Behind the music

Chris Daltry talks about the making of 'A Tribute to Providence'
By CHRIS CONTI  |  November 13, 2013

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ON THE SAME PAGE The 'Mericans. [Photo by Jennifer Daltry]

How long have you had this album in mind? What was the band’s initial reaction when you mentioned the idea? The idea for recording A Tribute to Providence came to me a few years ago when I realized I’d lived here for almost 20 years. I started to think about why I made Providence my home, and it got me thinking about the people who convinced me to move here in the first place, and the people that have supported me in the music community, including The Providence Phoenix. People have been really good to me and I wanted to come up with a way of saying “thank you,” so this tribute is just that. Our city has always been home to so many influential and talented musicians. The scene has constantly changed, but it’s always been great, and I have always felt fortunate to be part of it.

When I brought this idea up to the band, everyone loved it. Our records are something we usually nurture and take our time with, letting the songs evolve over time until they feel ready to record, so in part doing an album of cover songs presented a scenario where we could make a record much quicker, as the songs were already written — we just needed to get a handle on them, rearrange them a bit, and then record them. It’s also the first album the ’Mericans have done as a whole, with all of us on the same page. Our previous records were made at times when band members were coming or going, but this one was conceived and recorded as a unit where the four of us genuinely enjoy playing music together, and this tribute project has been nothing but fun. Hopefully the people who wrote the songs enjoy our recordings and performances of the tunes as much as we’ve enjoyed recording and playing them.

A Tribute to Providence is also dedicated to Chris Popoloski, aka “Pop,” who recently passed away unexpectedly. When I had told him about this project he was really enthusiastic about it, as he always was with all things in the Providence music scene. Even if he hated your band, he’d find something good to say about at least part of it! Of course he thought we’d chosen all the wrong bands to cover, but the idea seemed great to him. Pop wasn’t much older than I am and it’s crushing to see your friends pass away at way-too-young an age.

Are there songs you left out that you really wanted on there, or ones that didn’t work out? Of course there are songs and bands we wish we could have included, but from the beginning we had a goal of 20 songs, and the 20 we wound up with came together kinda quickly. Some were a stretch, like the songs we did by Throwing Muses and Thee Hydrogen Terrors, but like everything else, we made them our own and I love how everything turned out.

There were no songs that didn’t work — all 20 we chose were recorded and wound up on the record. I think it’s largely because the songs themselves are great, and it’s been a pleasure to learn and record songs by so many talented local artists.

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