked out the arrangements the process was basically this:
1. Track my acoustic guitar parts to some sort of tempo if needed (no drums)
2. Record piano, strings, horns, etc at Germantown Academy
3. Add bass and minimal percussion
4. Record vocals
5. Mix album
I used my 16-track tape machine for all of this. The new updated mixes (available since 2002) have been mixed directly from the original tapes. For me, the recordings mark the first time I started to finally record better sounds (given what I had). The songs themselves are singularly unique. They are different than what we were doing at that time– and even now they stand alone. When I hear these tunes they feel as if I’m visiting another place and time, yet like home. They are harmonically rich and always moving somewhere else. My lyrics are naïve, my lead voice still not my own, my creativity still not refined, but all – unabashedly – a process and progress for me. Chris does a lovely job with the string, horn, and woodwind arrangements. Just perfect. Tom’s fretless bass ideas add a nice touch of tonal ambiguity and uniqueness.
The album came out on June 18th. We played the Chestnut Cabaret in Philadelphia to celebrate. It was an excellent show that I remember to this day. Interestingly at this show we also played songs that would eventually be on our next album. “As the World.” The ideas were indeed flowing that year (all of “As the World” and “Blossom” were written in 1993). Less than a month after the June 18th release party we did a showcase for Sony Music at our studio (July 7th) and were offered a recording contract that would ironically be our penultimate moment while simultaneously marking the beginning of a slow disintegration of the idyllic efforts driving that stage of our lives. Weird huh?
1993 was really the Roman candle salute and last fanfare marking our DIY four-year unified effort to win the world. It was our “off to the front and over the top” moment! Everything changed after that year. We had many amazing adventures in 1994 and 95 but never to the unadulterated grand idea of 1993. Maybe we grew up, lost our naivety, or idealism? I don’t know. After 93 I felt like we had lost something in order to win the war.
“Blossom” is our acme moment of idealism, romance, and youthful exuberance from our first phase as a band. I hear it in the music and words. I listen to Ray’s lyrics on Blue and Sand. There is a real optimism witnessing the potential of spring and summer…and our band, “To reach, to grow as high as elephant’s eye.” I think that sums up and crystallizes what we reached for and how we felt that year. At my age now, thinking of 1993 and the music we wrote puts a smile on my face and yet makes me sort of sad. I guess the cliché to use would be bitter sweet? So it goes.
On the Way to The Chestnut Cabaret - June 18th, 1993 - for the "Blossom" release party.
L to R: Tom Hyatt, Chris Buzby, Ray Weston (front), Brett Kull (back), Greg Kull (manager), Maurice Richard (Live sound), Paul Ramsey.