Stephen Francis on "A Boy & His Crown":
WHAT INSPIRED THIS ALBUM?
I was personally shedding skin at the time and spending a lot of time listening to a lot of David Bowie, Beatles, Radiohead and other ambient pop formats. I wasn't consciously going for anything when I was writing other than not repeating what we had done with our previous album "Shaky Coma", which I was not very happy with. I wanted to shed musical skin also and 'get to the point' in our songs. Not in a pop way but avoid excess instrumentation and have stronger arrangements overall so the songs could be played with just an acoustic guitar if need be.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
The EP is kind of a short narrative, not in any chronological order, but the themes represent innocence and power…. A Boy - Is the youth/delusion/hope and the Crown - represents entitlement from age/responsibility/power. And in the end the message is to hold onto what you believe. The perversion of innocence is a painful experience that most of us never truly get over.
For example 'Sound the Sirens' is about this make believe king in this make believe kingdom who suffocates everything he loves, but he doesn't know any better. "… karmic horses are changing courses…" - He is delusional believing that inevitably those who do not love him back will pay for it. You put a person of power into a situation of love and he doesn't view it the same as a young and naive boy.
IS THERE A THEME?
Yes. The theme is a more of a question of whether or not we, as humans, can hold onto our peace of mind when we are put into unwilling positions of power. Some people are not ready to grow up, some people do not want to lose their innocence. It is a rite of passage that we all go through worthy of us studying as a collective. Take 'Monster' for example.. The music is jangly but the message is dark. Every adolescent goes through these trials and I still haven't decided if I am okay with the things that were taken away from me.
WHERE DID THE NAME COME FROM?
I had this crazy idea that had something to do with a childrens book. Anyways, I was peeking around in libraries looking at childrens books and I wanted something that would be simple but say a lot. A Boy and His Crown… the innocent and the jaded. The angels and the monsters. Very simple themes that both children and adults could understand.
WHO DESIGNED THE COVER ART?
The cover art was done by Neil Danaher. He had assistance from Dick Thorn whom illustrated the boy and the crown. Neil did the formatting, layout and design with his graphic work and Dick's illustrations. Very great work.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU (FROM FIRST IDEA TO FINISHED PRODUCT)?
We actually were gifted some studio time so it took a lot longer than it needed to. It was not our time so we were only able to record when the studio was available. In addition our original drummer left after we recorded the first two tracks on the record. In the end we did it in three sessions… all on analog at Fat Recording in Mundelien, IL. David and I became very good friends when we met a few years back. I had sent him a few songs and he was supposed to pick one that he wanted to record.. He ended up liking them all so much that he offered to do the whole EP. We were in line to record a full length but do to the opportunity and the quality of his work and gear we went with doing only 4 songs as kind of a preview to what is coming next for Reverie. We ended up mixing it at our warehouse in Schaumburg, IL.
WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE IN RECORDING IT?
After doing "Shaky Coma" on our own we were well aware of the dangers and pitfalls of working in the studio. We spent a lot of time doing pre-production and trying the songs out at different tempos, thus eliminating the challenges we had our first few times through the studio. The biggest challenge was the transition of bringing (drummer) Brad Elliot in and basically starting over while we were still moving ahead. We went from doing a 14 song record to doing a 4 song EP that we virtually had no control or idea when we would be recording. For example, we were practicing one Saturday when my phone rang and David (FAT Recording) called me. He explained that it would be a good day to do a song. We then had to rush out and do all of the album takes for 'Monster'. Not being in the studio mindset and then being thrown in can really be a challenge, but in the end I feel we rose up to the occasion pretty well for the circumstances at hand.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RECORDING PROCESS ON THIS ALBUM AND IN GENERAL:
Our recording process on this record was very different than previous sessions. Because our studio time was limited I did a lot of extra keys and guitars as 'just in cases'. So our arrangements were very crowded at the original mix. When we took it back to our warehouse Kevin, Brad, and I were able to take away from the mix and build the songs from the bottom up. Previously we had always figured out our arrangements before recording which left us always adding more.
ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE FINAL PRODUCT?
Yes and no. For the circumstances that we were under we did a really good job. Essentially these are very good demos, however if we could afford the allotted time to do these songs with some more time and not so '1 take' mentality we possibly would have performed with a bit more confidence. It is a bit safe for my liking, but sonically and arrangement wise it is the best work we have been part of. The songs are fun and interesting. On my satisfaction chart I would give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
WHO ELSE PLAYED ON IT OR WAS INVOLVED (MIXING/MASTERING)?
'Morning Paper' was mixed at FAT Recording. Everything else was mixed at our warehouse in Schaumburg. I also added some backwards guitar and synth to 'Monster' post production. Bruce Breckenfeld put down a really nice B3 solo. I basically told him my idea and he shredded it. Matthew Kittner (Reverie's previous and original drummer) played the drums on 'Morning Paper' and 'Hang On To Yourself'.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT IT?
It is a preview to a really exciting and colorful record that will be coming out near the end of the spring 2010. We have already sold a little over 1000 copies of "A Boy & His Crown" touring and through live shows… which shows me that this music translates better live.
PEOPLE WHO LIKE (INSERT ARTISTS/ALBUMS HERE) WILL LIKE THIS ALBUM:
People who like indie music will like this album.
ANY OTHER THANKS?
Thanks to David Martorana for his gift of studio time and his endless stream of brilliant advice.
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