The Dictators’ bassist knows of what he speaks. By Blurt Staff
There’s a four song EP by Andy (aka “Adny”) Shernoff, “On The First Day, Man Created God,” due out Feb. 11. Shernoff needs no introduction, but for those who walked in late: He is best known as the songwriter and bassist for the great New York punk band, The Dictators. His songs have been covered by Dion, Mary Weiss of the Shangri-las and The Ramones and he has had some mainstream success with Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom. In 2010 he sang “California Sun” for the official promotional video of the Major League Baseball All Star game.
This is his second solo EP and while it’s very different musically, it displays the same irreverent humor and catchy songwriting that made the Dictators so popular. The lyrics were inspired by Andy’s interest in the conflict between religious and secular values in a changing world. It led to him performing at the Reason Rally on the National Mall in Washington DC in 2012 with Bill Maher and Eddie Izzard.
What do Blue Coupe and Drivin’ N’ Cryin have in common?…..They both had the smarts to use Andy Shernoff songs on their new CD’s.
Supernatural Love- Blue Coupe
Blue Coupe is comprised of musicians Albert and Joe Bouchard from the Blue Oyster Cult and Dennis Dunaway from Alice Cooper. As a budding young rocker I listened to to both those bands incessantly, worshiping their records but more importantly assimilating their songwriting craft which helped me establish the standards I aspire to in my own writing. I was thrilled when Albert Bouchard asked me to collaborate on a tune for the new Blue Coupe record.
We sat in my home studio one evening throwing ideas back and forth until we had a few chord changes and a melody we both liked. I kept hearing the phrase Supernatural Love in the chorus, so we parted that evening with chord changes and a title. A day or two later Albert came up with the first lyrical draft and again we went back and forth a few times until I felt I needed clarification as to exactly what we were writing about. Albert said he was thinking about Helen Wheels, our dear friend who left this world tragically in 2000. At that moment the skies parted and all the lyrics flowed into place. I even wanted to sub-title the song “Helen’s Tune”.
Helen Wheels is a footnote in the history of New York rock but a woman whose legend looms large for those who knew her and her accomplishments… She was a songwriter with numerous songs covered by the Blue Oyster Cult, she was one of the first women to lead a band in the CBGB’s era and she was a competitive bodybuilder long before women were a force in that sport. Helen left a strong, powerful, feminist legacy but will always be remembered for her heart of gold by those who loved her. Supernatural Love is about how Albert and I maintain contact with our dearly departed soul sister.
Check out Supernatural Love on Blue Coupe’s CD, Million Miles More - http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/bluecoupe4
Up and Down and Round and Round
The band Drivin’ n’ Cryin’ is on a schedule to record and release a new EP every few months. That puts a lot of pressure on songwriter Kevn Kinney. He stopped by my house one day and after a few cups of coffee, he mentions that he could use another song for his next EP with the title “From The Psychedelic Time Clock”. I pulled out my 12 string and played him a 60’s inspired riff and chord change that I thought might fit his theme. He took it home and came back with some hilarious lysergic soaked lyrics. The tune is tons of fun, complete with an electric sitar riff and hallucinogenic production techniques.
My master plan to pump out new music every few months is in full effect. I am currently in final overdub mode for my second solo record at the world renowned recording studio Andy’s House Of Hits; otherwise known as my spare bedroom. With one EP under my belt, I am feeling more focused and assured as a solo artist, which will come across in the performances and production.
This new EP will be a concept record about two of my favorite subjects; religion and faith. Entitled On The First Day, Man Created God, it includes three new tunes, Fisher Of Men, Skeptical and Get On Your Knees For Jesus as well as my epic, viral YouTube video hit, Are You Ready To Rapture, finally available on CD and download.
This is a record that will undoubtably bring hours of listening pleasure for you, the discerning audiophile…. but be forewarned, if you are easily offended or have a weak heart; please do not attempt to give it a listen !
As I look back on 2012, I see the usual line-up of records, videos and live shows. However they all fall to the wayside in the shadow of one event … performing at the Reason Rally on the National Mall in Washington DC. It was a once in a lifetime experience to share the stage with the amazing Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Kraus, Tim Minchin, Eddie Izzard, Bad Religion and the dozens of other thinkers and artists I admire. This was the largest atheist event ever held and I honestly felt as if I was taking part in an transformational moment in American history.
If you’ve been out of the loop, here are the highpoints for the rest of 2012 ….
Just got my official certificate from the Atheist Film Festival. This was my first attempt at creating a video for one of my songs, so it’s very fulfilling to see the acceptance it has received…. Working on a Christmas video as we speak.
It’s not the destination it’s the ride and crafting my first solo EP has been a resoundingly, satisfying trip. From working out the tunes with Tricia Scotti and Brian Hurd at The Lakeside Lounge (RIP), to recording in Springfield Missouri with the incredible Skeletons, to mixing with Vance Powell (former Skeletons soundman), right up to shooting the video two weeks ago with Geoffray Barbier, Travis & Jonathan and Dave Hill it has been an absolute ball!!!
People always want to know the story behind the creation of the songs, so here goes….
Let’s Get The Band Back Together
In the fall of 2011 I saw my buddy Jesse Bates perform an early version of Let’s Get The Band Back Together at Tom Clark’s Treehouse. I had a good laugh but when I went home I couldn’t get the tune and concept out of my head. I asked Jesse for permission to re-work it and he enthusiastically agreed. So I sprinkled a little Shernoff ‘magic, fairy dust’ on it, added it to the set and found that people responded to it with the same enthusiasm I did.
To be honest my goal is to make “Let’s Get The Band Back Together” the new national catch phrase. Your boss calls a meeting – ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together!!’…. you catch up with old friends – ‘Let’s Get The Band Back Together!!’ ….. C’mon people, we can make it happen. …. go Team Shernoff!!
Laugh and Walk Away
In January of 2012 I went to Springfield, Missouri to record four songs with The Skeletons. I could have rounded up some great musicians and recorded in New York but I was looking for the feel of an actual ‘band’ as opposed to a bunch of musicians thrown together for a session. I also wanted guys who were studio savvy and had the capability of playing a variety of musical styles. The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section would be the model and The Skeletons are the living, breathing example. Very early on in the session it became obvious that The Skeletons knew my musical references and had the skills to help me navigate my musical vision. I decided to take advantage of my time in the studio and throw a few more tunes at them. One was a chord progression in open G tuning that I was fooling around with. Those chord changes quickly fell together and became Laugh and Walk Away, the only song I have ever written in a recording studio and my favorite song on the record……….I also came home with seven songs.
In 2011, from May thru December I played almost every Wednesday at Eric Ambel and James Marshall’s late and lamented Lakeside Lounge. I relished the challenge of playing a residency as I knew it would force me to be creative and come up with song ideas. I brought in new things almost every week but I also experimented by reinventing old Dictators songs. I would change a melody or reconfigure chord changes to make things interesting. Hey Boys is one result of that process. I like to think of it as The Everly Brothers recording in Bakersfield with Don Rich on guitar…. that’s the record geek in me, but I truly love the way it came out. Tricia Scotti is doing the harmonies and here’s a fun fact. Hey Boys is the first song my Dictator/Del Lord brother Scott Kempner ever wrote.
Don’t Fade Away
I had the melody and title for Don’t Fade Away for a few years but was always stumped on lyrics. My mother passed away in November of 2010 and after the dust settled, the lyrics came fast and furious. It chronicles our relationship as she slipped into Alzheimer’s disease. The song quickly became a staple of my acoustic show. An interesting pattern also started to emerge, after almost every performance somebody would come up to me, often with tears in their eyes, recounting similar experiences with a close relative. The purpose of songwriting is to communicate so when I see one of my songs visibly touching people, it is very gratifying. We are all in this together and music can be the glue.
So that’s the story, I know the sound of this EP doesn’t have the hard edge I built my ‘reputation’ on but I wanted to record songs in a classic, timeless style without the restrictions of genre. I feel very satisfied with the results and think the quality will overcome any unreasonable expectations. However if anybody feels this EP is not up to my past standards. I will refund your money! … Can’t beat that, a musical money back guarantee!
The EP is available for download if you click on Shop on the menu to the left on my website.
Now I start working on my next project, a very special Christmas single and another EP for March release. It has been a blessing to make music for my entire adult life and if I have learned anything over the years it is – everyday I make music is a good day!!
I gathered a few friends together the other day and shot a video for my new EP. We had so many laughs making it I’m confident the fun will shine through in the finished product. Kudos to director Geoffray Barbier, Dave Hill, Travis Harmon, Jonathan Shockley, the fabulous Carla Rhodes and my two beautiful divas Tish and Snooky for Oscar worthy performances.