- Myself 4:17
- Pity 3:21
- Ventura Sky (2009) 4:04
- Blue Skies 4:45
- The Day Miss Alice Went Insane 3:07
While beginning the first part of their 2009 tour up in Monterey, CA, Matt Gay, Anthony Kafka, Jared Fredeen and Jessi Fredeen (then, Reems-Terrell) were walking through the streets of Sand City, contemplating the events of the weeks that led up to tour, the fans/friends that had reached out to help them in what would be the first leg of a very trying 6 month adventure, and the absolute randomness of how they all ended up there together. These conversations led to the phrase "random acts of blindness", which would later be used as the title for the 3rd recorded endeavor of Champagne Sunday. This is the story of that EP.
July 3rd, we (Matt, Jessi and Jared) played our first gig with Anthony Kafka. It was an hour long show that was part of a downtown festival in Ventura, CA (Champagne Sunday's hometown). Anthony had had one rehearsal with us prior to the gig, and passed the audition with flying colors. This was amusing to all of the members, seeing as how Kafka had mainly been a huge metal player before his introduction Champagne Sunday. At the gig, we all enjoyed ourselves and felt like this was the match we had been waiting for. So, what better way to bring in a new member and request a lifelong commitment than to get tossed together, skinny dip in the ocean, and watch Kafka hurl carrots over the balcony onto the parked cars below? A match made in heaven? Well, made in Ventura at least. Brilliant.
Our plan was to leave for tour on September 1st, heading to the one gig that we had actually booked which was in Tacoma, WA at a Mexican restaurant called La Fondita, on September 24th. We also had hopes of getting the return gig at the Lake Chelan Music festival in Lake Chelan, WA around that same time. Not too positive a way to embark on a journey that had no vehicle, no "tour dates", no places to stay, and no album to tour with that had the four of us represented on it. So, let's make an album!
We were VERY short on funds (weird) and had noticed a small studio in Ventura selling a 3 song for $300 deal. We thought, cool! Let's go in, rock 5 tunes and come out with an EP that we could sell on tour. The studio was not bad actually and we were very prepared. Since Matt, Jared and I had been playing together for awhile, we really had an easy time communicating and working together. Kafka was just a badass and was serious enough about his craft and work to really dig in and put his best foot forward for the recording of the tunes.
This EP was important for many reasons. First off, we felt that our previous cd, North, was just a bit too "shiny" as far as the production went, and we were trying to get more of a "raw" sound, more akin to our live performances, to accurately portray what we were currently doing. Also, Mattie, our drummer, was chomping at the bit to be on an album with us. Rightly so, as North had had a studio drummer on it and we'd been playing with Mattie since the release of that album, and it was only fair! Kafka had not been with us long enough to even let his amp cool, but he was a great player and seemed committed to the project as best as we could hope for. Plus, the bassist that we had at the time was slowly phasing himself out and we needed to move on, and fast. Jared and I felt so deeply that we had something to prove to everyone. We were literally leaving everything comfortable behind and driving head-on into a wall of doubt, adventure, perhaps failure, and the unknown. In short, "random acts of blindness". You can literally hear the sheer, stubborn, will come out in the vocal climax of Blue Skies, or the vulnerability of the verses, juxtaposed with the powerful electricity of the chorus in Ventura Sky, and the absolute crazed insanity of the piano and lyrics in The Day Miss Alice Went Insane. These songs were more than audio representations of Champagne Sunday, they were declarations of what was, what we didn't know, and what we were facing. So, with all that riding on our shoulders, we went in and had all the raw tracks and overdubs done in 2 days. We recorded the tracks much like someone stuck on a deserted island devours his first meal after rescue, we were starved for this chance and gulped it down. The engineer was impressed and reassured us that this only made his job easier and we were going to have a stellar EP in a couple of weeks.
During the wait time for the cd to be finished, we got some killer photos done, bought an rv, moved out of our apartment into said rv and began rearranging our life to be a forward moving unit of 4 musicians, brought together by the bonds of just enough crazy to tour indefinitely and see what happened.
Two days before we were scheduled to leave for tour, and after much prodding and pleading on our part with the cd engineer, we finally got the EP. Now, knowing what we had recorded, and how the raw tracks sounded, we were eager to hear the finished product. As we recalled, not too much really needed to be done to it, since were really trying to capture an honest representation of what we did and stay away from an "over-produced" result. This is what we thought we were going to hear. Instead, we were shocked with the results! It literally sounded as though the engineer had only had experience working in the porn industry, recording the soundtracks to bone to. Our songs had been reverbed to death, over effected and washily produced, creating the illusion that you were about to see the dishwasher repair man have his way with the sex-deprived, stay-at-home mother of 3, who just happens to be mixing ice cold lemonade…naked! But, I digress.
Jared and I drove right back to the studio, demanding that he take all the effects off, give us just the raw tracks and we would just take it to get mixed and mastered somewhere else. He said he could have it in a week. But we were running out of time! We were supposed to leave in a 2 days and we still had no product to sell. The engineer wanted to make good, but clearly had no idea what he was doing, or at least not for our project, but did as we requested, took the effects off, did some minimal mixing and gave us the cd. We were so much happier with the new version. We figured that we could at least sell copies of it this way until we had the funds to get it mixed and mastered correctly. Little did we know that when we finally went to request the raw tracks from the guy, he would be nowhere to be found and the whole studio would be shut down forever. I bet he's making porn soundtracks now.
Either way, it was a tumultuous time for CS, but an exciting one none the less. While deciding what to name the EP, that conversation from Sand City weighed heavy on each of us, as we had blindly headed into this time in our lives with ambition and drive, randomly ending up together, fighting for the same goal. Hence the birth of "Random Acts of Blindness".
Enjoy the album.
Jessi Fredeen - Vocals, guitars, keys
Jared Fredeen - Vocals, lead guitars, keys
Anthony Kafka - Bass guitar
Matt Gay - Drums
Recorded and Engineered by Ross Stein at Mega Sound Studio in Ventura, CA on Sunday, July 19th, 2009
Produced and Mixed by Ross Stein and Champagne Sunday
All songs copyright 2009 except Ventura Sky, copyright 2007
All songs published by Faraca Rocks My Socks Off Music (ASCAP)
Artwork by Jared Fredeen
Photo by Angela Izzo
These songs (in their skeletal forms) were written by one or two people, but they were brought to life by the synergy, the love of the music, and the common vision shared by these four artists. They survive and live because people like you are listening. Thank you. Enjoy the music and pass it along.