Photo Credit: Jason Thrasher
Jay Gonzalez is one of the Athens music community's most underheralded treasures, an unfairly talented songsmith who has delighted audiences around town and beyond for years—first as a member of beloved pop-rock groups like Nutria and The Possibilities and more recently as the Drive-By Truckers' secret weapon.
Then came the strange and wonderful LP Mess of Happiness and, shortly after, the nerdy glory that is the acoustic keytar, and Athens suddenly got the picture that Gonzalez was not just an indispensible asset to the scene but some kind of mad, misunderstood genius, a younger Doc Brown, obsessed with time travel but not in the physical sense, determined through his wild-eyed experimentations to return us to the salad days of saccharine soft-rock.
Now comes the news that Gonzalez has completed a 13-minute, five-song power-pop medley called The Bitter Suite, and he wants to release it on limited-edition 180-gram vinyl with a custom etching on the B-side, because of course he does. Thing is, he needs your help to press the damn thing, because pressing records is expensive. That's where Kickstarter comes in.
I found I’d written a series of short pop songs which, upon closer inspection, shared a common thread. Each one touched upon a series of recent upheavals in my life—I had lost a beloved relative, had a permanent falling out with a friend and musical partner, and touring was keeping me thousands of miles from my family. But I was on the road with talented musicians whom I enjoyed performing alongside, and despite my absence, my rock n’ roll lifestyle had the support of my amazing, loving wife, so it wasn't all doom and gloom. In a word: bittersweet. It didn’t take much to realize these brief songs could be connected by more than just thematic similarities. So I went about sewing the song bits together at the piano and recorded a home demo.
Enter Chris Grehan: Longtime best buddy, musical collaborator, recordist, co-producer and all around musical enabler. Chris suggested we take the suite demo into a bonafide studio and add some bonafide drums. The studio was 1093 Boulevard, owned by the talented and gracious Jim Hawkins. It's got an amazing sounding room and lots of great gear. For the drums we brought in our friend Joe Rowe (The Glands, The Goons) who's a great musician and has played with us over the years. Our friend Tom Lewis then helped Chris transfer the tracks to 16 track tape and then mastered the suite when Chris finished mixing it.
The result was an epic, 13-minute track that sounded better than I had even imagined, upon which I conferred the title, “The Bitter Suite.”
So donate, why don't ya? There are some neato prizes available, like guitar or keyboard lessons, a custom song and a private solo show from Gonzalez himself.