Last week, Milwaukee's The Goodnight Loving launched its latest full-length CD, "The Goodnight Loving Supper Club," with a gig at Linneman's Riverwest Inn that was part of WMSE's Radio Summer Camp music festival.
The show was a highlight of the festival and only added to the buzz that was already going for the band's debut on Portland, Ore.-based Dirtknap Records.
The record is a genre-smash with 15 songs that run the gamut from the spaghetti western of "It's a Long Way in a Bad Way," to the British Invasion jangle of "Earworm" to the rootsy rumble of "Bike + Stick" to the almost surf-y "Ramble Jamble."
We posed five questions to the band's Andy Kavanaugh, to learn more about the making of the record and the success is already finding.
OnMilwaukee.com: Can you tell us a bit about making "The GNL Supper Club"? It has a very spontaneous feel to it, did it come together that way, too?
Andy Kavanaugh: We really wanted this record to be different from the others we made and we did that in a number of ways. First off, we didn't have a practice space at the time, so we were just playing acoustic guitars in my living room. So even the practices for the album were loose.
Also, most of the songs for this record were written specifically with the record in mind. In the past we have just had a bunch of songs that we had written and we would sort of pick and choose which recordings we liked and that would be the record.
With "Goodnight Loving Supper Club" we started with the concept of the record and wrote songs that fit the mood, hence some of the instrumentals and segue ways and such. So the songs were written while we were recording them in many instances.
We also recorded everything onto a cassette 8-track first. When you are working like that you can't really just change little things you don't like about a take like you can on a computer, so you go for the spontaneous feel of the track more than musical or rhythmic perfection.
OMC: Tell us about the deal with Dirtnap, is it a one-record deal or a longer-term thing?
AK: Dusty Medical had released our last three albums, amongst many other services that have helped us keep going, and both the band and Dusty agreed that three is a very powerful mystical number and we had better leave the Dusty Medical albums as a trilogy.
We knew we wanted the fourth record to be different and outside of the trilogy, so it made sense to it out on a different label. Ken from Dirtnap is a native Wisconsinite and it was obvious that he just really loved our music, so that was all we needed to know. We would definitely work with Dirtnap again, but our myopic outlooks prevent us from thinking more than a day or two into the future.
OMC: Will the record be released internationally, as have previous releases?
AK: I believe so. He seems to have great distribution and a lot of the bands on his label are popular overseas.
OMC: It must have been a great time touring Europe, can you tell us a bit about that experience? Are you going back soon?
AK: We have no immediate plans to return. Europe was amazing, but very hard work. Our first European tour was five weeks long with a show almost every night in a different city or country. The network they have for touring bands over there is really great and far superior to the States in terms having modest guarantees for bands and making sure you don't starve.
We recorded our "Arcobaleno" EP in Italy on that first tour, so we have a nice audio postcard of our travels.
OMC: How has the response been to "Supper Club" so far?
AK: This has been the first record for me where I haven't had any idea of how people would respond. Some of the record is a little jarring, none of the songs sound similar to each other, and I think its our most personal album, so we were pretty unsure as to how people would take it, but we knew that we really pushed ourselves to do something different than we've done and we like the record, which is all that matters.
We went out of our way to make this record a little bit uncomfortable for us, which is a good way to make sure you are not treading over the same ground. Mostly the response has been "What's a Supper Club?" and then trying to explain to somebody the nuances of such an establishment, which is pretty hard to do.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.