After spending nearly eighteen months recording his last album, Looking For A Feeling You Never Knew You Needed, Val Emmich had a much different plan for his followup. His new album, Aide Memoire, was recorded in just seven days and released it to his core fans one week later.
"The idea," Emmich says, "was to remove any possibility of overworking the songs. My goal was to make the album as honest as possible."
That's not to say this 10-song collection was simply thrown together. Emmich started formulating ideas in the fall of 2010. As he began organizing his new songs, he noticed the prevailing theme of memory and how it affects both our present and our future. The result was a concept album that leads the listener from idealistic childhood through adult disillusionment and back again to the wide eyes of youth.
With the songs solidified, he just needed a way to record them. "I knew that in order for the songs to really emote, I would need to record them in a raw way and I would need to put everything else in my life aside in order to truly embody these songs."
First he enlisted Sunlight Searchparty producer Jason Cupp (Good Old War, Maps & Atlases, The Elected). Cupp suggested they get away from Emmich's home in Jersey City, New Jersey and travel to Omaha, Nebraska to work at Another Recording Company, a studio owned by Saddle Creek alum, Mike Mogis. Next, Emmich put together a group of musicians who could help flesh out the songs and more importantly record them live as a band in the studio. Bassist Rob Fitzgerald, guitarists Dave Bassiri and James Stahon, and drummer Kevin Walters would form Emmich's new backing band, The Veeries.
"I knew each guy was an excellent player and a good hang but I couldn't have anticipated how all of us would gel together so effortlessly," says Emmich.
With the lineup set, Emmich turned to Kickstarter to fund the project. His promise to deliver the album on a set date proved attractive to donors, who helped him meet his target goal in just 24 hours. In return for the generosity, Emmich incorporated their names into the CD artwork.
Aide Memoire is surely his most personal album to date. In fact, he didn't share it with anyone--not his friends, wife or even manager--until it was completed. Even Cupp, the album's producer, didn't hear the songs until about a week before leaving for Omaha.
"I really wanted to capture a moment here and be able to look back and remember how it really felt," says Emmich. "As I get older I forget things. But I won't forget this. I made sure to keep all the rough edges intact. The lyrics spare no one. On the album, you hear people breathing, stomping on pedals, guitar buzz. All that helps to remind me what it felt like to be there with the band and the songs and that means something to me."