Allman-Betts Band conclude session at Muscle Shoals Sound
SHEFFIELD, Ala. (AP) — Devon Allman said he certainly felt a vibe while recording tracks for the upcoming Allman-Betts Band album in the iconic Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where his late uncle Duane laid down tracks for the likes of Boz Skaggs, Ronnie Hawkins, Lulu and John Hammond.
The band recently wrapped up a week-long session at the studio and anticipates releasing the album early next year.
In addition to Allman, son of the late Allman Brothers Band co-founder, Gregg Allman, the band includes Duane Betts, son of ABB founding guitarist Dickey Betts, and Berry Oakley Jr., son of the late ABB founding bassist, Berry Oakley.
Allman said the band is scheduled to hit the road in March and “take a lap around the planet” for a tour that will take about 12-14 months.
“It will be an Allman, a Betts and an Oakley, just like the original band,” Oakley said. “It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
He said the history and legacy of Muscle Shoals Sound can’t be beat and it made perfect sense for the band to record their debut album in the Shoals.
“I really wanted our first time making a record together to be as special as possible to kind of build the story,” Allman said during an interview in the studio’s basement. “There’s a lot of factors that go into it, not just the studio. We have an exceptional producer, Matt Ross-Spang. We’re doing it fully analogue to two inch tape. No digital in the process whatsoever.”
Chuck Leavell, the touring keyboardist for The Rolling Stones and a former member of the Allman Brothers Band, also makes an appearance on the album.
“These are the kind of things that build the story of the record,” Allman said. “And this is certainly a historic place and I’ve wanted to record here forever. When I told Duane about it, he was like, yes, it makes perfect sense. It’s full circle for our families.”
Betts, who spent part of the year on tour with Allman, said recording at Muscle Shoals Sound is like a dream come true.
“You can get into a comfortable place in a recording process, but this is like how I would envision the perfect environment,” Betts said.
He pointed at the basement walls which are plastered with the jackets of albums recorded in the studio.
“This has been a blessing,” Oakley said. “In my 30 years in the studio, this has been the smoothest easiest session making a record, but still really professional.”
Allman said he’s known about the vibe and “mojo” surrounding the studio.
“Then you come in here and you get to work and, it’s not really when you’re working because you can’t be thinking about that,” he said. “We’ll take breaks and I’ll look around and wow, we’re here, we’re adding to it.”
Allman said the album has a vibe similar to Derek & the Dominos’ “Layla,” not so much in the songs, but the feeling.
“There’s some soul, there’s some classic rock, there’s some country, smokey bluesy, rally and an amalgam of all the beloved Americana that we’ve grown up on,” he said. “You don’t want to give it all away. It will be out in the world soon enough.”
The songs on the yet untitled album were written by Allman and Betts and Betts’ songwriting partner Stoll Vaughan, a Kentucky native whose two albums were in the Top 10 of the Americana charts.
Betts said he and Vaughan wrote songs for his last EP and Allman liked some of the material.
“When we started, we thought it would be a good idea to bring him in as a mediator,” Betts said. “He’s a good guy to bounce stuff off. I’ve got my voice on this record but I didn’t have to write all the songs. We all kind of put in enough to feel really great about our contributions.”
Oakley said he has a chemistry with Allman and Betts mainly because they’ve known each other for so long.
“Me and Duane have been in many bands over the decades, so it’s nice now coming together after all these years,” Oakley said.
Oakley said during the sessions he played his 1966 Fender bass through Swamper David Hood’s bass rig. He also used one of Hood’s bass guitars and for one track, he used a 1967 Fender Precision bass his dad and Duane Allman bought for Johnny Sandlin.
Sandlin, who died earlier this year was an engineer on the Allman Brothers Band’s live album “At Fillmore East” and “Eat a Peach.” He also produced the ABB album “Brothers and Sisters” and a number of later albums.
Oakley said he plans to use a couple of his father’s bass guitars on the road, but didn’t feel safe having them shipped in for the recording sessions.
Allman said their agent has been busy booking shows and the band has been getting excited about bringing the new material to their fans.
“The thing that really hit us in the last couple of days is we have all these wonderful songs to play live,” Allman said. “Duane and I have had a really great, fun and successful year touring together.”
The Devon Allman Band with Duane Betts have been playing a few Allman Brothers Band classics like “Blue Sky,” ″Dreams” and “Multicolored Lady,” and will likely continue to play maybe three of their dads’ songs on tour.
Allman said sometimes it can be difficult to perform his father’s songs live.
“There’s months that will go by and I just feel honored and then there’s a night where I’m heartbroken and I miss my dad,” he said. “And that’s when it’s hard and you suck it up and you do your job.”
The artists stressed that while they will be paying tribute to their fathers and the Allman Brothers Band, they will be also be making their own mark.
“You have to strike a balance that is weighted in integrity,” Allman said. “I think it really hit us the last couple of days that we’re going to have some great moments with our new music that’s going to be on the record.”
But as Oakley said, there’s no escaping who they are.
“We have our voice as well as continuing the legacy,” Oakley said. “As much as we try not to, we do sound like our fathers.”
Information from: TimesDaily, http://www.timesdaily.com/