Posted On: 01/31/2006
The band Red Eyed Driver formed around two years ago, with the four core members coming together after a variety of musical experiences in St. Louis.
That initial lineup included only songwriters Bryan Hoskins (guitar) and Andy Patania (keyboards), who began writing songs and even performing together live before adding a rhythm section. Soon thereafter, the duo was joined by a pair of veteran creative players in drummer Jill Aboussie and bassist Todd Dorsey, each experienced players in pop and rock, with a number of former bands to their credit. A succession of fifth members came and went, with outstanding guitarists such as Jimmy Griffin and Josh Kohn never fully sticking with the band but adding exciting moments onstage along the way.
Now, as the band readies for the release of its debut CD, “End of Restrictions,” the group’s faced with another, more profound shift in membership, as guitarist Jordan Heimburger enters the act on a full-time basis and Patania goes on an indefinite hiatus, due to a new time-intensive job at Busch’s Grove. Although his free time was immediately swallowed up by the Busch’s Grove gig, most of the members, in fact, maintain restaurant gigs in order to support their musical habits.
Hoskins is a bartender and server at Mangia Italiano. Aboussie is a bartender and the sommelier at Aya Sofia, and Dorsey runs sound and bartends at Lemmons. Only Heimburger is currently outside the industry, as he works for Dave Simon’s Rock School as a guitar instructor and doubles up as a player in the blues group Poorman’s Tonic.
“End of Restrictions” highlights the band prior to Heimburger joining and features the elements that have been its strengths since the beginning – for example, the tight harmonies of Hoskins, Patania and Absoussie, along with Dorsey’s smooth, assured work on the fretless bass. Add in the touches of power pop and Americana that tinge the group’s oft-straight-ahead, melodic pop-rock sound. Then there’s its ability to occasionally craft an achingly beautiful individual cut like “Song for the Haunted” or “Stranger to the Ground,” each a potential emphasis track on the CD.
Aboussie said that the best part of recording the album was the camaraderie that came from the sessions, along with the creativity that was explored in the studio.
“I think it turned out really well,” she said. “Our [engineer], Jason Hutto, came up with a lot of great ideas to incorporate into what we’re doing. There’s a broken record sound on one track. That came from him squeezing some chords in the sound room. It happened by accident. But he kept grabbing these chords and sound kept coming and it’s used in the song, over and over again. We all kind of inspired each other. We had a great time doing it. Most of the time in the studio, we were constantly laughing, joking around, razzing each other. It had our own feel and energy that we were able to capture, and when I listen to it, I think of the moments in the studio when someone said something crass or joked to each other. We definitely had a good time doing it.”
Hoskins added, “These sessions ended up with 15 songs, and we saved 12 of the 15. I just liked how we all worked together. I liked the fact that we were recording in the neighborhood, two blocks from my house. It was really relaxed and easy, no pressure. Jason works really fast, but he’s patient. He’s the same at midnight at the end of a 14-hour session as he is at the beginning, which is really hard to do. By the end of the day, it’s hard to keep your perspective.”
Although this record is just now ready for public consumption, the new-look band has taken root in the studio again, recording seven songs as of press time.
Aboussie said the sound is “more gritty, driving rock ’n’ roll. A lot of that is bringing in Jordan. It’s several months away from being done. But a good chunk is pretty far along, which is exciting to us again.”
Hoskins concurred by saying, “The stuff we’re recording is a little heavier than the new record. It’s darker, edgier, has more punch.”
That work, though, will have to wait, as Red Eyed Driver emphasizes the “End of Restrictions” album in coming months, playing with a wide assortment of different acts around the area at clubs such as Off Broadway. The CD, meanwhile, will be available at gigs, along with the Web site www.cdbaby.com, for $10.
For more information on the group, along with several MP3s, consult the Web site www.redeyeddriver.com.
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