Indie Visible: Music in Headphones
Music In Headphones Executive Producer Liner Notes I wanted to give my take on a lot of what went into this record because of the huge amount of work that so many people did and do to make this work for a small school in Memphis to pull off quality independent rock. First thanks to my co-executive producer Matthew Temple, Music Business faculty extraordinaire, and primary producer for this, Kerry Kernan, who both worked so long and hard the Spring of 2005 to make this happen. Then comes Kirk Smith as second producer and the Artist Development Team who kicked this thing off, Wendy McMahon and Marina Strydom. Thanks to all the valuable input from this official team and from Sam Farries, who just made things work because he is Sam. Much love to all. Thank you Shane Flynn and Dave Kropf for wrapping up the artwork like pros! Special thanks to the little big man Jerod Wilson for a great jump off the speaker and Adam Simpson for capturing the moment! This record is special to me, as the President of a worship and music college that I dreamed up, which God has taken to heights I never imagined through amazing people beside me, and a 'former rock star' and songwriting teacher. I want to walk the listener through the toil and dreams of those behind the scenes and give some human interest to a collection of a dozen or so cuts from Visible School. 'Music in Headphones' - John Conklin John Conklin is our latest emerging artist from Visible School. This song was written for an assignment in my class in Fall 2004, using a metaphor that, while never actually making it into the song, did get the word 'metaphor' in the 'chorus'. Starting it's life as 'Out of America,' this song morphed under the wise hands of the Artists Development Team (ADT) at Visible Schoolin January and February 2005. John is so creative and listens and is flexible, too, a rare trait among those who really do hear entire songs in their head from the beginning. John is up on our list of next CD projects and a wonderful guy to represent Jesus Christ and Visible School. Thanks to the dynamic playing of Sam Weaver on here and Kerry's vision. 'Breakaway' - the beep the beep is my band. It is not common for college presidents to be in rock bands, especially those that continue to get picked for records for great songs beyond their shelf life, but I am proud of this song in particular and hope you all like it. The beep rarely performs, but the songs are indeed memorable. 'Breakaway' is the story of a girl who is freshly back with God and acts ready to take on the world again. My fear in the song is that she will breakaway from the fellowship of God and church as she does. I (we) try to pick up those pieces for our beloved wanderers, don't we? With three different keys and an old recording, hope you enjoy this treasure. 'I Believe' This song is special to me on this record because I worked with it from the very beginning, first as a song assignment in class, then with a vision to go 'euro-pop' with it, which was a stretch for me, Meisha, and Kirk. I think it turned out snappy and like the final version. I got to play a little guitar in the studio and Kirk got to play cut and splice with it. I like the very applicable topic with the background thought of how Christian girls can take a stand for a love that is much more real, to wait for a love that they can believe in, without being preachy about it. 'Phone Cry' - John Conklin This one is special to me on here because I championed it from the beginning and so much great work has gone into it. Great job, guys! John is at his best as he croons and intimates for his friend to listen to the hopeful message and overcome the tiredness of life to hear God calling. Not many songs grab you for being just beautiful friendship/relationship without being boy/girl googly stuff, so I appreciate John thinking through his advice and giving us a song that, CCM or mainstream, calls people to listen to the Lord and good friends and hold on. 'Mountain Top' I believe (pun) that this was Meisha's first song assignment of the year and everyone was stunned with the epic nature and nice high melody of this chorus - a winner from the start. This one went through a few conceptualizations and ended up in the band form captured here. Quite nice job done by all students and a great loud sound for Meisha. 'Still Listening' A last-minute add, this song has been a favorite of The American Radio fans for a couple of years. Nice thick mid-rangey guitars and a nice offbeat feel give me a chance to enjoy the deep thoughts of Aaron and crew. An anthem to someone you don't want to listen to anymore? A song for those wayward sons we all know? Enjoy the sound of the coming 'radio.' 'Something Beautiful' - Rich Riegel of The American Radio Rich is special to me and I am pumped to see his work finally getting recognized. With A great pop sensibility and a kingdom perspective for an indie rocker, Rich brings a twist and rich (pun intended) high melody to his work. Listen to these words and be moved to action. Thanks to Kirk for capturing and Kerry for finalizing on this one. I want what's left too, Rich, and I haven't given up on the world yet! As a worship leader and former intern of mine, I see Rich regularly and hope to see he and his wonderful wife Jenn succeed in all God has for them. 'Mr. Soundman' This song came literally to songwriting class as a sketchy idea but with a very nice hook. As Alexis grew throughout the year in structure and music training, this idea grew and Kirk took it under his wing from the beginning of the CD process. We wanted to capture Alexis' unique style and give her a little more basis to come out on the song. I appreciate the hard work that went into this, I got to play guitar again, and Neal funked it quite well, as usual. Hats off to Kirk and production stops and to the non-stop hiphop chick off the Arizona block to putting up props for the Memphis hood (in Lakeland). 'Falling into Me' - The American Radio The American Radio was the first legit band to form out of and after the VISIBLE SCHOOL experience. They are near to me because each of these guys really serve God with everything they do and they come together to make great music and share thoughtful messages of the kingdom. Though they have taken a hiatus, 2005 seems to be the year for a return under the direction and frontmanship of Rich Riegel, also appearing on his own on this record. Though the original form will always be remembered as getting it started, Rich's ability and desire to lead and front this band makes one expectant. 'Wait and See' I still remember hearing the demo of this song, much as it appears here, as an mp3 Rich made in early 2005. I love the closeness I have to the writer and singer as this songs message unfolds. II feel like Rich's communication of the universal language of people's inner hurts (and hopes) is special and worthy of a close listen. Thanks to the production team for capturing this moment unencumbered. 'Avalanche' Trevor brought this song early in the new year and it was immediately recognized for a great chorus and with some sting to it. We tried both band and acoustic versions and took the band version, with a little more umph to it and nice rendition of the musical pre-chorus. I love the symbolism of the avalanche being a positive thing, wiping out all the efforts and strivings we bring to the table and leaving a clean palette for God to work with. Trevor's band Fleeting gets kudos for this one coming off well in a pinch. 'Ah' This song defines the beep as it last stood and one possible future of modern rock. Is it emo, or modern worship in a true sense, or something else? It is haunting if nothing else. Described as an invitation to listen to the Holy Spirit calling you, believer or not, Ah gives the audience a melody to really hang onto, and at nearly eight minutes, it states and restates the point clearly. I love Chris' bass sound (Travis Bean) and shouts go out to engineer and mix engineer David Langemann in South Africa. I had to sneak the raw tracks into a music festival on a hard drive to catch David on a trip through the states to get him the material to work with. It was the one song not recorded at Visible School for this CD. Again, thanks to the whole community at Visible School, the songs that almost made it, and will probably be out next year, and all the past and future students of the greatest school on earth! Ken Steorts President Visible School - Music and Worship Arts College.