Releases? Release? “The Hard Times” is a single unit, but it’s more than one person, but… whatever.
With not a lot of fanfare, my reggae project The Hard Times released our first 3 song EP “Two Bucks For Bob” on Whatevski, a boutique online store that specializes in b-sides, live songs, rarities, and side projects from the world of NYC ska/reggae band The Slackers. So how did we get in? I’ll start at the beginning but I’ll jump around.
The three songs on this EP were recorded along with 7 others on one day back in March (actually, I don’t really remember when it was, but it was a while ago) at The Gallery in Brooklyn. The Gallery is a small studio built in an old industrial building in Bushwick. I don’t remember who referred it, but we had heard good things, it was affordable, and they were able to fit us all in one room. For our first recording, it was important for us to record everything at once. We wanted the “live” feel but also we were confident that we sounded best when we played together. We were skeptical about multitracking at this stage. In the course of 8 hours, we did anywhere from 3 to 5 takes on 10 songs. This is not unlike how all recording was done once upon a time. You walked in, you had a couple tries to get the song right, and you moved on. There was one mic in the room if you were lucky. (I highly suggest watching “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” and reading Andy Bassford’s blog for some great insight into recording as it once was.) We had significantly more luxuries: we were still recording all at once in one room, but we all had our own mics, and we were still tracking using protools so we could still have some level mixing and post-production. We still had to be weary of bleed, so if one person screwed up, we still had to go back and do it again. Needless to say, by hour 4, nerves were tense.
In the end, we decided to keep something like 5 or 6 of the songs. 3 or 4 of them will never see the light of day. This isn’t some elaborate promotion scheme so we can posthumously release b-sides, they’re just not up to par. I think it’s important to note that just because you took the time to record, doesn’t mean you should take–waste–the time in promoting and selling it. Once we had the tracks, the next step was picking the best takes, which we did internally over some beers. We then simply asked around to see who would be interested in mixing. The Slackers’ guitarist, Agent Jay AKA Crazy Baldhead, put his name in the hat. Jay not only plays guitar, DJs, and does studio work for The Slackers, but he’s also a serious supporter of upcoming artists and the local NYC reggae scene. He’s booked us a number of times for his Dirty Reggae parties in Brooklyn and Thursday nights at Otto’s. We passed along the three songs we thought he’d be most interested in mixing and would best fit his sound, and after few rounds of feedback in each direction, we had our final mixes! This part of the process was more or less magic as far as I was concerned.
Why Whatevski vs. iTunes, Amazon, and the rest? When I was in my high school punk band, the goal wasn’t getting our homemade CD into FYE and Best Buy. We wanted to sell our music where we actually bought music: The Music Box and The Exile on Main St (2x RIP). Nothing’s changed. I rarely by anything on iTunes and have never bought any music on Amazon, and I’m willing to bet that most of our fans and our audience that would be willing to actually pay money for this record, are customers at Whatevski anyways. The fact is that I’m happy with people sharing these tunes anyways. I did insist that we have the tunes up on bandcamp as well, given that I want people to be able to share and stream the tunes as simply as possible and give people an option to buy from us directly. Likely, we won’t be doing anything physical for these songs but one never knows. I think we also have the pleasure of being the first release from Whatevski R&D. I’m not yet sure what that means but it sounds cool.
Artwork? I ripped off the Trojan Records box set covers in the course of a couple nights. Hardly inspired but it did the trick. More importantly, all the band members were happy with it with very few changes and corrections along the way.
If you can spare $3 and/or a few minutes:
- preview and buy the EP from Whatevski
- preview and download the album from Bandcamp
- embed a tune from bandcamp on your blog
- ask me for a free version for you to review
- repost/reblog/link to The Hard Times blog post about this release
There’s a full press release below the jump. Thanks and cheers!
PRESS RELEASE : Debut EP from The Hard Times, Dirty Reggae NYC-style
The Hard Times, NYC’s own 5-piece instrumental reggae machine, release their first digital EP, Two Bucks for Bob, on Whatevski Records.
For the last couple of years, the NYC reggae scene has been popping and grooving to the sounds of many new bands that have seeded and spawned amid the Slackers’ home borough of Brooklyn. The Hard Times are a hometown favorite, an Upsetters-inspired rhythm powerhouse, merging early reggae and soul with hard-rocking attitude, and melodious keys and guitar. No horns need apply, but they can often be found at the regular haunts in NYC and Slacker Jay Nugent’s “Dirty Reggae” parties in Brooklyn. It’s natural, then, that their first release is an EP of 3 killer tracks, mixed by Agent Jay / Crazy Baldhead, and released on Whatevski Records, a digital label from Brooklyn best know as the channel for Slackers’ live show CDs and various Slackers side projects.
The Hard Times were founded in 2009 by drummer Bob Timm, and features an original lineup of old and new faces in the NYC scene. Timm is a veteran of the 90s NYC ska scene (The DeFactos, Orange Street) and also covered ska music from 1997 to 2005 forAbout.com. His very talented reggae cohorts in The Hard Times: Jerica Rosenblum (DeFactos, Scofflaws, Mephaskapheles) on keys and piano, Juan Javier Cardenas (Duppies) on bass, Jamaican rhythm anchored by guitarist and CT Ska alumnus, Jacob Wake Up! and aided and abetted by the dirty doubling and lyrical leads of Sean Donnelly. This rhythm machine has quickly earned a rep as backing band in demand, having the pleasure of bringing in guests like Angela Solo, Coolie Ranx, Jah Point, Likkle Dan, and a special night in June 2010 backing Slackers’ Vic Ruggiero for a night of classic reggae and Two Tone covers. With Juan Cardenas following a professional acting career to the West Coast, The Hard Times are rolling right into 2011 with new bassist Phil Wartell (Radiation Kings / Rudie Crew) and look forward to playing for a variety of crowds in the NY area.
“Two Bucks for Bob” is the first of several EPs The Hard Times have in the pipeline for world at large as they keep working hard playing to the NY crowds from Brooklyn to Harlem. Check out these debut tunes and stay tuned for more soon.
FOR YOUR REVIEW AND RADIO/PODCAST PLAY: [email for link]
We’re happy to make these tunes available for your immediate promotional use and thank you for helping us get it heard. Please encourage support of the band and future Hard Times music by directing your friends and audiences to Whatevski. For interviews, and more details, please contact Bob Timm at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Album Artwork: http://whatevski.org/img/covers/DIP015l.jpg
Release Date: 11/12/10
Label: Whatevski R&D