- Crooked Time 4:00
- You’ll Never Learn 3:51
- Year of the Night (Summer Sun) 5:11
- Half a Leg 4:15
- Lullaby for a Friend 3:17
- Dostoevsky 2:34
- Shoeshine 3:08
- Sorry Won’t Hear 3:57
- Heaven Knows 4:45
- Love 4:01
- Exile 4:36
- No More 4:57
Heaven Knows is a powerhouse album that represents the realization of a truth that had been staring Champagne Sunday in the face all along. It’s the band distilling the true essence of its sound and unleashing a beauty that had laid dormant in them for years prior, unfettered and free to do things their way. Though born at what could have been a very dark time for them, it flourished and helped propel the duo toward their own personal renaissance of musical discovery.
The energy and momentum gained by touring in the Pacific Northwest after recording Random Acts of Blindness suffered a slow and lingering death in the years that followed. Almost immediately upon returning to California in February of 2010 to lick our wounds, clear our lungs, and regroup for what was to be yet another tour of unknown length and location, bassist Anthony Kafka left the group.
We carried on as a three-piece with drummer Matt Gay for a few weeks, and though we received highly positive feedback on this setup (including LeAnn Rimes attending a show and later saying that we were “the best band I’ve ever seen that’s not yet famous”), we still felt a nagging emptiness in the low end of our sound. For the past year or so, we’d been playing our heavier songs and getting used to ourselves as a rock band. The gear shift back to our more acoustic sound of ’07/’08 felt too jarring (especially for Matt), and carrying on as an electric rock group without a bass felt too empty.
Enter bassist Tony Shibumi.
Tony was an excellent and pedigreed bassist that helped us keep the rock show going. Though we never recorded an album with him, we toured and played heavily for the remainder of 2010, including a highly successful return to the Pacific Northwest. However, with all that momentum built up, we also faced a number of disappointments later that year, including an audition for “America’s Got Talent” (for which we were not picked up) and a number of leads for record contracts that ultimately fell flat and left us financially and emotionally drained.
2011 was a musically stagnant year. Hope had been all but crushed in the group, rehearsals for new songs had become scarce, and performances were becoming tired routines. However, Jessi and I had picked up a bi-weekly acoustic gig at the coffee shop Full of Beans in Ojai which, though it was only ever attended by 10 or 15 people at a time on a good day, forced us to really work on our music without the band.
Despite the light attendance, the music began to take on a life of its own that was too profound to ignore. Suddenly, we were it and there was no one else to blame if something sounded off or wasn’t working. It pushed us to become accountable; it pushed us to be better musicians. And we embraced it whole-heartedly. We agreed that the next album would be only us; our way, no limits, no excuses.
Musical stagnation aside, 2011 saw a lot of activity outside the band. That year, Jessi and I got married, I began taking online classes toward earning my Bachelor’s Degree in Web Design, and Jessi had taken up a side project, singing with the band Vertigo Blend. It wasn’t until January of 2012 that work for the new album got seriously underway.
But once it did, there was no stopping it. By that time, we had moved into the house on the property where we were parking. It was isolated from any neighbors or traffic noise, making it an ideal place for tracking at all hours of the day or night. Using Garageband and a single USB microphone for tracking, and our show PA for monitors, we had a very roughly-hewn, but also surprisingly effective studio.
With at least three previous albums’ worth of second hand recording experience to draw from, the process was a lot of experimentation and discovery along the way, but it afforded us a tremendous amount of freedom to do things our own way. If someone woke up in the middle of the night with an idea, they could (and usually did) wander into the living room to screw around with it while it was still fresh in their head, making for a lot of really heartfelt, honest takes, and time consuming experiments that we had never had the time, money, or ability to attempt in a studio.
The brief addition of Evan Rohar (trumpet, tin whistle, conch, and backing vocals) to the project added a fresh dimension to the music that helped push it even farther in the new direction. We had come a long way since “Make It Mine”, but we were still at a loss as to how to define the kind of music that we do. The difference was that this time we were fully embracing our eclecticism. Proudly just being us, whatever that meant. What are we?
Heaven knows . . .
Jessi Fredeen – Vocals, guitars, keyboards, ukulele
Jared Fredeen – Guitars, vocals, bass, percussion, drum loops
Evan Rohar – Trumpet, backing vocals, tin whistle on “Lullaby for a Friend”, conch shell on “No More”
Additional stomps, claps, and shouts – Steven Hernandez, Jim Behrend, and Pam Danner
Album concept by Jessi Fredeen
Photography by Alyzabeth Anath
Design and layout by Jared Fredeen
Mastered by Sean Ingoldsby at Real Time Studios in Ojai, CA
All songs music and lyrics by Jessi Fredeen except:
You’ll Never Learn – music by Jared Fredeen, lyrics by Jared and Jessi Fredeen
Dostoevsky – music and lyrics by Jared Fredeen
Exile – music and lyrics by Jessi Fredeen, Jared Fredeen, and Matt Gay
We also borrowed the chorus from “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper and Rob Hyman
This entire album was recorded and mixed by us at “The Ranch”, where we lived, in our bathrobes and/or underwear, using GarageBand and a Blue Snowball microphone.