Dead Rock West

Dead Rock West

BandRockPop

If you crossed Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens with X, threw in a smidge of Iggy, a dash of Keef and some Byrds dander you just might come up with something like Dead Rock West. Check out Honey & Salt, their blistering new CD, mixed by Grammy-winner Richard Dodd. (Tom Petty, Sheryl Crowe)

Biography

The best music tends to hit a listener from seemingly out of nowhere, fully formed and ready to infiltrate the psyche. Of course even the newest discovery has paid their dues somewhere, which means there are often real treasures often right under our very noses. So it is with Dead Rock West.

Flying just under the radar, for the past three years this quintet featuring Cindy Wasserman (vocals, starbourine,) Frank Lee Drennen (vocals, guitar, harmonica,) Phil Parlapiano (mandolin, octave mandolin, Hammond organ, Vox Continental,) Bryan Head (drums) and David J. Carpenter (Bass) has honed their sound in California clubs, building a rep and an audience while road testing the material found on their debut disc Honey & Salt. Now with word of mouth building and an armful of new recordings the group is ready to hit the next plateau.

With a name like Dead Rock West, youd be correct in assuming there are occasional country and folk influences, but really thats just touching on the bands capabilities. Dashes of garage, power pop jangle, and rock n roll populate the set list, played with passion to match the songcraft. The secret weapon here? Its the vocal harmonies. Dont misunderstand. This is one tight band all around. But Wasserman and Drennens voices are a seamless blend that add melody to already impressive hooks. Icing on an already pretty tasty cake.

While Dead Rock West has been together since 2002, the group is really a culmination of years of work in Southern California nightspots. Drennen spent time playing the acoustic clubs in San Diego, teaming up in the early 90's with former Alarm guitarist Dave Sharp and forming pop group Loam shortly thereafter. They would go on to release two albums in the U.S. and Spain, and win a San Diego Music Award in the process, with their song Telephone later recast by Dead Rock West as an amphetamine fueled Byrds flavored rocker. Drennen also spent time with The Hatchet Brothers, teaming up with troubadour Gregory Page for two albums and a barroom sing-a-long that kept San Diego clubs packed for years. He also joined Page and Carpenter in The Troubled Sleepers. In fact it was with the latter that the seeds of Dead Rock West were sown.

I met Cindy through Gregory, remembers Drennen. She and I recorded two songs at Dave's house just for fun with the Troubled Sleepers as the backing band. It was then that we realized we had something special in the sound of our two voices together. Describing the inspired vocal interplay, Drennen is effusive. He notes the soulfulness of Wassermans voice, but also points out their varied vocal approach. Cindy thinks of the mic stand as an antenna to the spirits and that they use the stand to speak through her. I'm more visceral, prowling. Looking to hunt that connection down and kill it.

For her part, Wasserman is no stranger to either stage or studio. Most recently she has toured and recorded with Grant Lee Phillips. In fact all the members have extensive touring backgrounds. Carpenter has toured and recorded with Toni Childs as well as Doe and Phillips. Head does double duty with his band Abandoned Pools, and has toured with Shelby Lynne. Most impressively, Parlapiano was previously in Geffen Records act The Brothers Figaro and has performed with Grant Lee Buffalo, Tracy Chapman, Lucinda Williams, Rod Stewart, Social Distortion, amongst many others

All that experience is used to great effect on Honey & Salt. Recorded at Grandmas Warehouse in Echo Park, the disc was recorded the way they used to; 2" tape, 24 tracks, no click tracks or pitch correction machines. In addition to the members of Dead Rock West, the genesis of the album involves a few other key players. The Section Quartet (Sam Phillips, etc.) provide strings and pedal steel player Greg Leisz also contributes, with the album mixed by Grammy winner Richard Dodd (Tom Petty, George Harrison, Steve Earle, Traveling Wilburys etc.)

Basically I contacted him via his web site, Drennen recalls. I told him about ourselves, that we were recording to tape and I asked if he ever mixed any one who was not rich or famous. To his surprise Dodd replied. He responded saying he was interested in hearing the works in progress. Nervously, I sent him the songs. We were'nt even finished overdubbing at this point. After a couple of long phone converstions I was convinced this man loves music and wants to be a part of projects he can be proud to put his name on. Needless to say we ended up in Nashville and spent six wonderful days hearing our songs come alive and listening to his stories.

The trips end result are the Honey & Salt tracks, as catchy and varied a collection of songs as youre likely to come across. Whether Wasserman or Drennen take the lead, the groups way with a melody cant be denied. Our premise from the beginning was two great voices singing great songs, simple as that, states Drennen. And it's still our goal. Despite those impressive credentials, Dead Rock West is

Lyrics

Highway One

Written By: Drennen/Storey



HIGHWAY ONE [3:15] |
It's been a little while
Since you flashed that California smile
It's been some time
Since you touched that telephone dial

I got your letter
It would've been better to call
But I know it's not your style

Do you still drive up Highway One
Going way too fast / Racing with the sun
Do you still sing that same old song
Forget the past/ just move on

It's been too much time/ to be without
You're still on my mind
Last night I dreamed/ that you came back
I couldn't speak

I sent your letter
It might've been better to call
But you know I just a child

Do you still drive up Highway One
Going way too fast/ Racing with the sun
Do you still sing that same old song
Forget the past/ just move on
just move on
just move on

Do you still drive up Highway One
Going way too fast/ Racing with the sun

- - - - - - -

Cindy Wasserman-Vocals
Frank Lee Drennen- Vocals, Guitars
David J. Carpenter- Bass
Bryan Head- Drums
Phil Parlapiano-Piano, Fender Rhodes, Electric Octave Mandolin

with:
Andrew Bush- Lead Guitar
Kevin Jarvis- Shakers, Tambourine
Strings arranged by Eric Gorfain
Strings performed by The Section Quartet
Eric Gorfain: violin
Daphne Chen: violin
Leah Katz: viola
Richard Dodd: cello

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Taken from the album:
HONEY & SALT
© Drennen/Storey
Tree Top Charlie/ASCAP

Rocket From the Crypt

Written By: Drennen/Buhl



ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT [2:29]
(Chorus)
Is there a place we can stay
For a while
Is there a place away from it all
Where we can go
For a while

Is this a hunger or a plea
Or just a call to up and leave
As our tempers race to ask
What is real
And while the opositon stands
With thier feet stuck in the sand
We are planning out our flight
Cutting down the homeward path

Is there a place we can stay
For a while

Rocket from the crypt
Living with the dead
Our heads are burning fire
And our feet are made of lead
Liken to scar
And bent all out of shape
The sky is burning down
Onto a frozen landscape

(Chorus)

I've been down so long
I don't even know my name
I been looking for a way
to get out of this place
Contradiction and lies
Burn the best of tries
We're going NOWHERE

(Chorus)

- - - - - - -

Cindy - vocal
Frank - rhythm guitar / lead guitar / tambourine
Dave - bass
Bryan - drums
Phil - vox continental

with:
Ken Lasaine - rhythm guitar

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Taken from the album:
HONEY & SALT
© Drennen/Buhl
Tree Top Charlie/ASCAP

Telephone

Written By: Drennen/Pacilio



TELEPHONE [2:22] |

It's getting clearer as we speak
Bits and pieces on the telephone
I knew you in another time
There was nothing you were afraid of

And I'm so far away from that now
I'm so far away from you now

Thirty minutes away
But the drive would take days
Find a marker on the road
Look behind
See how far I've come

And I'm so far away from you now
You were less my love
And more my lesson
And I'm so far away from you now

You were less my love
And more my lesson

- - - - - - -

Cindy - vocal
Frank - vocal, telecaster, acoustic guitar
Dave - double bass

with:
Don Heffington - drums
Andrew Bush - lead and baritone guitars, piano

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Taken from the album:
HONEY & SALT
© Drennen/Pacilio
Tree Top Charlie/ASCAP