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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18 hours ago

Bryan Beller

Thank you CHICAGO for a sellout show at Reggie’s! A truly awesome Aristocratic night. 👍🤘 On to Indianapolis!

The Aristocrats
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20 hours ago

Bryan Beller

GRIFF PETERS (Mike Keneally, Billie Myers):
One of Beller's closest friends, and one of the most important contributors to Beller's first two solo albums, Griff Peters attended Berklee College Of Music in the early 90s at the same time as Beller and drummer Joe Travers. In the nearly three decades since, they've played together in various lineups with Mike Keneally, BB's live band, and in the performances of the late Wes Wehmiller's band I, Claudius at the annual WesFest benefit concert series. Griff's unique vintage tone was built into the foundation of several key Beller compositions, from the growling "Cave Dweller", to the fusion workout "Get Things Done", to the signature title track ballads from “View” and “Thanks In Advance”. BB chose Griff's spot for “Scenes From The Flood” very carefully, and Peters made the most of it by supplying over twenty tracks of lead and layered guitars, and putting his stamp on the mood-setting, slow-burning track that kicks off vinyl Side 2, "Always Worth It".
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2 days ago

Bryan Beller

TEDDY KUMPEL: (Joe Jackson, solo artist)
During Beller's time in Nashville from 2006-2013, one of the relatively few local gigs he regularly performed there was with a singer/songwriter named Saul Zonana. Saul had moved down to Nashville from New York, and had a pop/prog, hard rock/Beatles-y vibe to his solo material. On one gig, Zonana invited a friend from New York onto the gig for some additional guitar textures. That friend was Teddy Kumpel, and Beller was immediately taken with his tone and vibe. He soon found himself devouring Kumpel's solo releases “The Man” and “Songs In Tomato Sauce” (BB's choice picks: "I'm It, For Now", "We've Got Chemistry" and "Get Out of My Way".) Over ten years later, Beller finally realized his longtime desire to collaborate with Kumpel on the track "Always Worth It", one of the longer and more involved songs on “Scenes From The Flood”, and one that required a guitar solo that was funky, bluesy, jazzy, and slightly *bent*. In other words, Kumpel's specialty.

Teddy Kumpel pic by Michael Weintrob
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3 days ago

Bryan Beller

One of the great pleasures of this The Aristocrats tour is being on the road with the Travis Larson Band, and their awesome bassist Jennifer Young. I'm really pleased with our working relationship and the consistently high level of professionalism and appropriateness on display, no matter how long and hard our touring days are together. I see us as role models for the youth of tomorrow in many ways. ... See MoreSee Less

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3 days ago

Bryan Beller

"Steiner In Ellipses" - artwork for Track 5 of the progressive double concept album "Scenes From The Flood". (Bonus points for correct guesses on the hidden meaning here.) ... See MoreSee Less

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GRIFF PETERS: Beller's friend and musical compatriot of nearly 30 years - and lead guitarist on the title tracks of his 2 previous solo albums - created an entire world of melodic & textural sound for one of "Scenes From The Flood"'s key thematic compositions, "Always Worth It".

The whole album drops September 13. One song is out now ("The Storm") on YouTube w/video. A second song video ("Volunteer State") drops in early August. Pre-orders from https://t.co/IrccGnkq2B get the song "Bunkistan" e-mailed to them right away.

Martin Auger@auger_martin

@bryanbeller i’ve got to say You Know What is now my fav Aristocrats album.... When can we hear yours ?

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