Track-by-Track: Michael Olivieri Band - 'M.O.B.'
Posted on August 1, 2012 - by Breeana Mulligan
For his band's debut album, former Leatherwolf frontman Michael Olivieri decided to move away from his metal roots and construct something a little more classic, a little more country. Recorded last year at For the Record Studios, Olivieri's seven-man band brought every instrument they could muster up to the table. Filled with catchy pedal steel licks, bluesy harmonica lines, and glistening slide guitar, the 11-song LP, which was mixed by Kevin Beamish (REO Speedwagon, Jefferson Starship, Y&T), promulgates tales of Olivieri's life in the most heartfelt and genuine way.
Below, Olivieri breaks down each track for us and discusses the recording process of 'M.O.B.'
"More Than I Do"
The whole M.O.B. record was written in a very short time -- less than 60 days or so. And this song was one of the first ones. This song came together very quickly. I remember sitting out on the patio with my acoustic guitar and Dan Lucett (also part of M.O.B.) talking to him about a relationship I was in and that had just ended. When the rest of the band showed up for a jam in our living room, which is where we worked out all of the songs, they took to it very quickly and the song came to life just like that. As soon as Buzzy James hit the main riff on his dobro and Eric Von Herzen doubled that on the harp, I knew we were onto something really cool. Then, K.K. Martin chimed in with the mando guitar and it was like "AAHH!" That made me want to pound out the rhythm on my acoustic even harder, which in turn made for an honest, heartfelt vocal track. The band not only has a unique blend of instrumentation but there are a lot of great singers in this band as well. Tom Croucier, Dan Lucett, and Paul Wilson all laid down a very solid background vocal track.
Another memory from this session is all of us standing around the mic doing the clap tracks. We were clapping so hard our hands were bruised and red!
The icing on the cake for me is Buzzy's dobro solo. That is so crazy good it freaks me out. Buzzy is a very talented dude and always takes the time and writes his guitar solos. What I mean by that is that he doesn't just ad-lib and say, "That was good enough." He spends hours coming up with great phrasing and note selection. But not in this case. I watched him do it. He had no idea what he was gonna play and just went for it. One take baby! No cutting, pasting, comping, or altering of any kind. He was like, "Let me do that again" and I was like, "Oh, hell no!"
I'm truly amazed at the level of musicianship in this band. And this song really captures the magic of seven guys in the studio vibing off each other.
This track has kind of an R&B feel to it. The intro riff was originally done on my acoustic guitar, with a different twist to it. Much more "pedestrian" if you will, but K.K. Martin came up with an alternative approach to it, which gave it more of a Stones feel.
My favorite part of the song is how the chorus modulates up to E-flat. What's also exciting is the solo section. Buzzy James on slide guitar and Eric Von Herzen on harmonica trade off and then K.K. chimes in for the interlude before Chris Whynaught belts out a sax solo, doubled by my vocal scats.
Usually, a song will lead back to a chorus, but what keeps this song exciting and moving right along is how it goes to a whole other section. It breaks into the outro then finishes with a James Brown type of feel. The ending is kind of cool in that all three sax tracks ad-lib for the last few seconds then come together, à la Saturday Night Live.
"Dead Man Crawl"
This one is an eight-and-a-half-minute epic track. This is take one of one. There is mojo all over this one. It's a typical 1970's classic rock track. Long guitar solos, mood changes, and just an overall great feel. Usually, we will track a song two or three times, but after take one on this song, our engineer said through the talkback mic, "Next!" I was hesitant to move onto the next song, so we went into the control room to make sure we got it, and sure enough there it was -- magic!
"Talk Me Down"
This one is very close to my heart. It's a Queen meets The Beatles kind of thing. I have a very close friend who I've known all my life. He struggles with depression and paranoia. He called me one night and was on the edge of the breaking point. He called me for support and said, "Talk me down." I was going through my own stuff and I replied, "Talk me down!" After a long conversation, I hung up the phone sat down on the piano, with tears running down my face. I wrote the song in 10 minutes or less. After i wrote it, I recorded it on my iPhone, listened back to it and sobbed. I knew I had just been given a gift. That song was given to me by a force beyond my own consciousness. What really captures the feel of this is the twisted false happiness of the piano and K.K.'s pedal steel guitar sliding in the opposite direction of Buzzy's slide guitar. Also, Paul Wilson plays this kind of a funeral death march on the snare drum, which really puts the visual of someone walking onto a ledge of a tall building ready to take the leap.
This is one of the only times I've written a song where the lyrics came before the music. I really only envisioned this with a piano and string section. I played it for the guys, they chimed in, and boom there it was. After we recorded the song, I brought in a brilliant cello player by the name of Larry Briner to lay down a few string parts. And then the song was finished. Someday I want to record this with a complete orchestra. That's my dream for this one.
"For Worse or Better"
My parents have been married for over 60 years and have 7 kids. This song honors their commitment to each other. This is another one that came together very quickly. The only thing that wasn't quick was picking a key to do it in. We must've tried this in every key. It's not often that I write a song on guitar in the key of F. I liked the way the vocals sat in that key, so I put a capo on the first fret and played it like that. The highlight for me in this song is Eric Von Herzen's harp. It's very tasty, fun, and bouncy.
The message of this song is that someday someone will come into your life and make you realize why it didn't work out with the one before!
This is the first song written for this record. It's got a country feel to it, and K.K. Plays a guitar part capoed on the fourth fret in a D position. It gives it a real Bakersfield feel. Also, this was the first guitar solo that Buzzy wrote. When he played it at rehearsal for the first time, I thought, "This guy gets it!" At the end of the song, Buzzy and K.K. trade off riffs and then come together and harmonize. It reminds me of an Allman Brothers thing. I love it!
The intro to this is haunting. I love the riff K.K. does. It's like a spaghetti western thing or something. I wrote this after I knew that it was over with me and my girlfriend. I think I did it justice in trying to get the listener to feel what it's like to love somebody when they don't love you back.
It's a dark, moody tune with very bluesy overtones brought out by Eric's harp and my vocal track. Paul Wilson and Tom Croucier laid down a very solid bass and drum track, and we vibed off of them.
This song also has another one of my favorite Buzzy solos. Actually, he does two solos in this song. Both are incredible.
Dan Lucett had the riff for the verse. We were hanging out on the back porch with our acoustic guitars, like we often do, and he was playing it and I just started to ad-lib the words. I felt like the chorus needed to go somewhere else, so we came up with that and there it was. This was actually the second song that was written for the record.
"Such is Life"
Another one of Dan's musical pieces that he had. I remember him playing the intro part on piano and these melodies started flowing through my head. We said, "That is so cool, let's work on that!" So we did. There's some tasty slide guitar by Buzzy on this one! Tom, Paul, and Dan did a great job on the backup vocals.
A classic track. This song talks about what it would be like if you outlived everyone you've loved.
This song was written so fast that I don't even remember writing it. What I do remember about it was K.K. and myself playing our acoustics and Buzzy on the dobro live sitting around a few microphones. We recorded it twice and used take two. We all sang the last chorus around one mic, and then we stacked the vocals numerous times, doubling or maybe even tripling each harmony.
Pick up Michael Olivieri Band's latest album, M.O.B..
For the band's upcoming tour dates, check out their official website.