THANKS IN ADVANCE (2008)

 


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 

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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.”

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Thanks In Advance features performances by:

Guitarists

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)

Keyboardists

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)

Drummers

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)

Special Guests

Saxphonist Scheila Gonzalez (Zappa Plays Zappa)
Violinist Ann Marie Calhoun (Steve Vai)

released September 30, 2008 

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)

Infinite and profound thanks to Wes Wehmiller, to whom this record is dedicated.

(c) 2008 Onion Boy Records, All Rights Reserved.

all rights reserved

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2 days ago

Bryan Beller

BEHIND THE SCENES FROM THE FLOOD - “BUNKISTAN”: I made the album demos in sequence, and after the intensity of “The Flood” and finishing the first half of the album, I took a month-long break to freshen up my head. This was the first song back, and it flew out of me. I’m pretty sure the demo only took five days. And I remember after it was done, thinking for the first time, “I wonder if some of that isn’t good enough to keep?” Turns out I kept everything but the drums and percussion.

The guitars were all done fingerstyle, played as I would play a bass. The main and counter guitar melodies went down smoothly, and the keyboard layers quickly followed (god bless the Korg Kronos Rhodes and String Ensemble patches, they’re just gorgeous). I broke out the dark, vintage-y Mike Lull passive P/J 5 (alder body/rosewood fingerboard) and flew through the take, including the solo. And then for the guitar solo, I felt strangely liberated, and imagined myself as a cross between David Gilmour and “clean jazz guitar guy” capable of soloing in 9/4. I could hardly believe it was me when I played it back. You take these where you can get them. To top it off, I thought it would be cute to have drummer Ray Hearne (HAKEN) play against type and play a fairly simple trance-like groove throughout the whole thing.

But the real inside bit of “Bunkistan” isn’t really how I tracked it. It’s what it’s about. It’s a love song for touring musicians, specifically with a tour bus. What happens is that, after the show, everyone gets on the bus as it prepares to roll through the night. At some point, people retreat to their little bunk spaces for eventual sleep, and the smartphones come out. Some text their spouse, or their sweetheart, or maybe even their possible hookup in the next city.

Zoom in on one bunk, one particularly tender thread, and that’s the sound of this melody the first time around. Sweet somethings back and forth.

Zoom out again and imagine two people, in two different bunks, doing the same - that’s the second melody, with more accompaniment. The bass enters melodically, and the keyboards become lush. A third bunk starts their own thread as the second chorus begins.

The bus enters a long mountain tunnel - perhaps the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland - and the outside atmospheric noise changes. This is the breakdown and bass solo. The original thread is more exposed now, and yearning expressively, even earnestly. Missing someone.

The bus exits the tunnel, the guitar solo begins, and now everyone on the bus is texting. Sweet late night bits and bytes headed in different directions all over the globe. Hour after hour, text after text, kilometer after kilometer.

Eventually, dawn breaks, and one by one, the folks on the bus turn off their phones, and turn over to go to sleep. The music breaks down, bit by bit, and eventually stops. But the bus keeps rolling on, somewhere in Europe, into the early morning, and beyond.

“Bunkistan” is the album’s final nod to unqualified optimism. After this, it sets off on the long, inevitable march to its ultimate ending,
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3 days ago

Bryan Beller

Olomouc, Czech Republic. You are pretty and have great food and Pilsner Urquell. Thanks for being good! ... See MoreSee Less

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3 days ago

Bryan Beller

BEFORE THE MAYHEM BEGINS: A candid shot from an Aristocrats soundcheck. The chicken is keeping watch.

Heading for a day off in Olomouc, CZ before our show there. Thanks so much again to everyone in Bochnia and Warsaw Poland for two more amazing shows.
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4 days ago

Bryan Beller

GOING DUTCH: When it comes to supporting the progressive instrumental community, nobody does it like the Dutch music press. There are *five* reviews of “Scenes From The Flood” that I haven’t shared yet and they are ALL from The Netherlands. The picture on this post is from the recent issue of Gitarist (NL), and I’ll share links to the other four articles below.

Progwereld (NL), unsigned - www.progwereld.org/recensie/bryan-beller-scenes-from-the-flood/
RockPortaal.nl (NL), Hans Ravensbergen - www.rockportaal.nl/bryan-beller-scenes-from-the-flood
DPRP.nl (NL), Mark Hughes - www.dprp.nl/reviews/2019-074
Background.nl - Pedro Bekkers - www.backgroundmagazine.nl/CDreviews/BryanBellerScenesFromTheFlood.html

The Netherlands has always had a special place in my heart ever since my early career days in Hilversum and Groningen working with Mike Keneally, Steve Vai, Co de Kloet and the Metropol Orchestra. With the kind of care and attention the Dutch music community gives to expanded releases like “Scenes From The Flood” and other progressive artists, hopefully you can see why. 🙂

BB WEBSTORE LINK FOR CD, VINYL, & HI-RES DIGITAL VERSIONS OF
"SCENES FROM THE FLOOD":
bryanbeller.com/index.php/shop/

Thanks so much to everyone in The Netherlands for their great support, and I look forward to seeing you on January 18 and 19 when The Aristocrats come to De Boerderij in Zoetermeer!
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5 days ago

Bryan Beller

Thank you Vienna (this pic) and Kosice, Slovakia for two great shows! On to Poland for the next two nights...

The Aristocrats Guthrie Govan (Official) Marco Minnemann
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Such an amazing album. Between The Buried And Me's "The Great Misdirect" is one of the hidden influences of "Scenes From The Flood". It was subliminal even to me until I saw this and thought about the whole album again. It's just great. If you haven't checked it out, do so!

Tommy Rogers@tommybtbam

The Great Misdirect is 10 years old today! 🎉
Btw, @paulbtbam this guitar part still kicks my ass.
#btbam @btbamofficial @prsguitars

BEHIND THE SCENES FROM THE FLOOD: "BUNKISTAN" - a love song for musicians. Read the backstory here (top post): https://t.co/uinoIWbMhz

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