Edwin McCain Biography
Last updated: 01/02/2012 11:00:00 AM
FORMED: Charleston, SC
In addition to acoustic-based songs such as the reflective waltz time "Write Me A Song" and the soaring and contemplative "Kentucky," the album also displays a heretofore unseen side of McCain and his veteran band as they kick out the jams on infectious rock 'n' roll numbers like the hard-driving "Get Out Of This Town" and the high-energy title track.
"I think this album is for sure the best one I've ever made," McCain enthuses. "It shows a side of the band that we never had really gotten on record. This time I was like, 'Man, let's just make a fun record, something where people can just put the top down and turn it up.'"
Produced by Greg Archilla (best known for his work as engineer on records by such artists as matchbox twenty, Collective Soul, and Neil Young), with additional production by McCain, bassist Scott Bannevich, guitarist Larry Chaney, drummer Dave Harrison, and multi-instrumentalist Craig Shields, "FAR FROM OVER" was recorded at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studios, located out in the Hill Country 30 miles west of Austin, Texas.
"We were out in the middle of nowhere," the South Carolina-based McCain recalls. "We cooked on a hot plate and lived in crappy apartments and it was fun as hell! It was wonderful! It's an older studio – it's State of the Art 1984 – but I don't believe that you have to spend a million dollars to make a good record. It's a great studio – they had good gear, it had a great room. I mean, for us it's really all about the vibe. It's all about getting all of us together and spending some time together."
The sessions were marked by the crew's collective approach towards the recording, with Archilla serving as engineer and de-facto producer, and McCain and the band offering substantial input along the way. The resulting "FAR FROM OVER" is more raw-sounding than previous McCain collections, while at the same time, more personal and closer to the artist's vision.
"For years I was like, 'Let the producer do it, cause he knows better than I do,'" Edwin says. "'Plus he's getting paid a whole of money, so he may as well be doing it instead of me.' Now, after doing it this way, it's like, 'God, I'm an idiot! I should have been doing this all along.' I probably wasn't ready up until this point, but now I'm old enough and I've done it enough times to where I know what I'm listening to and I know what I'm looking for. It's a growth process."
All songs on "FAR FROM OVER" were written by McCain (with one exception being "I've Seen A Love," which was co-written by Edwin and Duane Evans). The album features background vocals from singers Jacqueline Johnson (Lenny Kravitz, Luther Allison) and Jacquelyn M. Reddick (Pops Staples, the Memphis Horns), in addition to Edwin's good buddy Shawn Colvin, who lends her voice to both the country-flecked "Hearts Fall" and "Write Me A Song." McCain and the Grammy Award-winning singer/songstress – and current Austin resident – struck up their friendship a few years back as a result of Edwin's sardonic sense of humor.
"I was outside of her dressing room," McCain remembers, "and I was giving this promoter hell. He was standing there speechless and Shawn yells at me from her dressing room, 'Get 'em, Edwin!' and a friendship was born. We got along like gangbusters, so when I called her to do this, she was real cool, and said, 'Absolutely.' She showed up and sang and then we sat around and smoked cigarettes and told road stories and had a great time. It was awesome."
While the songwriter wears his trademark sensitive side on his sleeve with moving and evocative tracks like "Letter To My Mother" and "Dragons," "FAR FROM OVER" finds McCain & Co. getting their rocks off on a number of tunes. "Sun Will Rise" is joyous jangle pop, while the propulsive title cut stands out as an irresistible affirmation of Edwin's rock 'n' roll heart. As anyone who's caught McCain and the band live knows, the album's more assertive attitude is hewn from infinite nights sweating it out on infinite stages.
"I've written and played music like that for years but I've never put it on a record," McCain explains. "It's always been something I like listening to – 'BACK IN BLACK' is one of my mainstays in the CD changer, y'know – so being able to put it on a record is great. It was time. When I first started, I just wanted to be the singer/songwriter guy with the acoustic guitar, but there's only so many years you can do that before you get kind of tired of it.
"I was becoming known for these kind of dirgey acoustic songs – music to slash your wrists by – and I was leaving something out. But not anymore! It's the new Aggro-Edwin! I'm going to go get a skateboard! Y'know, I used to play in shorts and Doc Martens, and I might go back to that. And I used to wear a red Cincinnati Reds baseball cap!"
Much of the record sees McCain reflecting on the musician's life he's chosen for himself. One certain highlight of "FAR FROM OVER" is the powerhouse pop song, "Radio Star," which offers up Edwin's unsurprisingly scathing view of today's music scene. Inspired by every musician's favorite TV show, Behind the Music. The song is a hilarious and heated assault on sanctimonious, self-obsessed rock stars.
"You watch Behind The Music – you can't help but watch, cause it's like a train wreck – and the ones that are really good are the ones where the rock star gets screwed bad! You want that karmic factor to come into play, like, if you're going to be a multimillionaire then you should have some pretty rough times. It's all 'Waah waah! We signed a bad contract!' – well you put your name on it, moron! And they're all bad contracts! It was brilliant fodder for my songwriting. I hope it gets on the radio and I hope it pisses a bunch of people off!"
With its mix of heartfelt songwriting, organic recording approach, and good old fashioned high spirits, "FAR FROM OVER" is marked by an authenticity and ingenuousness missing from too much modern music.
"It's become so corporate and formulaic," Edwin McCain bemoans. "It's not about art anymore, it's about commerce. I'm all for it, but you won't catch that stuff in my CD player with the Kevn Kinney and Hüsker Dü.
"I've always kind of fancied myself to hopefully have a career kind of like Steve Earle's. Everyone respects the songwriting, there's no pretension and it's just about music. F*** all the other stuff."