Five years after his acclaimed debut album "View", renowned bassist Bryan Beller (Steve Vai, Mike Keneally, Dethklok) creates an emotionally charged, personally definitive jazz/rock compositional statement about breaking through anger and finding gratitude. Drawing on disparate influences from jazzer John Scofield to Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, and even Rage Against The Machine, Beller cranks up the instrumental intensity with fellow heavyweights Mike Keneally (solo artist, Frank Zappa); drummers Marco Minnemann (world-famous clinician), Toss Panos (Larry Carlton, Robben Ford), Joe Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa), and Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, Tears For Fears); and special guests violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (Jethro Tull; 2008 YouTube "My Grammy Moment" winner) and saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez (Zappa Plays Zappa).
"Beller engaged in some sonic soul-searching for his sophomore effort 'Thanks In Advance', and the welcome result is a bona fide entry for bass album of the year." - Chris Jisi, Bass Player Magazine
"I love Bryan's playing! He's solid, supportive and creative with tone for days. 'Thanks in Advance' is full of cool ideas, inspired performances and deep grooves. I definitely recommend it." – Michael Manring
"Every tune sounds unique and compelling." - Walter Kolosky, Jazz.com
"As well-written as it is well-played." – Nick Zaino, Skope
The Story Behind "Thanks In Advance"
Bassist Bryan Beller seemed to have it all: a storied sideman career (Mike Keneally, Steve Vai), regularly published articles in Bass Player Magazine, an acclaimed debut solo album ("View", 2003 Onion Boy), and an executive corporate position running SWR bass amplification for Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. But the untimely death of a close friend in early 2005 exposed deep fissures in his own identity, and instigated a period of intense and sometimes painful self-examination. One year later, Beller had quit his day job, returned to life as a freelance musician, moved from L.A. to Nashville, found love, and experienced an epiphany that forever shifted his view of life, and his role in it.
"Thanks In Advance" is the musical manifestation of that journey. Set to Beller's highly detailed, rock-infused, jazz/fusion compositional voice, it's an intense trip through the heart of personal darkness – from the lushly dissonant orchestral arrangement of "Casual Lie Day," to the searing, grinding dirge of "Cave Dweller," and culminating with the frenzied "Love Terror Adrenaline/Break Through" featuring renowned virtuoso guitarist/composer Mike Keneally (solo artist/Frank Zappa) and recent Modern Drummer cover subject Marco Minnemann – before finally reaching a state of personal and musical peace in the title track and the album's unexpected close.
"I was constantly unhappy, even angry, about my everyday life, wondering why this or that was all 'happening to me,'" says Beller. "Only after a shock to my system did I get that, ultimately, I was the source of it all. Where I am now is infinitely more satisfying. So 'Thanks In Advance' really completes 'View', which I now realize was a well-crafted complaint about things, and tries to convey how I got to being grateful for life's everyday content, whatever it brings, as opposed to being angry with it. It sure wasn't a painless process, but it's been deeply, profoundly rewarding, and it's a message I'd like to share with others. That's what I'm up to with this record."
More comfortable than ever in his own playing skin, Beller worked fretless, fretted, acoustic/electric, boutique and vintage basses into the mix, and contributed piano and guitar tracks as well. But he left plenty of spotlight for a stylistically diverse all-star cast: the aforementioned Keneally and Minnemann; drummer Joe Travers and saxophonist Scheila Gonzalez (Zappa Plays Zappa); violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (Steve Vai); View veteran guitarists Rick Musallam (Mike Keneally, Ben Taylor) and Griff Peters; keyboardist Jeff Babko (James Taylor, Robben Ford); and drummers Nick D'Virgilio (Spock's Beard, Tears For Fears) and Toss Panos (Michael Landau, Larry Carlton). And that's just the L.A. contingent; Beller tracked a whole separate group of Nashville musicians, including some veteran R&B grease in guitarist Bruce Dees (James Brown, Ronnie Milsap) and keyboardist Clayton Ivey (Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin) to complement the virtuosic firepower. There was also a personal touch, as Dees and Ivey previously recorded with the woman Beller moved to Nashville for: R&B singer/songwriter/keyboardist Kira Small, who also played Rhodes on the album's title track.
While recording occurred in eleven different studios (primarily in Nashville, Los Angeles and San Diego), Beller bucked the remote-album file-swapping trend and personally attended nearly every session, bringing cohesion to the production and personally preserving the album's narrative. "After a year of seclusion writing the material, I was more than ready to get out of the house and interact with the people I trusted to bring this music to life. Driving back and forth from Nashville to SoCal, with a van full of gear and basses and hard drives, going from studio to studio…it was really exhilarating to feel it all come together. That's an easy one to be grateful for."
"Thanks In Advance" features performances by:
Mike Keneally (solo artist, Frank Zappa)
Rick Musallam (Mike Keneally Band, Ben Taylor)
Griff Peters (featured guitarist on Beller's first album "View")
Chris Cottros (Nashville session cat)
Bruce Dees (James Brown, Ronnie Milsap)
Jeff Babko (James Taylor, Robben Ford, Jimmy Kimmel Live)
Jody Nardone (Crimson Jazz Trio)
Kira Small (solo artist, Martina McBride, Wynonna Judd)
Clayton Ivey (Wilson Pickett, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin)
Joe Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa, Lisa Loeb)
Toss Panos (Michael Landau, Larry Carlton)
Marco Minnemann (solo artist/clinician)
Nick D\'Virgilio (Tears For Fears, Spock\'s Beard)
Marcus Finnie (Diana Ross)
Saxphonist Scheila Gonzalez (Zappa Plays Zappa)
Violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (Steve Vai)
released September 30, 2008
Special gratitude to the Thanks In Advance Executive Producer Group for making this possible:
Michael Lasky, Rick Musallam, Lee Graham, Robert and Laura Beller, Colin Keenan, Steve Vai, John and Paula Wehmiller, Shawn Farley, Irving Lasky, Jeff and Rachael Nadel-Sears, Andy West, Matt Resnicoff, Matt Slavik, Daryl Jamison, and Martha Lawrence.
Produced by Bryan Beller
Mixed by Mark Niemiec at Muggytone Studio, Nashville, TN
Key editing by Mark Niemiec on all tracks except "Cave Dweller" key editing by Erich Gobel
Mastered by John and J.J. Golden at John Golden Mastering, Ventura, CA
All songs written by Bryan Beller © 2008 Panorama Ataraxia Music BMI
*except "Thanks In Advance" by Bryan Beller © 2008 Panorama Ataraxia Music BMI/Mike Keneally © 2008 Spen Music BMI/Griff Peters © 2008 Pointy Peak Music BMI/Joe Travers © 2008 Travers Tunes ASCAP.
CD booklet design and layout by Mike Mesker
Photography by Griff Peters (all except noted), Wes Wehmiller (tray card) and Leigh Ann Villanueva (booklet back page)
Kira Small appears courtesy of Offrow Records
Mike Keneally appears courtesy of Exowax Recordings
The players of Thanks In Advance endorse and thank the following companies and products:
Jeff Babko: Hartke Amplification/Samson Audio, Moog Music
Chris Cottros: D'addario strings
Bruce Dees: Glaser Instruments
Nick D'Virgilio: Mapex Drums, Meinl Cymbals, Aquarian Drumheads, Vic Firth Drumsticks, EV Microphones
Marcus Finney: Aquarian drumheads, Vic Firth sticks
Mike Keneally: Fender/Charvel guitars, Taylor acoustic guitars, Rivera amplifiers, Dean Markley strings, EMG pickups, DigiTech
Marco Minnemann: DW drums, Zildjian cymbals, Promark sticks, Evans heads and Audix microphones
Rick Musallam: Fender, Voodoo Labs, Planet Waves, Marshall Amplification, D'addario strings
Toss Panos: DW drums, Paiste cymbals
Griff Peters: Carruthers Guitars, GHS strings
Joe Travers: DW Drums, Vater Drumsticks, Remo Heads, Zildjian Cymbals
Bryan Beller uses and strongly endorses:
Mike Lull Custom Basses, SWR amplification, D'addario strings, Taylor acoustic/electric basses, Solid Cables, the Dunlop Bass Wah, the MXR M-80 Bass D.I., and the Xotic Effects BB Bass Preamp
Thanks and love to my dear friends and family, without whom neither I nor this could not have been created; to my SoCal crash pad crew: Rick Musallam, Lee Graham, Griff Peters, and Stacey Ferguson; to Dave Foster, for DVD mastery and all-around above and beyondness; to Shawn Farley, Mike Keneally and Marc Niemiec for unspeakable acts of moral support; and to the twenty-two musicians and eight engineers who brought this music to life.
Infinite and profound thanks to Kira, my partner in life and in love, for giving me my life back…and to Wes Wehmiller, to whom this record is dedicated.
Extremely extended liner notes and thanks: www.bryanbeller.com/thanksinadvance
(c) 2008 Onion Boy Records, All Rights Reserved.