released November 2, 2015
(c) 2015 Benefactor Records; reissued in 2017 on Aqualung Records
Produced and mixed by Bill Lambusta and Jeff Fiedler for Patin's Place Productions, and engineered and mastered by Bill Lambusta
Recorded at Home Studios, Bordentown, NJ
All songs written by Jeff Fiedler, except "First" and "Leave" written by Jeff Fiedler and Bill Lambusta
Jeff Fiedler: lead and harmony vocals, electric and acoustic rhythm guitars, drums
Bill Lambusta: lead guitar and additional rhythm guitars; bass; piano and string arrangement on "Just Perfect, As Is"; drum programming
Front cover photo and packaging design by Beanie Zee
"Still Stood Still" - kudos to those of you who know where I got that title! - is the fourth and final studio installation in my series of solo EPs for charity, done in tandem with my amazingly talented co-producers and collaborators Brian Erickson, Bill Lambusta, and Frank Lettieri, and begun back in 2011 with the release of "Zero Hour," and is also the last solo record of new material I plan on ever releasing publicly. [A compilation or archival-recording package might not be out of the question, however. I've also been asked why I haven't issued any of these EPs on CD. My answer to that is simply that I've never been the sort of musician who gets any kind of excitement whatsoever in seeing their name on a self-distributed but professionally-pressed CD - although, if that CD were on an imprint that I've been familiar with since I first started collecting records as a little kid, like an A&M (still my all-time favorite record label), that would be another story entirely! - so I've never had much of a personal desire to have my stuff professionally pressed and would only feel compelled to do it if I felt there was enough interest from fans that I could be fully confident that the record would sell and there was money to be raised for charity from doing so. So if you'd like to see a CD release of some kind, shoot me an e-mail or phone message and make your voice heard! To quote Bryan Adams' biggest hit, everything I do, I do it for you, so to quote an early Bryan Adams album title, you want it? - you got it!]
So why disband this project rather than just go on extended hiatus? The guys and I undoubtedly have great musical chemistry together, no doubt, but Bill, Brian, and Frank are also all very gifted musicians with excellent full-time bands (The Paper Jets, Bootstrap Bandits, Small Planet Radio, Dust of Days) that really need their full and undivided attention, and I, to their everlasting dismay, don't take this music stuff anywhere nearly as seriously as any of them do and never will, which can make working together terribly tricky much of the time. I don’t have the same dreams of being a rock star as they do. I’m primarily a writer, so for me, just turning on the radio and hearing somebody sing something I wrote would be “rock and roll fantasy” enough for me. So the guys and I tend to gravitate towards entirely different kinds of shows. They're understandably primarily interested in expanding their following, but I'm at the age now (but bear in mind that I'm several years older than my bandmates and most of my other musician friends, so this is not meant to be a knock on them) where I just feel downright silly even talking about that sort of thing. I mean, if I was ever meant to do this as a full-time career, it almost certainly would've happened by now, so why exhaust so much time and energy worrying about how to grow my fanbase or get to that next big level when I could simply devote that passion towards giving you, my existing fans, the most rewarding show I can give you? [And I think one of the things that ends up doing a lot of amateur bands in is the fact that it's so easy for us musicians to become all-consumed by the fans that we DON'T yet have that we end up alienating the fans we DO have and cease to take them into consideration in the things that we do.]
I’m lucky enough to have amassed a respectable following of people who enjoy my music, and to borrow a line from my song "Big Way," "When your psyche knows fame is quite unlikely, why not suck it up and do things in a big way for the people who DO like me?". It's why I've developed such a distaste for playing evening gigs alongside two or more other bands. That sort of thing is fine for younger musicians like my bandmates who are chasing bigger things, but at my own age - and there IS something to be said for aging gracefully - I just feel like it would be a classier and more thoughtful gesture to cast aside my business sensibilities and put on a different kind of show that’s more directly tailored towards the fans I’m already lucky enough to have and many of whom now also have spouses or children. A lot of these people can't realistically come out to late-night or last-minute gigs or are willing to drive long distances to see me or care to hear a bunch of other bands they’re not familiar with, and I try to be really cognizant of all of that and pick shows that would be more convenient and rewarding for people to attend. I’m only here because you guys have made it possible, and I feel I owe it to you to not waste your time with shows where you, the fans, are anything less than my number one consideration, be it in the choice of venue, what time I go on, the set length, song selection, or anything else. So for me as a performer? I'm happiest just playing shows - even if just by myself, in an intimate setting, with just a piano and/or acoustic guitar at my disposal - right near you, however far away from industry execs it may be, and having the time and freedom to hit you with as much music from my catalog as you want to hear and play the songs you want me to play, regardless whether it's from my own albums or something I did with or wrote for someone else. (I've always admired it when bands include stuff from their extracurricular projects in their concerts, like how "New York Groove" used to be a regular fixture at Kiss shows in the years Ace Frehley was in the lineup, or how Maroon 5 regularly works "Stereo Hearts" into their sets. That kind of thing is as thoughtful and generous a gesture at a concert as there is. I wish more bands did that sort of thing.) My bandmates and most of my other musician friends conversely would just as soon play a brief set in the big city alongside several other up-and-comers, but they're younger (and arguably even more talented) and they have a dedication towards reaching that next big level as aspiring rock stars that I don't, so it makes more sense for them to do that than it does for me to do so. It's consequently more and more difficult all the time to find any sort of show that all of us are equally enthusiastic about doing. We have a blast in the studio together, though, to the extent that I know I could never have anywhere near as much fun making a record with any other group of guys, so I can't think of a more perfect way to go out as a recording artist than to do it with this band.
So this isn’t necessarily a full retirement – it’s my last proper record, yes, but I haven’t necessarily played my last show. I do legitimately still have fun doing shows when the circumstances are more to my liking - which unfortunately usually only happens when I'm playing purely by myself or as a duo with one other friend on hand - and I’m sure the four of us will eventually reconvene for something down the road should we ever find a show that appeals to all of us, so … to quote one of my favorite Styx songs, I’m not dead yet. And I also can’t say enough about not just the talent of my bandmates but their fire and determination towards trying to reach that next plateau as musicians, so I can certainly guarantee you that THEY’RE not dead yet, either, so keep an eye out on them. It may be a while before we next play together, but I’m still very much a fan and cheerleader for each of them, and be sure to check out their respective next albums. They’ll blow you away.
Hilariously enough, I never intended for any of this to be a solo project - my original vision for the project was to be just one frontperson of many in a large, supergroup-styled project, but I was ultimately talked into abandoning that idea by my bandmates. Now ... I'm not sure it was the best choice I could have made in terms of maximizing our fundraising potential, because it thoroughly wiped out all the cross-promotional gains there were to be had by having any number of different acts all out on the road playing material from the same disc(s) - there's no telling how much more money we could have raised for charity doing it that way, and, really, that was the entire point of this whole project, to raise money. The new vision for the project, of course, meant that it fell entirely upon myself to play the material in a live setting (I do, after all, sing lead on every last song on the records, even the Erickson/Fiedler EPs), and, as I said earlier, I don’t have the same fire or passion as a performer as my bandmates do, and lacking any kind of manager, I admittedly did very little booking for myself, so most of what little promotion was done for this project in terms of public appearances amounted to a lot of impromptu open-mike appearances and the occasional opening-act gig offered to me by a friend. All in all, we played only three formal gigs as a complete foursome in promotion of this project. Of course, I could have held firm and stuck to my original vision, so I really have no one to blame but myself for why we didn’t raise more. And, to the credit and wisdom of my bandmates, while their advice may have not helped our cause from a fundraising standpoint, it also made for far better records - at least that's what everybody tells me, anyway, and thank you all for saying so - so a big thank you should be paid all the same to Bill, Brian, and Frank for not merely devoting so much energy and time into making these wonderful records but having the artistic foresight to sway me into doing a more musically cohesive and artistically stronger project, even if it meant looking on in anguish and frustration as I failed to promote these records even half as aggressively as they do their own. The records were artistically better for it, though, so let me just go officially on record as saying "You were right" (LOL). (Brian’s been waiting to hear me utter those words for years. (LOL)) I’m sorry that I didn’t make more of an effort to push these records on my own.
Thanks as well to all of you out there, particularly Kathleen Falcey, Gerard Mullin, and Andy Vineberg, who took the time to talk with me about my original vision for the project and saw something brilliant in it that none of my musician friends could see and gave me such incredibly reassuring and positive feedback. You have no idea just how much that meant to me. This project may have ultimately become a different sort of project altogether, but your words kept me plowing forward when I needed it the most, so thank you for that. I'd also like to take the opportunity to both thank and apologize to all of you who volunteered your help or services along the way over the course of this project and ended up getting lost in the shuffle as the project veered wildly off course and ended up getting refashioned into something else entirely, especially Matt Pischl, Marianne Graves, Drew Novelli, George Petrillo, Lisa Cavallaro, Dave Pittinger, Anna Kilian, and last but certainly not least, my dear late friend Tim Ryan, who kicked this project off in amazing fashion by donating what may well be my favorite song he ever wrote and which I will always regret having to leave off the project.
Now, getting back to this record in particular, there are far too many people to thank separately, most of whom I've acknowledged in liner notes on prior albums, but I need to give extra special thanks to my co-producer and bandmate Bill Lambusta for the incredible job he did on this record and to Beanie Zee for her help in putting together the album artwork and for being so patient while we spent countless days in the studio making this EP. You can have your husband back now. (LOL) I'd also like to give extra special thanks to my family (Mom, Dad, John, Karen, Natalie, John, Landen, Logan, and Emmie) and to Amanda Guthrie, Bill Greenwood, Drew Novelli, Sheelagh Ruane, Ryan Hanratty, and Jesse Elliot for your friendship and continual words of encouragement.
Thanks as always to all of you who have taken the time to download any or all of these EPs and enabled us to make a difference in this world, and thanks to all of you out there - family and friends; new friends and old friends; classmates, co-workers, and teachers - who ever went out of your way to compliment my music and encourage me to put some of my work out there; you don't know how much that has meant to me! I'd also like to especially single out and thank my old childhood bandmate and buddy Matt Davis for continuing to cheer me on over the course of this project. (If you’ve never seen his band Aerial Photograph live, I highly recommend it. It is truly a mindblowing and chill-inducing experience.)
I'd like to close the thank-you portion of the liner notes of this final studio EP of mine by acknowledging one more person. Regrettably, plans to include my buddy Jim McGee in this project never quite materialized. (At one point, shortly before the passing of our good friend and former bandmate Tim Ryan, Brian and I were going to take a lot of the material of mine from these EPs and combine them with songs from both Brian and Tim to do a Sly Figurines reunion album and short promo tour, with Jim back in the fold as lead guitarist. That plan got jettisoned in favor of Tim joining Brian and Frank in The Paper Jets in time to complete work on their album "We Are All Strange Friends," which, if you've heard that album, I'm sure you'd agree with me was the right call artistically, even if it meant having to set Tim's and Brian's songs aside and not getting to reunite the old gang and go back out on the road together for a couple of nights, which I will always regret, particularly considering that my shows with Tim during his life were far too few.) In spite of getting left out of our project, Jim – who always has a wonderfully refreshing sense of perspective about the life of an amateur musician and has shared many a great nugget of wisdom with me over the years – has consistently been the most amazingly supportive and truly classy guy. Many a time has he called me completely out of the blue simply to offer words of encouragement and rave about my latest record. I honestly cannot recall him ever urging me to do things any differently or tell me I was doing anything wrong, even when I clearly was, and he's always had a way of knowing exactly what to say and how to say it, and has been instrumental in keeping my spirits up throughout the rocky course of this project, so that being said, I'd like to dedicate this fourth and final studio EP in our project to Jim. Thanks, buddy. I never would have made it this far without your encouragement, and we will definitely play together again very soon. You have my word on that.
THE STORIES BEHIND THE SONGS:
"The Patron Saint of Lost Causes": I have no idea why, but it isn't an uncommon occurrence for me to get sick while on vacation, but on this
particular occasion, I got sick while we were still at the airport waiting to board our flight! As we sat inside the plane, my family couldn't help but find this a little funny, which it was, so I laughed, too, and quipped, "Man, I am just the patron saint of lost causes, aren't I?" As soon as I said that, I realized I'd inadvertently come up with a great song title and wrote the song later on during the flight. I remained sick for the next few days, but I got a wonderful song out of it, at least! The choppy rhythm to this song was inspired by the Olivia Newton-John song "Heart Attack," which has one of the more surprisingly unorthodox and complex drum parts to be found in a Top Ten pop song from the '80s. You never hear it on the radio anymore, but the arrangement of the song is pretty ingenious. We kept the drum part on this song much simpler than the one that you hear on "Heart Attack," but you can make out the influence in my rhythm-guitar playing.
"First": There's a funny story behind this one. I came up with the chorus one day and had it stuck in my head for days but didn't have anything else to go with it. Shortly after, Bill sends me a demo of a new song he had written - and originally offered up to the Paper Jets, actually; luckily for me, they didn't take him up on it - but doesn't have any lyrics for yet and asks if I can come up with anything for it. I put the demo on and start humming a melody over the verse, and once the track gets to a point where I assume the chorus will be, I start singing the chorus I'd had stuck in my head the previous few days. It fit absolutely perfectly. I couldn't believe it. Once I realized that would work, I had the rest of the song written in less than a half-hour. The line "Actions speak loud, but jealousy does, too / And, frankly, nothing deafens like a lesson from you" is Bill's personal favorite line in any of my songs. I think my own personal favorite line in the song is "Forgive me if I've noticed that a pattern exists / And live in paranoia that I'm next on the list." Definitely a fun one to play live, and I know Bill and Brian both are especially fond of this one.
"Leave": This one is another that Bill had already come up with a full instrumental track for and asked me to pen lyrics to. This was a fun one to record, because it's got a very R.E.M.-ish flavor, so I had Bill go back and hit "record" again after I'd cut my lead vocal and improvised some "It's the End of the World ..."-style harmonies then and there to wonderful effect. The lyric - fittingly enough for a song on the last record I intend on ever making - is actually about my increasing lack of passion and commitment towards the whole amateur-rock-star thing as I get older and the constant disappointment and frustration it causes my bandmates, so it's actually written from their point of view. My personal favorite line is "So why do I repeat myself? / So why do I repeat myself?".
"Just Perfect, As Is": I've been a diehard vinyl record collector my entire life, which ended up being just one of many sources of inspiration for this song. The first verse-and-chorus set ("Bob Dylan spins underneath the arm / The record is worn - that's half the charm ...") was written about an original antique Silvertone turntable. Any fans out there of Bob Dylan or Queen should keep your ears open for a couple references to songs by each of those artists. (The line "Mercury's on your Silvertone," which is easily one of my favorite bits of wordplay I've ever come up with for a song, is a reference, naturally, to Freddie Mercury, the legendary Queen frontman.) The second and last verses of the song may initially seem to be unrelated to the first, but the theme that runs throughout and connects all the verses and choruses in the song is that of being able to appreciate and cherish something or somebody, be it yourself or a loved one, as is, no change necessary, and not wanting it any other way - as the owner of the turntable in the song says, "It's flawed, and it's perfect!" This is no easy task, mind you, to maintain that outlook, particularly when you're navigating through your teenage years and the pressure to sell out your values and be less than true to yourself can be so great, hence the second verse. ("Don't let 'em change you or hurt you / Keep your virtue and move on.") Sometimes we just need to be reminded that what one person might look at and construe as a flaw is what another person may most admire and would never want to see change. And there may be no higher compliment you can pay a person than to simply say, "Don't ever change." Bill deserves most of the credit for the arrangement of this one. When I first brought the song to the group, I originally had designed it as a straightforward, almost danceable rocker. (I'm a big INXS buff, and I was listening heavily to songs like "Tiny Daggers" and "This Time" around the time I wrote this, so that was a big influence on the song musically.) Bill came up with the idea, though, to bring it down several notches and rework it into something simultaneously more experimental and more intimate, using acoustic guitars and a piano as a base, with drum loops and a string arrangement added for flavoring , the latter of which I myself never would have thought to put in there when I first wrote the song but really went a long way towards bringing out the beauty of the song. The final product is radically different from what I first imagined in my head and doesn't really remind me much of INXS anymore (though you can still vaguely make out the influence in the chorus), but I like Bill's arrangement better!
"Illegal Smile": This one would probably have to be my personal favorite of all the songs I've ever written. I was flipping through a men's fashion magazine in a hair salon one day when I spotted a not-suitable-for-children ad that turned out to be an advertisement for jeans, though you truly had to study the fine print on the edge of the ad in order to figure that out. ("The plot's amiss 'cause no one's sure / what product this here advert's for!") The advertisement inspired me to write this playful song taking a satirical jab at companies who resort to the most risqué of tactics in order to sell their products. This one only has two chords in it and is a bit simplistic that way, but it's so hard-rocking and has such energy and passion to it that it's unbelievably fun to play in concert. Be sure to listen closely to Bill's lead guitar work on the song; his solo on this one may be my favorite guitar solo on any record, actually! I think the coolest compliment I ever received about this song came courtesy of my mom, who not only flipped out over the song and had me play it about five times in a row but remarked, "This one sounds like it ought to be the theme song to a James Bond movie." That never occurred to me when I was writing it - actually, I was trying to write something in the mold of the great alternative-rock band Franz Ferdinand, and you can tell from my lead vocal on this one that I was trying a bit to imitate Alex Kapranos' mannerisms, though Bill reined me in at one point when he thought I was overdoing it (LOL) - but when I listen to this track, I do have to agree that it has a bit of that distinctive James-Bond-theme flavor to it and reminds me a little of the best uptempo rockers in the Bond catalog (i.e. "Live and Let Die," "A View to a Kill"), even right down to the solo that Bill added to it. Think I should pass this one on to the Broccoli family and see what happens? (LOL)
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