By Michael Lello
CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. – Even the hardest-hearted cynic had to recognize the authenticity in the room Saturday at Studio 4 – even though the catalyst was a fundraising effort.
Seventy-five fans filled the studio space for a unique opportunity to see two of their favorite artists, Anthony Green of Circa Survive, and Tigers Jaw, in a decidedly small and — while it’s a word that’s thrown around too much — intimate space. Both Green and Scranton-based Tigers Jaw are part of the upcoming Will Yip “Off The Board: A Studio 4 Compilation” album, which was hatched as part of an effort for Yip to raise money toward buying into the studio, known for producer Phil Nicolo and his work with the likes of everyone from Billy Joel and Bob Dylan to The Fugees.
“The original idea with the comp and stuff was to just help with like a Kickstarter, but obviously it became a lot more than that,” Yip told Highway 81 Revisited after the performances and the fans had trickled out onto Fayette Street. “It became just something that our family of bands just wanted to do together. And honestly, how much could the comp make? A recording studio like this costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a comp doesn’t cover that at all.
“But it was something special that I really wanted to make. But, again, it became bigger than the fundraiser once we were doing it, because we all realized, every band was like, ‘This is fuckin’ cool.’ Before that it was like, ‘We’ll do B-sides.’ . . . Every band stepped up and has done something that I don’t think has ever been done before, like everything being done in the same studio for the same purpose and with this caliber of rock bands.”
Saturday’s event — $80 ticket price included a recording of Green’s performance, “Off The Board” on vinyl, a T-shirt and a commemorative print – kicked off with an acoustic set from Tigers Jaw’s Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins. The stripped-down performance included songs from Tigers Jaw’s upcoming album, which they recorded with Yip at Studio 4, as well as longtime fan favorites like “I Saw Water.”
“Thank you very much for being so quiet,” Walsh said before introducing the song “Jimmy Piersall,” which featured Collins on lead vocals. “It’s kind of weird, but it helps.”
“I’m so much more nervous in this setting,” Collins said after the song, “but I feel this record is better than anything we’ve ever done because we did it with Will.”
Green began his set with accompaniment from Walsh and Collins. Green, who recently recorded a solo album at Studio 4, began his performance with “The More You Get, The Less You Are,” which he wrote for the comp. After a big cheer, Green hugged Walsh before singing the emotionally intense “Blood Song” from his 2012 solo album. Green exhorted the listeners to sing along to a wordless “ahh” segment of the song.
“Loud. Real loud! Louder! I want the people eating salads to hear you sing,” he said, referring to the patrons in the Great American Pub, which shares the building with the studio.
Other highlights of Green’s set included “Rips You Apart,” played to satisfy an attendee’s request, and a cover of Deftones’ “Diamond Eyes.”
In addition to Philadelphia’s Green and Tigers Jaw, “Off The Board” will include songs by Kingston, Pa.’s Title Fight, Daylight, Circa Survive, Polar Bear Club, Citizen, Light Years, Sainthood Reps, Koji, None More Black, Turnover, Pity Sex, Man Overboard and Balance and Composure.
“It was all the bands that I cared about that I recorded the last couple years. . . . It’s a family compilation, and that’s it,” Yip said. “It’s not about favoritism, it’s not about trying to blow it up. There’s a few bands I could’ve contacted that I recorded one session for, who could have helped sell a few more records, but it’s not about that. It’s about these are my best friends. Every band on that comp are my friends. I will go to every one of their weddings, and they will be invited to mine. That’s what this comp is about, a family.
“And that’s how I make records. I never care about anything else other than making records with my best friends. That’s been my mindset my entire life. I don’t care what anyone thinks about the records, other than the people that I make them with. That’s who I make the records for, is for the people that I’m working with, not for kids to listen to. That’s important, because we care so much about that, kids are going to respect it and like it.”
The two Northeastern Pa. bands – Tigers Jaw and Title Fight – figure prominently into not only “Off The Board,” but also Yip’s career in general.
“Title Fight, they’re one, if not the most, important band that have ever been in my life, them and Blacklisted are the two bands, if I owe my career to anyone, it would be Blacklisted and Title Fight,” he said. “But they came in here because they loved the Blacklisted album that I did. I offered them demos one day, because I was recording Jamie (Rhoden’s) little brother’s band, so that’s how that small connection started. The next day the guys came in, this was way before ‘Shed,’ and we did demos. And then they were looking for a place, thinking about a new record, doing their first full-length, they were like, ‘These demos are good, this just makes sense now.’ So we did the full-length, and that just bloomed.’
“Because of them, other bands in that area were like, ‘Oh man.’ Hence Tigers Jaw came to me, and I love that band. When I first got a manager, he asked me what bands do you want to work with, and Tigers Jaw was at the top of the list; I love those guys. Ben called me and asked me to do the record, and I said, ‘Hell yeah, let’s do it.’ So basically with the Wilkes-Barre stuff, it seeded from Title Fight.”
“Off The Board: A Studio 4 Family Compilation” will be released Oct. 8 in various formats. For more information on the project, visit http://offtheboardcomp.com/.
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