"Cloud 9" EP - Randy McGravey Band - Behind the Making
Updated: May 6, 2021
The Randy McGravey Band released their debut 6 song EP on November 25, 2020. The EP titled "Cloud 9" features Randy McGravey on vocals/guitar, Brian McGravey on keyboards, Rich Crowley on drums, Matt Hain on bass for 3 songs, and Jon Barrows on bass for 3 songs. The album blends nostalgic rock with modern alternative vibes. Lyrically, the songs deal with the harsh era of Covid-19, moving on from past troubles, living life to the fullest and celebrating success.
The band took to the studio in September of 2020 to track the electric guitar, drums and bass for all 6 songs. Originally, they were planning to record in March of 2020, but the COVID quarantine pushed them back about 6 months.
While waiting in the studio, the members were beyond excited at how professional the instruments sounded when mic'ed up at Metronome Studios (Metronome LLC, Brookline NH). They all brought their favorite instruments and were ready to rock!
The session was great, and was the first time this group of musicians had ever recorded together professionally in a studio. Of course, they had played countless shows together in MA and NH with the cover band "Mint".
Next on the list was recording the acoustic guitar tracks. Randy went to Boardzhouse Studios (also in Brookline, NH) in October 2020 to record with Peter Peloquin, who had previously tracked Randy's instrumental album "Fool's Gold". Pete and Randy were very efficient, and knocked out the session in less than 3 hours.
Finally, later in October, Randy traveled down to Lighthouse Productions in Cape Cod to record the vocals with his good friend and former "TallBoys" bandmate Jared Ghioto. The two had great sessions all weekend in Jared's newly soundproofed studio tracking room. Vocals were recorded with the in-progress mixes that Randy had whipped up for the session. Aside from engineering the session, Jared also lended his vocal skills to sing harmonies on the EP's debut song "Home".
Track List and Song Notes
Home - I wanted this song to have a modern "Lumineers" or "Imagine Dragons" vibe with big claps and drums in the verses, that moves to a big "Hold My Hand" (Hootie & the Blowfish) type of chorus. The lyrics pay homage to family, friends and the good times of growing up. I figured this song would be a big intro to the album, and it is one of my personal favorites because of its simplicity. Fun fact: the clean lead guitar part leading up to the final chorus was written only a few days before the session.
Thrill of the Chase - I wanted to have a straight up rock song on the album, ala AC/DC (Jay jokingly commented during the session that it sounded like Angus Young). Classic rock was my favorite to listen to when I was a kid, and it's hard for me to avoid the "thrill" of playing it! These lyrics deal with living life to the fullest, and saying life is too short to not chase your dreams. The guitar solo for this was also the very first take, and Jay wouldn't even let me do another one!
Change of Season - Had we recorded in March as originally planned, this song would not have been created. This song deals with the struggles of the COVID quarantine, though it mentions that things will be brighter than ever, when it ends. The music of this tune was inspired by 90's rock, particularly one of my favorite bands: Alice in Chains. I'm sure there will be a lot more quarantine songs written in the coming years by all types of artists.
Cloud 9 - Ah the title track, this song has become one of the fan favorites because of its climactic and energetic ending. I had a lot of fun writing the riffs and solos for this song. It almost has a country-style verse, rock pre-chorus, and alternative chorus. The verses deal with past troubles, while the chorus arrives at a feeling of nirvana in the present. I'd rather not say too much about the lyrics, because several people have had different interpretations. It is open for the listener to explore! Also, when I was recording the sample vocals many months before the studio session, I randomly added the line "Hey Johnny, Hold this for me!" which I couldn't help but put in the real thing. Johnny (Jon) is the bass player on the track, and I was joking that he should hold my beer while I take the guitar solo.
Vice - This is the darkest song on the EP. This song is acoustic-based and deals with having an unhealthy vice. The attitude of the chorus however, provides optimism and strength to the protagonist. Fun fact about this song: we added drums to the later part of the song in rehearsal literally the day before the session. The rocking end of the song provided the over-the-top emotion that the song previously hadn't reached.
New Day - I actually considered dropping this song from the EP, because some of my older rough recordings didn't sound the way I wanted them to. I'm glad I kept it, because this became one of my favorite mixes on the album, and a fitting send-off for the album. The intro is a bit misleading, because the song takes a turn into a more rocking verse and pre-chorus. These lyrics deal with severing toxic relationships and becoming a new person. I also think this is my favorite vocal recording on the EP, and it was the last one that I tracked with Jared.
There was one song that I did cut from the album. I still have the song in a notebook somewhere, but when I recorded rough demos for it, it didn't have that special quality that I thought it would. When I write songs, there is usually an initial excitement. Whether the excitement continues, or dies out, determines if I should invest my time and money to record it professionally. The song is called "Grown Man" and perhaps someday I will re-work it and release it. Only time will tell!
Randy McGravey - Vocals, Guitars, Percussion, Ukulele, claps
Rich Crowley - Drums
Matt Hain - Bass on "New Day" "Thrill of the Chase" and "Vice"
Jon Barrows (Johnny) - Bass on "Home" "Cloud 9" and "Change of Season"
Brian McGravey - Keyboards
Jared Ghioto - Backing vocals and claps on "Home"
Jay Frigoletto - Recording Engineer, Producing (Metronome LLC, drums, bass, electric guitar)
Peter Peloquin - Recording Engineer (acoustic guitar, Boardzhouse Productions)
Jared Ghioto - Recording Engineer (Vocals, Lighthouse Studios)
Owen Ross - Recording Assistant (Metronome LLC)
Randy McGravey - Mixing, Producing, Recording (percussion, additional guitars)
Alex Gavrilas - Logo Design
Noor Singh - Album cover
"Cloud 9" by Randy McGravey Band is available on all streaming platforms.