You Tonight CD release at Brick Street
By Sarah Hall
A ticker atop www.youtonightband.com is counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds to You Tonight’s Nov. 25 CD release.
The Thanksgiving Eve show at Brick Street Tavern will be a homecoming of sorts for the band. Once upon a time, in high school days, three members of You Tonight played together in the popular band Fence Post which frequented the venue in its previous incarnation, Las Palmas.
But don’t expect You Tonight to just be a grown up version of Fence Post.
“We’re totally different players now,” says drummer Hayes Smith. “Back then, a lot of what we did was just showing off as individuals. Now we communicate. Now it’s about quality of sound and always working to be better.”
Not that the current EP ignores the early days. The band’s re-make of lead singer and guitarist Jesse Reaves’ 2006 “The Ocean Song” is included on the upcoming release.
“When you’ve got a good idea, you don’t want it to go to waste,” says Reaves.
He wrote the original version of the song when he was feeling down about his bandmates all leaving him behind in Salisbury as they took off in different directions for colleges. He performed the song with his short-lived band The Cheat.
Reaves formed alliances with various local musicians between then and now, and continued to work with Fence Post bassist Kyle Butler who was just down the road at UNCC. Then Smith took a break from his studies at ASU and returned to Salisbury. Three-quarters of Fence Post got back together to jam and immediately jelled. The special connection they shared in high school was back and better.
The fourth member of You Tonight, Gray Wiseóvocals and rhythm guitar, is way over at UNC-Wilmington, so they can’t perform together as much as they’d like. But the miles don’t keep them from composing songs together via the Internet, and when they are all in the same place, things fall together instantly, sometimes even unrehearsed.
And the distance has forced them to learn to improvise better when they do get together with little practice time. This skill came in handy recently when they forgot to bring a mic cord to a gig and had to do an all-instrumental show. The crowd loved it.
Wise performs in cover bands in Wilmington, but he’s a singer/songwriter at heart, so he braves the distance to be a member of You Tonight. In August the rest of the band came to him for a change, playing some shows on the coast with plans to do some recording, but then three of them came down with swine flu. Only Butler escaped illness with his “awesome immune system.”
In spite of that temporary recording set back, the EP “After Hours” is ready for release Nov. 25 and will be available at the Brick Street Tavern show that night.
Recorded locally with producer Jerod Jacobs, the five songs are electric rock, most with drive, all with hooks. The first track and title song has a pop edge and the last track, “Losing It” is the most aggressive of the bunch.
In between, the songs “Leaving it All,” “You Never Change” and “The Ocean Song” provide plenty of rhythmic variety and musical interest. Adding to the appeal of “The Ocean Song” are guest musicians James Crabtree on Fender Rhodes and Domenic Sabol on cello.
No individual band member gets credit as composer. Instead, all songs are collaborations. Reaves says that for him, the music has to come before the words.
“I have to hear a melody in my head to write lyrics,” he explains.
The band already has enough material for a full-length album which they hope to record next summer when they can all be in the same place at the same time.
But they are predicting their next effort will be more acoustic in nature as they continue to evolve. They have been experimenting with different combinations at the Tuesday night open mics at Brick Street, “getting out of the comfort zone,” Smith playing dobro, Reaves on mandolin.
Smith had been performing steadily in Boone: rock, bluegrass, jazz, alt-country, including time as drummer with band of note The Worthless Son-in-Laws. He’s currently teaching at Salisbury School of Music while he contemplates his next move.
Butler, a man of few words, prefers to communicate through his playing. The other band members acknowledge that Butler’s bass lines are the genesis behind much of their composition and improvisation as well as anchoring the group. And his hairdo adds to the band’s visual interest. He’s majoring in civil engineering but doesn’t mind contemplating a musical future.
And Reaves is just happy to be back in front of a like-minded, musical crew.
You Tonight hopes to see you that night.
Brick Street Tavern is located at 122 E. Fisher St. For information, call 704-637-6047.