Considering the album title, was there a conscious decision going in that this album would have a mellower sound thanSweet Pain? Yes. I wanted to make a small record at home and I wanted to make it sound as spontaneous as possible. I wanted to write small songs about small things. Sometimes small things can be as big as the universe. I was taking cues from Lou Reed and Ray Davies — artists that can make the mundane sound beautiful.
Dreamland is your most stripped-down release. Did you do most of it solo? I did most of the record myself but of course I needed the help of my band, the Men of Great Courage (Jim Berger, bass, Rick Couto, drums, Bob Kirkman, banjo, Richard Reed, keys). Chris Lilley was very generous with her engineering knowledge. And my good friend (and veteran producer) Emerson Torrey did the mastering.
How has your relationship with Mark MacDougall and 75orLess been thus far? My partnership with 75orLess is wonderful. We have a low-key and low-pressure relationship. Mark is easygoing and does a great job getting the word out for me. He’s a music lover and he feels like family.
Tell us about working on the soundtrack for Jim Wolpaw’s Ladd School documentary (facebook.com/laddfilm)? Jim told me about this project, the strange and disturbing story of the Ladd School, and I jumped at the chance. I believe that this is an important story on many levels. People have a ton of misconceptions about folks who are labeled as being developmentally disabled and I hope that this film helps to dispel some of those notions. I’m working with clients from Advocates in Action to create an original soundtrack, including Jimmy Isom, who plays beats on the table and sings. Jimmy was also a client at Ladd School years ago, and has shared some chilling stories with me. I’ve made some friends for life through this project. I feel like getting to work on this soundtrack is a gift from God.
What’s on deck for MC in 2014? Will you continue to play with The Schemers? We’ll probably stick to doing one or two Schemers shows a year. I want to keep that special for the people who remember the band. Hopefully, the Tiny String Band and MOGC will be recording in 2014, and maybe I’ll put out a weird electronica album. I’ve been threatening to do that for a long time. I’m going to be holding food drives throughout the year and teaching guitar. I’ve been working on some short stories and screenplays as well.
Did you ever imagine that almost 40 years later you would still be kicking out the jams? I never thought that I’d be doing anything else. Any day job that I had was solely to support my family and my habit. My decision to leave my job was made easier when I said out loud that I wouldn’t ever be able to afford to retire. So, if I’m going to have to work until the day I die, I may as well be doing something that I love. Wish me luck. MARK CUTLER & MEN OF GREAT COURAGE | Friday, December 13 @ 9 pm | Nick-a-Nee’s, 75 South St, Providence | 401.861.7290 | mcutler.com