Though I missed the date technically by two days, a year ago The Thermal Detonators put out our first band collaboration This Mess with Nova Labs. Jordan Mayland & The Thermal Detonators was always supposed to be a side-project solo effort, but a few pals in the music scene were instrumental in turning it into something more: Dave Atchison/Drums, Frank McBroom/Bass, Sean Huston/Guitar, Claire Kruesel/Glockenspiel, and Paul Hertz/Piano/Trombone.
We probably played together for about five years before we put This Mess out, and a lot of that had to do with me being so busy in other projects. Actually, at the time of our formation I was putting outI Wrote It All Down with Nova Labs. Phil Young had recorded most of IWIAD with me, doing chunks at a time when we got around to it while we lived together in Ames. Even though I had done the instrumentation on the album, a few friends had mentioned that they’d be happy to sit in during a few live shows, so I took them up on it and we started playing bigger and bigger shows pretty much immediately. I will always be thankful and grateful to Maximum Ames for inviting us to open up for the legendary rock and roll group The Zombies in 2013. Most of our set included songs from the yet to be recorded album This Mess, and we continued to play those songs for years to come, slowly adding a few tunes here and there.
In December of 2014 we started work on This Mess at The Spacement with Bryon Dudley, who also runs the Ames based label Nova Labs with his wife, Rachel. Even though I had moved to Des Moines by that point, I wanted to do the album in Ames because most of the members of the group lived there and that is sort of where I felt the soul of the band existed. I also liked the idea of recording this album in the Winter, as I wanted it to feel and sound cold. Though, it certainly took more than a season to record it. We put it out more than two years after the beginning sessions, but these thing sometimes take a while, and again I was busy very busy with some other musical projects…Not to mention I got married in 2015, and life continued to move. I’m thankful to the band for being patient and ready to jump back in whenever we got to it. I felt that I owed them this album, even though we didn’t play many shows after we released it. We sort of worked backwards as a band. We played big shows at the beginning, played for about five years, recorded and released our album, and pretty much stopped after that.
The recording process was easy going. Bryon and I put an emphasis on having fun, even though some of the songs were somewhat dark or serious. I was big on making things sound weird and interesting. I liked the idea of a big cold wind of reverb swirling around the album. It was easy to switch moods and tap into the vibe of the different songs. Dave and I did a lot of the original first takes live with no click, and then he actually learned a couple tunes during the first sessions. On the newer songs to him we worked with a click and built the tune around the scratch track. Frank came in pretty early into the recording process and nailed down most of his bass work pretty easily as well. Gradually the rest of the band came in to put their individual parts in, and then we had a few group vocal sessions as well. I must also include a big thank you to Tom Russell for allowing Bryon and I to come into his cool workshop with his beautiful grand piano and record most of the piano parts there. We also had a great string session with my incredibly talented friend and co-worker Dang Felton (Viola) and my pal Becca Park (Cello). I ended up doing most of the parts on the songs “This Mess,” “Please Comfort Me,” and “I Want the World to Know” but the album was definitely The Thermal Detonators as a group, pulling from all of these different directions, styles, personalities, and strengths.
We don’t have plans on playing shows anytime soon, and for the time being it will remain that way, but I did want to take a moment and reflect on the group, the recording process, and this album on the one year anniversary of the release. Cheers to Frank McBroom, Paul Hertz, Sean Huston, Claire Kruesel, Dave Atchison, Bryon Dudley, Rachel Dudley, Tom Russell, Nate Logsdon, Maximum Ames, Becca Park, Dang Felton, John Huffman (cover art) and Anne Rice.