I used to have a steady Monday night jazz gig on Mercer street in Soho. Organ trio. It was the kind of place where Wall Street types came for a dose of "good for you" music before throwing 35 cents in the tip jar and running home to check their daily winnings. The place was owned by a depressive Israeli guy who looked like he was gonna hang himself at any moment; Hopefully he never did. Occasionally I'd use a bass player when the organ player couldn't make it and so Byron & I have been making music for a long time. But Jazz wasn't for me. I had much to prove & little to say which is boring as hell to anyone listening. So we started writing our own music. We played together as much as we could. Sounded great. Even had a pop/rock group so badly named I shan't repeat it here. But our other musical endeavors kept our collaboration against the boards. Byron started Ollabelle with some great musicians in the East Village. T-Bone Burnett signed them to Columbia Records and they were off on the road with Ryan Adams and Diana Krall and god knows who else. Great ride. As soon as they had some breaks in their schedule my band signed on with a BMG distributed label. It was owned by a guy who made his money liquidating companies (in acid). We used to meet him in his $1600/per night suite at The Plaza so he could tell us how tight the budget was to promote our record. He was eventually sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison for money laundering. We did some very strange tours. One opening for Dave Davies from The Kinks (a real hero but a truly weird guy. Aliens. That's all I'm gonna say) and one sponsored by a rum company from Barbados. (Alcohol sponsored tour - say no more.) We got lot's of T.V. licensing though. Had 4 songs on Dawson's Creek and more on MTV's Road Rules, Real World, The Young and The Restless, E! Wild On Hollywood etc etc etc. There are new shows I've never even heard of using some of those songs. Eventually Byron and I got to make a record called "Lowdowners in Stereo" (still unreleased) in a studio located directly below Sonic Youth's rehearsal room. If you solo the drum overhead mics on some of the songs you can hear them howling. Someday that record will be worth something. The singer from my band split and moved to California and bought the amazing Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace. Lucinda Williams played her opening night show.
By this point Byron was playing bass with Levon Helm and was around for those truly inspiring last years. He even wrote a song on the Dirt Farmer record. It won a Grammy. He also played on the follow up record Electric Dirt. Wrote a song on that one as well and it won a Grammy (sense a pattern?). By this point we also had new songs that justified pushing other things aside for our collaboration. Get it off the boards. Byron brought the ethereal beauty "The LIne The Lie", the bar-room stomp "Keeping Busy Feeling Fine" and the psychedelic majesty "Miracle Mile". I came up with the cynically folky "I'm Gonna Win", the hooky rocker "Thin Walls" (which sounds like Squeeze to me but I don't know why) and the darkly optimistic "Never Too Late". These were songs worth working for. We made a new record. A new band. A new point of view. A new layer of skin. Lot's of folks from the Levon camp helped out. Justin Guip played drums, engineered it & helped us produce it, Brian Mitchell played some organ, Clark Gayton and Jay Collins gave us some badass horns. Larry Campbell even gave it his blessing ("Byron, you & Peter got some Everly Brothers shit going on..."). We recorded it at Levon's which is a church of sorts. You get the same feeling you get in any cathedral. We played The Midnight Ramble with Levon the summer before he died. The record will come out this year (2014). All of this tale is in there. We named our new project Lost Leaders. It just seemed appropriate. Now you know why.