Acoustic Kitty Project is in the midst of putting their final paw prints on the follow-up to the Easton-based band's 2013 debut album, 'Shine.
The album is tentatively set for a late summer release.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting front-man Carter Lansing and guitarist/producer Michael Carr at Holland Studios in Milford, New Jersey. In addition to discussing the process of cutting a new record, Lansing took time out for a separate question-and-answer session:
Q.) Musically, and lyrically, what did hope to accomplish the most with this album?
A.) Musically, the album was supposed to be a live record. It is the first album we have done as a full band. So, I wanted to get the energy and fun that we have in our live shows to translate to this new material.
Lyrically, I have two topics: love and death. Everything is a variation on those two themes. But, the songs on this album do tell an all-too-common story: love lost, rebirth, death of traditions, the passage of time. There are some dark spots. But they are tempered by some debaucherous rock 'n' roll. This album is about drowning your sorrows, and leaving their bloated corpses as a warning to other sorrows.
Q.) What influenced you this time around?
A.) My biggest influences continue to be my friends: Mike Roi, Bill McConney, Bryson K, Nick Levinos, any of the guys in the Bastard Sons (of Burt Sugarman); these cats can WRITE. So they make me pay attention to my craft. But also, the players! Dear god! The musicians in the (Lehigh) Valley are so talented. It challenges me to be better.
Of course, a recent resurgence in the popularity of amazing singer-songwriters like Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton gave me ample motivation to step up my game, too.
Q.) What did you learn the most from recording 'Shine that you implemented on the making of this record?
A.) Listen to Mike Carr! He's my producer and lead guitar player. 'Shine was all about me. It was a collection of my songs, arranged and played (mostly) by me. I knew going into this album that I had no interest in adding layer after layer of filigree. No endless sessions of noodling until I "found" the sound. I didn't want production. I wanted playing.
It's so easy, with technology, to go down a rabbit hole. I've eaten that mushroom. I wanted something real, not something based in an imaginary studio world that would never be experienced or reproduced live.
Q.) You can really hear, and feel, the dynamics and chemistry between the band members in the new songs. What was it like getting to record with the whole band?
A.) It's a damned gift. It's truly the happiest I have ever been with anything I have ever created. Somehow, these guys just get where I'm going and they will more often than not carry my ass across the finish line. This band was, and I don't throw this word around lightly, a blessing.
Q.) You have a song called "We Are One." How much does that title speak to the larger music community of Easton or the Lehigh Valley and beyond?
A.) "We Are One" is a song (my wife) Becky and I wrote together when we were dating. We didn't have much money and sat around playing music. The words to that song probably should have been our wedding vows, really. But, the deeper meaning that has come out of it is that we are all part of something bigger. Whether it's two souls in love, five guys in a band, or 500 weirdos trying to make music in the Lehigh Valley.
There is no "them." Or, at least, there can't be if you want to grow. We are all part of this. Squelch your ego and just do good work. Listen to and learn from each other.
Catch Acoustic Kitty Project in concert June 24 during "Easton Rocks 2" at Third Street Alliance for Women & Children in Easton.