The debut album from Waydown Wailers was officially released by Woodstock Records on Tuesday, but, for several weeks now, the band has been making a name for itself.
I got an email from Amazon one day saying, Dear Michael, if you like Southern rock, you need to check this band out. It was my own band! said Michael R. Scruffy Scriminger, drummer for the four-member Canton-based band. There was a list, and we were number one.
Before Woodstock Records nationally released State of the Union, the label made sure the album was distributed digitally to online outlets like Amazon and iTunes. Fans of the bands style of outlaw jam swamp, blues/rock quickly discovered the songs and began purchasing and downloading tracks.
These things take time for everything to catch up and were impatient musicians, so were excited about this, Mr. Scriminger said.
Exposure for the band can only increase now that the album is officially released.
To us, its a huge success because people love our music and we love playing, said Mr. Scriminger. To have people give us respect for that helps a lot.
Other members of Waydown Wailers are David Parker on rhythm and lead guitar, mandolin and vocals, his brother Christian on rhythm and lead guitar and Conner Pelkey on bass and backing vocals.
The bands success has rocketed since its first gig in July 2011 at the Made in New York festival in Sackets Harbor. It was well received in February 2012 when it opened for New Riders of the Purple Sage at Syracuses Westcott Theater. It was one of several times it opened for New Riders, which is on the Woodstock Records label.
Woodstock Records, in Woodstock, Ulster County, is partially owned by Aaron Professor Louie Hurwitz. In the 1990s, Hurwitz and the late Levon Helm co-produced three albums for the Band: Jericho, High on the Hog and Jubilation. His own group, Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, has released eight albums on Woodstock Records and has been nominated for five Grammy awards.
Mr. Scriminger decided to contact the label to see if it was interested in working with the Waydown Wailers.
The next thing I know Im getting a call back from the studio and they wanted to hear some more, he said. I assume they must have checked up on us.
Mr. Hurwitz requested a demo recording from the band, Mr. Scriminger said.
I said that all we had were live CDs, Mr. Scriminger said. He loved them.
Eight songs were selected from the live recordings. Mr. Hurwitz met the band at Subcat Studios in Syracuse for recording.
Its a very good studio, Mr. Hurwitz said. I told the studio that we had to record this with everybody singing and playing at the same time. Were not into making a generic record. Were into making a live record that you can only capture with a group that rehearses a lot, plays together and are buddies and brothers.
More than half of the album was recorded in one day, Mr. Hurwitz said. He brought the results back to Woodstock studios to analyze the tracks. He and the band returned to Subcat for one more day.
Those songs came out just as strong and the guys were just as together, Mr. Hurwitz said. If everybody is working as a team, thats very appealing to me. It makes my job a lot easier.
Final mixing was done at Mr. Hurwitzs studio. He brought in professional musicians to play on the album and used his backup vocalist, Miss Marie, on some tracks. Shes also the lead singer in the Cromatix.
Shes one of my aces in the studio, Mr. Hurwitz said.
He put a lot into it and constantly asked us what we thought, Mr. Scriminger said of the recording process. We really didnt want to say anything because we trusted this man so much.
Mr. Scriminger said there was no guarantee the band would be on the label until the finished product. But Mr. Hurwitz lobbied for the group.
The bands style has been described as a combination of blues, rock and Americana. The band calls it outlaw jam rock. Lyrically, the songs range from present day observations of national happenings to past relationships. The title song to State of the Union, which will be released as a single, refers to a country that has lost its pride.
Mr. Scriminger said the downloaded version of the album is doing especially well on the Amazon.com charts, hitting as high as No. 20 in the Southern rock category. Its also selling well in the jam band and Americana/alternative categories. Amazon listed the MP3 version of the album at No. 38 in the rock category Aug. 24, Mr. Scriminger said.
With todays technology, it is possible for a band to get exposure by self-recording and distributing its own work, but the band has discovered the benefits in signing with a labell, Mr. Scriminger said. Those benefits include distribution, networking and having the reputation of the name of the label and the affiliation of the bands affiliated with the label.
But success is more than being on a label, Mr. Hurwitz said.
The thing with music these days is that you really have to be out there playing and be out in front of audiences, he said. Theyve been telling me the audience response to the record has been great. The audience is the true test of it all.
Mr. Scriminger said band members are often asked why Waydown Wailers doesnt do more concerts in the north country.
We live in an area that supports a lot of cover bands, he said. Ive been in a number of cover bands and have no problem with that. Theres not a lot of support for original music in the area.
He said the band hopes to take similar original bands under its wings.
Were going to need an opener for some of the shows were putting together, he said.
Many of those shows, he said, involve driving six to eight hours. The band plans to reach into the Burlington, Vt., and Boston areas.
Theres not a lot of paycheck in it, Mr. Scriminger said. Were just excited to be moving into those ranks.
Mr. Sriminger said band members are still maturing as musicians.
Were now working on songs for a 2014 release on Woodstock, he said.