June 1996 by Sony
Good To Be Gone
“When I feel like I’m sinkin’, I’m just wiggin’…” — “Wiggin”
With Good To Be Gone –their third album, but the first recorded specifically for a major label (Epic)– Soulhat turns up the volume and pulls out the stops, underlining their blues-based funk with a psychedelic, in-your-face intensity. Part of the credit for this new hard edge must go to album producer/engineer Nick DiDia, who has worked with album executive producer Brendan O’Brien on such bands as Pearl Jam , Aerosmith , Stone Temple Pilots and Red Hot Chili Peppers . Good To Be Gone is the culmination of a period of growth well beyond Soulhat’s previous two efforts, the self-distributed Live At The Black Cat and last year’s indie-label Outdebox , later re-released on Epic.
“We’ve always been a heavier band live, but this is definitely a new sound on record,” explains Soulhat co-founder Bill Cassis, who formed the group four years ago with Kevin McKinney and Brian Walsh while attending college in Texas. The lineup was later completed by legendary drummer Barry E. “Frosty” Smith, whose remarkable 20-year career found him playing with the likes of Lee Michaels , Sly Stone , and Parliament -Funkadelic before relocating to Austin to work with such local musicians like Delbert McClinton and W.C. Clark. Frosty’s tribal stomp and r&b chops give Soulhat a distinctive rhythmic drive second to none.
Over a two-year period, the band built a fervent grassroots following with its legendary twice-a-week, three-hour long gigs at the Black Cat Lounge on Austin’s famed Sixth Street. Soulhat was named “Rock Band Of The Year” in the 1993 Austin Music Awards and were runners-up to the Arc Angels for “Austin Band Of The Year.” Since the national release of Outdebox, they’ve strengthened their fervid fan base with months of national touring as both club headliners and support to bigger-name bands. “In the year and a half since we recorded Outdebox a lot of things have changed, and people have to accept that,” says Bill Cassis. “The growth has been both refreshing and natural.”
While fans of Soulhat’s previous albums will feel right at home with the atmospheric “Preacher Man” (originally recorded live for Black Cat Lounge), the spirited instrumental “Emugga” or the ethereal ambiance of “Waited,” only those who have experienced the band’s raucous live sets won’t be surprised by balls-to-the-wall rockers like “Homer” (with its tongue-in-cheek nod to influences like Frank Zappa and the Mahavishnu Orchestra ), the sardonic “homage” to New York City called “Big Nose,” the aptly named “BoneCrusher,” and the apocalyptic journey of “15 More Miles.” The influences range from the acid-soaked blues of fellow Texans ZZ Top and Stevie Ray Vaughan to the angular funk-rock of the Chili Peppers and the dreamy, spacious sounds of Talk Talk and David Sylvian.
“We were just having some fun and trying to ruffle some feathers,” says Kevin McKinney, who wrote the bulk of Good To Be Gone on his home 4-track in a feverish burst of creativity. “It’s fun to rock out and play loud. It was something we all felt like we needed and wanted to do.”
Good To Be Gone represents a new lyrical attitude as well in the black humor of songs like “Homer,” a slyly syncopated tune about what McKinney calls “a guy on the verge of losing it.” The rhythmically adventurous, off-the-wall “Wiggin'” is about trying to survive in a stressed-out world. The churning, raucous “Psychological Bone” is the band’s stab at “people who chew your ear off about nothing,” while the funkin’ hardcore groove of “Dirty Old Man” is about just that: a codger “with a stinky little pinky ring” who gets his kicks “sneaking in the titty bar.”
“The world’s kind of a frustrating place,” says McKinney. “There’s not a lot of happy stuff to sing about unless you’re in love, and I’m not. You travel around and you start to see all these things, and I guess it rubs off on you. It’s just what I’m faced with every day. But don’t get me wrong, there are good things too.”
Still, one thing Soulhat is happy about is the musical progress evident in the grooves of Good To Be Gone. “This was ten times better to make than the last record,” enthuses Bill Cassis. “We had a great time in the studio–no holds barred, creatively.”
“That kind of sums it all up,” says Kevin McKinney. “When you’re freaking on the world, you just have to sit back and chill out.”
“EPIC” Reg. U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
Copyright © Sony Music Entertainment Inc.