John Mellencamp may record new album with his classic 80's band

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by IndyTodd, Jun 22, 2010.

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  1. IndyTodd

    IndyTodd Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Fishers, Indiana

    Larry Crane heads to Indiana with album, Mellencamp band news
    Posted by Rob Nichols on Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 12:04 PM

    Not only does Larry Crane bring a new solo record back to Indiana this week, the former John Mellencamp guitar player may soon be prepping a return to the studio with John and the band.

    Saturday night’s show at Bloomington’s Buskirk-Chumley Theater promotes the Florida-living Crane’s new album Tropical Depression, and is a chance for reconnection for those who might have lost track of Crane, either when he left Mellencamp, or eventually, the state.

    "The show will be a storyteller's-type vibe,” Larry says. "I will have my guitar player Tony Burton, with me. And then I'll throw in a few surprises towards the end.”

    Back with Mellencamp
    As he talks from his Sarasota home, Crane also says the old Mellencamp band may take a stab at creating music as a unit again, 20 years after they ceased making together — other than the subdued Big Daddy record - shortly after the 1987 Lonesome Jubilee tour ended.

    If not the creator or co-creator, Crane is at the very least the man who helped form Mellencamp's snarling, rootsy, aggressive guitar attack, on record and on stage.

    "When we did Uh-Huh (in 1983), we did it really quickly," Larry says. "John is thinking about going back to that vibe."

    At the core of the band was Larry, Mike Wanchic, Kenny Aronoff and Toby Myers. They ripped, rocked and toured with John through his transformation from John Cougar to Mellencamp, playing the songs of American Fool, Uh-Huh, Scarecrow, and Lonesome Jubilee, the four career-defining records of Mellencamp's catalog.

    "I had mixed emotions about it when they first asked me", Larry says about getting back together. "But I got to thinking about it, and thought 'Wow. You know what? It might be time'".

    Going into the Studio for Uh-Huh
    What probably won’t happen is a creation of a copy of the studio setup they used to make the in-your-face, rootsy rock of Uh-Huh.

    “We did it in a temporary studio. We brought this mobile sound track from Miami, took all the stuff out of it, put it in a house, recorded the album, then put all the stuff back in the truck and it went back to Miami,” Crane laughs. "It was pretty much a nightmare for (producer) Don Gehman.

    "We started talking at the beginning of this year, and John's been busy so it's a matter of getting it slotted in,” Crane says of talks to get everyone back into a studio. “Kenny keeps a pretty busy schedule. The easiest guys to corral would be Mike and Toby. They both still live right there in Bloomington. And Kenny lives in Bloomington but he's all over the place all the time.”

    If you listen back to those records cut with these guys, especially on Uh-Huh, it's a Stones screw-ya attitude, and just plain ol' baddass snarling guitars and cracking, slamming drums. Could magic remain for a group - other than bandleader Wanchic - that went different directions as the 90's dawned?

    "Right around the time between American Fool and the Uh-Huh album, me and Kenny really sort of started clicking as a pair, because I'm mainly a rhythm guitar player - obviously not one of these acrobatic soloist guys,” Crane admits. “That was a great time, because that's when the band really started the gel.

    Using a Legend to Make Sure their **** Works
    Just before the band recorded Uh-Huh, Larry remembers they did a record with Mitch Ryder with the same studio setup, for his Never Kick A Sleeping Dog album.

    It was a record that benefited from Mellecamp (and the band's) status at the time, if not helping it sell albums (which it didn’t much), at least aiding in getting a 60's rock legend to make a rock and roll record in Indiana.

    "When we set up that studio, we did two albums. We started to use (Mitch) to see if the studio worked,” Larry chuckles. “We have Mitch Ryder and all these wonderful musicians coming in and out of this house that's just outside of Brownstown.

    "His bass player is on it. And his keyboard player came. We'd go down to Brock's Diner, this little place where everybody has breakfast and lunch. “

    Recording Tropical Depression
    Crane's new album contains bouts of solid roots rock - similar to the sounds and songs Crane released in the '90s. "What Billy Wants" is one of the album's best, an Americana anthem that dates back to older live shows, while the opening cut "Once You Love" was a song Crane originally wrote with Steve Earle.

    Crane flew back to Indiana to record the new album, a Telecaster-driven, Middle America slice of rock, a sound he’s mined since his Eye for an Eye debut 20 years ago.

    His two most recent records, Wire and Wood and the Tropical Depression, have been built with an addition of acoustic and country influences.

    "Everything that I've ever recorded solo has been done at what used to be called TRC Studios, with Alan Johnson. Now it's called Static Shack, owned by (Bob & Tom's) Tom Griswold.

    "I did pretty much all the guitars - it was a quick album. We knocked it out in like ten days. Turns out it was the ten coldest days in January in Indiana,” Crane says. “I said, ‘Hey guys, you didn't have to do this for my benefit. I remember what winter feels like.’ But it was a fun record to make - we had a great time."

    Living in the Sunshine
    Crane, who started going to Florida with his current wife, has settled into his southern life and neighborhood.

    "I'm very interested in boats and fishing and I was coming down here quite a bit,” he says of Florida. “We wanted to move down here while I'm still young enough to enjoy it - get out fish and all that.

    “We're just in a ‘Leave it to Beaver’ sort of neighborhood,” Larry says. “I like the peace and quiet - ‘Oh, we got a rock and roll guitar player moved in next door’ they might say. Well, I'm like the quietest neighbor you could ever have."

    After initially moving a decade ago, Crane was still commuting back to Indiana on a monthly basis. He’d put together two weeks of band gigs and fly home, leaving a complete set of gear in Indiana so he didn't have to fly any equipment back and forth.

    “Over time, I started meeting musicians down here,” Larry says. “There was a club called the 5 O'Clock Club here in town and they have an open mic - kind of a blues jam every Monday night. Guys were stopping by: Brian Johnson from AC/DC. There was a guy who was Freddie King's guitar player. And Dickie Betts.

    It’s led to Crane booking solo shows in Florida, including regular trips to the Florida Keys.

    Beyond any Mellencamp band reformation travels, Crane will be also coming back to Indiana this fall for shows booked at the Monroe County Fall Festival and Hope Festival.

    How A (Punk) Band Returned
    We start talking about Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes’ new album Pills and Ammo, and then the virtues of an old punk band that came back around with a recent album.

    "The New York Dolls had a really good album a year or so ago," Larry says. "It's a little slicker than the old stuff, but I've always been a big fan of David Johansen and all those guys,” he says. “They were some of my idols when I was growing up - Johnny Thunders and all that.

    "I got to see them play in New York where we first started with John, and were going to New York quite a bit. And I'd always go down to the CBGB's or Max's Kansas City and check those guys out, because that's whose licks I grew up playing.”

    Larry likes a new album by an old punk band? You hope that feeling melds into what could be (nothing’s ever official until the press release is issued, right?) a new album from one, long-lost Indiana rock band. Do years apart lead to a sense of poignancy - and desire to reconnect - with what once was, even as everyone has successfully moved on? And can it lead to vibrant music?

    "Me and John had a punk band when I was still in high school and John was just out of college," Crane remembers. "“Those were the days - I was like 16 and John was five years older than me. We rented this big farmhouse outside of Seymour and I got there after school and we'd practice. I played a lot of old New York Dolls stuff.

    “It's a wonder I can still hear at all"

    WFHB Welcomes Larry Crane w/ special guest Tim Grimm / Friday, June 18 - 08:00 PM / Buskirk - Chumley Theater / $12 advance, $15 DOS / 114 E. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, IN / PHONE: (812) 323 3020
  2. IndyTodd

    IndyTodd Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Fishers, Indiana
    I would be curious to see how this comes out if it happens. Saw Toby Myers (Mellencamp's bassist from about 1982-2001) last night in the lobby before the Jeff Beck show here in Indy but didn't get a chance to ask him about a reunion of the Mellencamp band.

    Larry Crane and Mellencamp had a lot of bad blood between them for a long time so he's been the one person I would have seen maybe not agreeing to do this. If he's in for it then I'm sure it will happen as long as Mellencamp decides to do it.

    I think Larry Crane added maybe more musically to John's work than John wants to acknowledge. Kenny Aronoff is one of the greatest drummers in the world.

    I thought that Mellencamp's band at his peak was as good as anyone's out there at the time.
  3. agentalbert

    agentalbert Forum Resident

    San Antonio, TX
    Getting Kenny Aranoff back is reason enough for me to have high hopes for this. Great drummer.
  4. eelkiller

    eelkiller Technically right but still wrong

    Great news - (regarding the new Larry Crane album)
  5. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    IIRC he's been backing John Fogerty for the last few years, including the Mellencamp/Fogerty double bill tour from a couple of years back. I'm curious if they discussed this back then.
  6. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
  7. IndyTodd

    IndyTodd Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Fishers, Indiana
    Kenny played with John for the first time in a long time at the Obama concert at the Lincoln Memorial as part of the inaugural weekend. Also, I know for a fact that Kenny Aronoff was at John's New Year's Eve party this past year so it appears they are on pretty good terms.

    Honestly, I don't Kenny really ever wanted to stop playing with John but didn't want to accept John's demand of being available most of the time rather than off doing studio sessions and other tours. Kenny seems like he's always been open to playing with Mellencamp again.

    Larry Crane is a much bigger surprise as he was very bitter for a long time. He didn't feel that he got the credit he felt he deserved in helping craft Mellencamp's sound. I've always felt that Crane fit into that category of a guy that maybe didn't do what it took to get a writing credit on a song but the artist's sound owed a lot to them being in the band. Unfortunately, there isn't a royalty for that.
  8. HappyJack

    HappyJack Forum Resident

    Pennsylvania, USA
    I saw Kenny playing with John Fogerty a few years back. He can make an average band sound great. He's one of the best rock and roll drummers out there. Would love to see him play with John Mellencamp and the rest of the crew.
  9. musicalbeds

    musicalbeds Strange but not a stranger

    Ontario, Canada
    I never really followed the band break up, so I had no idea why I haven't really listened to JCM since Lonesome Jubilee...but now I know; Crane was the influence that was missing.
    Either that or it's coincidence.
  10. JA Fant

    JA Fant Well-Known Member

    It would be great to see JCM team up w/ Kenny again!
  11. stever

    stever Forum Resident

    Omaha, Nebr.
    Love to hear another album from JM's classic 80s band. I plan to see him with Bob Dylan in August.
  12. J_D__

    J_D__ Forum Resident

    Mooresville, NC
    I would love to hear something new from these guys and a tour as well :)
  13. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    Glad to see all the love for Crane, I always thought his contributions weren't recognized enough. A lot of people I know focused on Lisa, but that was obvious. I think almost any talented fiddler would've worked in his band.
  14. bartels76

    bartels76 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Thank god! I'm over his Americana/folk crap. Sorry to be blunt.
  15. GregK

    GregK Forum Resident

    Baltimore, MD
    I'd be more excited for a reunion of the Lonesome Jubilee band (which, I guess this band is, plus a few additional musicians)
  16. eelkiller

    eelkiller Technically right but still wrong

    Isn't the keyboard player from that era John Cascella dead?

    I like his solo material better than later JCM albums. Crane's Independance day is a classic unheard track which would have fit beautifully on the vintage Mellencamp albums.
  17. stumpy

    stumpy Forum Resident

    South of Nashville
    Kenny was just at Bonnaroo backing up Fogerty.
  18. IndyTodd

    IndyTodd Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Fishers, Indiana

    John Cascella died of a heart attack in the early 90's. I attended a tribute show/fundraiser for Cascella's kids that Mellencamp and a lot of other local musicians put on a few months after Cascella passed away.
  19. Jackson

    Jackson Forum Resident

    MA, USA
    Yeah it's not KISS. :rolleyes: :help:
  20. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Forum Resident

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Saw John "Cougar" open for Heart back in the early '80s - helluva great show, he did'nt have enough of his own material so hid did some Stones and Humble Pie covers. Got on his guitar player's shoulders during one song. Heart were in their prime, those ladys rocked!
  21. CusBlues

    CusBlues Fort Wayne’s Favorite Son

    I saw the same show. Unfortunately, Heart was in decline commercially, and a lot of people left after "Cougar". And Chris is right, they rocked. As did "Cougar". A great show.
  22. trainspotter

    trainspotter New Member

    Sydney Australia
    Yes Please.
    I miss old JCM's 80's band.
  23. James Glennon

    James Glennon Forum Resident

    Dublin, Ireland
    I don't want anybody to take offence, but I can't stand Kenny's his drumming. Didn't like him on the Mellancamp albums and didn't like him on the Fogerty albums. He's just not the type of drummer I like.

  24. Indy500

    Indy500 Forum Resident

    Rehearsals are starting early for the gig at the 2012 Super Bowl I guess.

    DJ WILBUR The Cappuccino Kid

    the Lonesome Jubilee shows were some of the finest of anyone's I'd ever seen.

    I love what he's doing now and looking forward to the Rounder release, but man, would love to see one of those big fun rocking party shows....
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