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MP3 Brian McAlonie - Naked Scuba Boy
A gifted singer / songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who twists pop, rock, and country. With a dozen tunes, in styles recalling the 60''s and merging into the 21st Century.
12 MP3 Songs
ROCK: Acoustic, POP: Folky Pop
Brian McAlonie is a gifted singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who first stepped into the spotlight as founding member of Made In Austria and Box of Red, two bands that effectively twisted pop, rock and country music for their own original purposes. As drummer and vocalist, McAlonie recorded five well-received CDs with these popular New York-based bands before striking out on his own in the late 90s to devote his energies to songwriting. With the 2003 release of his first solo project, Naked Scuba Boy, McAlonie assumes a leadership role and the transformation suits him as he displays his talents as singer, acoustic guitarist and harmonica player. Directly personal, Naked Scuba Boy''s guitar-driven rock-infused music draws you in and McAlonie''s insightful lyrics seal the deal.
McAlonie came early to music. He grew up surrounded by his uncles, the Mastren Brothers, Carmen (rhythm guitar), Al (trombone) and Johnny (bass). "My uncles toured and recorded with Glenn Miller, Johnny Hartman, Chubby Checker - when you listen to the original recording of ''The Twist,'' you''ll hear Uncle Johnny playing bass - and even backed up the Marx Brothers and The Three Stooges," he recalls. "I started playing drums at age 13, and it was the thrill of my life when they let me sit in with them. My Uncle Carm played with Woody Allen at Michael''s Pub in NYC each week - in fact, the night Woody won an Academy Award for Annie Hall, he didn''t attend the ceremonies because he had a gig with my Uncle Carm." McAlonie taught himself to play drums by listening to the radio, playing along with recordings and watching performances on TV. "I wanted to play rock but didn''t have the patience for the rudiments, the rigidity, of lessons," he admits.
In college near Buffalo, NY, McAlonie founded Made In Austria, featuring himself on drums, and sharing vocals and songwriting with other band members; they released three CDs, Big American Music, Ed''s Barber Shop and Two Cows South, the latter co-produced by John Lombardo (10,000 Maniacs, John & Mary). MIA performed up and down the east coast (Toronto, Washington D.C., Chapel Hill, NC and in Athens, GA, highlighted by NYC gigs at CBGB''s, The Bitter End and The Knitting Factory) sharing the bill with 10,000 Maniacs, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, The Del-Lords and The Subdudes, among others. Following the break-up of MIA, McAlonie soon formed a new alternative rock-pop quintet, Box of Red, which released two CDs, The Stillwell Sessions and Architecture of Secrecy, inspiring critical acclaim such as "the kind of intelligent, sophisticated pop sorely missing from today''s airwaves and album charts......sterling musicianship" (Jim Catalano, Ithaca) and "a band to watch" (Buffalo News).
Naked Scuba Boy was produced by producer, arranger and drummer, Gary Burke. The two musicians met a few years back when Burke produced several songs on McAlonie''s third Made In Austria release, and forged an enduring relationship. "Gary''s a songwriter''s drummer," says McAlonie, noting Burke''s extensive touring and recording credits with Joe Jackson, Bob Dylan, Shania Twain, Graham Parker, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and many more top-tier artists. "Gary brought a sage''s sensibility to the record," McAlonie adds. "Since Naked Scuba Boy was the first time in my career I wasn''t playing with an established band, Gary hand-selected a group of respected, seasoned musicians to compliment my voice, acoustic guitar work, and most importantly, my songwriting." The result, an engaging hybrid of modern and traditional rock, is energized yet unaffected.
With a dozen tunes, in styles recalling the 60s and merging into the 21st century, Naked Scuba Boy captures the sound of an earlier era in a contemporary setting. "We recorded almost everything using vintage analog studio gear," says McAlonie. "The result, strangely, is a fresh sounding record."
Burke, who plays drums, percussion and occasional piano and synthesizer on Naked Scuba Boy, called upon bassists Tom "T-Bone" Wolk (Hall & Oates, Saturday Night Live Band) and Graham Maby (Joe Jackson, Natalie Merchant) to round out the rhythmic bottom end with him. In addition, he tapped Aaron "Professor Louie" Hurwitz (The Crowmatix, The Band, Mercury Rev) to contribute gospel, blues-infused Hammond B-3 organ, accordion, and synthesizer. Daniel Goodwin (Carla Werner, Murder By Death, P-Funk), dubbed "the ambientologist," supplies distinctive guitar alchemy to the mix, and veteran rocker Greg Kroll provided additional lyrics. "All of these musicians were phenomenal to work with," says McAlonie. "My concept for each tune was really enhanced by their sensitivity and focus. It was truly exhilarating to hear what each of these players brought to my songs, and an even bigger thrill to play with musicians I grew up listening to and looking up to. It was a great life experience."
Although McAlonie originally planned to record a five-song demo, the chemistry among the musicians was so favorable that he ended up recording a full CD. The title cut, a haunting warning to modern man, was inspired by a diving excursion with friends in the Fiji Islands. It''s followed by "Where The Wild Things Go," an upbeat homage to a favorite book by Maurice Sendak, one of two nods to favorite writers, the other being "Tell-Tale Heart," inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.
McAlonie''s spare arrangement of "Catch The Wind" gives an updated take on the tune made famous by Donovan. And four tunes - "Halo," "Through The Darkness," "Christopher Columbus" and "Not Lookin'' Back" - come directly from McAlonie''s eight-year practice of martial arts, an important key to the heart of the album. "Practicing Kung Fu has had a really big influence on my life," he reveals. "It''s forced me to embark upon a path of self-discovery and look inward to learn more about who I am." He admits looking in the mirror can be intimidating at times, "it puts you face-to face with yourself - the good and the bad." He continues, "This journey of self-evaluation changes who you are as person as you learn how to accept your faults and weaknesses and explore ways to adapt to and overcome them." He professes, "In the end, you learn you do have the ability to change and make an impact on your own life." As a result, this integration of mind, body, and spirit directly impacted McAlonie''s decision to make Naked Scuba Boy.
Whether putting to rest an old romance ("Never Meant to Be"), suffering through heartache ("Unchain My Heart") or wooing a new love in "Heart of Gold," McAlonie''s lyrics strike a note that''s true and heartfelt. And "Hush" is perhaps one of the best tunes ever written to mend a lovers quarrel.
Though both of McAlonie''s earlier bands attracted a loyal fan base and earned well-deserved comparisons to R.E.M., Squeeze, The Byrds, Crowded House and others, with the release of Naked Scuba Boy, he fulfills a lifelong dream of recording a disc of his own songs in his own way.
"I learned to play acoustic guitar so I could write songs," says McAlonie. "After I saw a pile of songs on my table, I knew it was time to go do it."