Sam Davis ’10 walked into the Daily Grind and tossed a colorful, plastic-covered album onto the table. The other members of his band, Kinetic, exhaled with excitement, grinning from ear to ear: it was the first time they had seen their new album.
Kinetic whose members met at the College of William and Mary, recently released their debut album, “Get Your Heavy Load Off My Pack Mule.” They played a promotional concert in Lodge 1 April 8, during which they sold the first copies of their album. The album was officially released today and is available on iTunes and at their website www.kineticinyourears.com.
Kinetic is comprised of guitarist Davis, lead singer Jeff DeMars ’11, bassist Joe Palamara ’11, pianist Ryan Laney ’11 and drummer Andy Principe ’10. Since they graduated last year, Davis and Principe have been living and working in Washington, D.C. as the other three members finish their degrees at the College. The group began recording their album at the end of the last school year.
“Laying down the initial tracks was the most fun,” said Davis. “It was after finals and before my graduation, and we just sat around, [hanging out] and playing music.”
Band members debated at length about where to record. They considered Ewell Hall or Earl Gregg Swem Library’s media center, but finally settled on, as their website claims, “the cramped confines of a college bedroom.”
“Before starting, we encountered challenges with how to record,” Laney said. “We decided to just do something crazy and use our rooms.”
Kinetic is currently unsigned with a record label, so every aspect of the album was under the band’s control. They found this to be both a blessing and a curse.
“We did everything on our own,” DeMars said. “Not being signed means you have to take care of the business side, too, not just playing music.”
An artist working independent of a label has extra work to do, in taking on the many aspects of producing an album that a record company usually handles. Davis took care of legal issues while Laney produced and mixed the tracks. The band then sent the tracks to a company for mastering. A company also printed the CDs for them; otherwise, the band did it alone.
Producing and mixing the tracks independently meant a lot of painstaking work for Laney.
“We had to pay lots of attention to detail, rearrange a lot of parts,” Laney said. “I did all of the mixing and production, and had to deal with all the little details, and it was just so tedious.”
Perfectionism played its part in the making of “Get Your Heavy Load Off My Pack Mule.” Each member of the band had moments during which only the best was going to be good enough.
“One part of one song I made kind of difficult,” Palamara said. “I knew I could do it, but it was hard. I spent two hours just trying to play a 15-second segment. I’m not so much of a perfectionist as Ryan and Jeff, though.”
The band found this perfectionism could be both helpful, but a hindrance at times as well.
“Yeah, there were times when everyone would play something and I’d just be like, ‘No,’” said Laney. “Usually perfectionism is productive, but there were moments when we disagreed.”
Despite the “cramped confines” and constraints of perfectionism, the band members agreed that they were overwhelmingly pleased with the results of their labor.
“The fine-tuning of certain songs was a nitpicky process, but as we went the song would get better and better, so it was rewarding,” Davis said.
Palamara and DeMars said their favorite part of the recording process was seeing the tracks develop as the members worked on them.
“You start with raw music and continue to add to it,” DeMars said. “[I liked] seeing the music progress as it got better and better as we mixed and added more.”
After this year, with their album out and college degrees under their belts, Palamara, Laney, and DeMars plan to relocate to D.C. with Davis and Principe so they can continue to make music. They all plan to work day jobs to support themselves while continuing to write songs. Davis also mentioned going on an East Coast tour.
“We’ll figure out how to support ourselves,” Davis said. “If [making music] is enough [to live on], I would love that.”
Band members say that the album is better than anything they expected. Each member has different hopes for the album: Laney wants listeners “to love it,” and Palamara wants to “make people need to [dance].”
“I want people to be able to identify with it,” Davis said. “We have so many different influences and different sounds, but it all comes together. If just one song speaks to one person, that’s success.”