TEN YEARS AFTER THE 9/11 RELEASE OF THE BAND’S
LAST ALBUM ‘SUPERCONNECTOR’ SINGER/SONGWRITER
MARK DAVISON REVAMPS GEMS FROM HIS POPULAR
‘90s BAND ALONG WITH EIGHT NEW TRACKS
ON ‘THE LIVING END: THEN AND NOW’
* * *
The Specially Priced Two-Disc Set Includes 13 Songs From
Cubic Feet’s Four Recordings And Disc Of New Tracks,
All Produced By Pete Solley (Oingo Boingo, The Romantics),
Who Produced ‘Make Waves Not War’, the 2009 Debut Album
By Davison’s New Band Nuke The Soup
Sometimes just when you think the party’s over, it’s merely a cool musical hiatus before ‘The Living End.’
In 2002, Mark Davison was vacationing in St. Thomas, taking some much needed chill time and celebrating the recent release of Superconnector, the fourth album by Cubic Feet, the popular indie band the singer/songwriter founded in the mid-‘80s with guitarist/keyboardist Woody Lissauer.He got wind that their song “Hold On Me” was #2 on “8 at 8” on Pirate Radio U.S. Virgin Islands and immediately contacted the station’s program director. Davison soon made a return visit to the island, this time with the full ensemble, headlining the station’s First Annual Birthday Bash at Bolongo Bay—which turned out to be one of the final live performances by Cubic Feet. But you can’t keep a great band down forever—especially when some of their best material has never been officially released.
Superconnector had the odd fortune to be released on 9/11, a day when the world changed and music was far from everyone’s thoughts. Ten years later, Davison and Lissauer celebrate life and affirm the power of music with the release (April 4 on iTunes, May 5 on CD) of The Living End – then and now, a specially priced double CD set. It includes a 13-track “Best Of” collection compiled from Cubic Feet’s four albums from the ‘90s and early 2000s, and a bonus disc featuring eight previously unheard songs, including “The Living End,” a mid-tempo rootsy blues rocker which is being promoted to Triple AAA and college radio starting on May 2-3. All 21 songs were originally recorded in analog at Davison’s Cubic Studios and were re-mastered for this project at Gateway Mastering in Maine.
In May 2011, the Baltimore area based Davison will perform onstage with Lissauer at the Dewey Beach High Tide Jamfest in Dewey Beach, Delaware. Lissauer will be introduced in the middle of a set by Davison’s new band Nuke the Soup, which released its first album in 2009.
Davison will debut The Living End – then and now at the NON-COMM Convention in Wilmington, a gathering of noncommercial radio stations (mostly Triple AAA) May 19-21.
“I’m excited to perform these songs again and be at NON-COMM sharing the good news that Cubic Feet is still around,” he says. “I feel like I had to put a cap on it this way. I let Cubic Feet go for a bit, but I always felt there was unfinished business. It’s a wonderful experience revisiting these songs, taking that trip down memory lane, and it was fun putting them together in a way that made sense, with strong continuity from song to song.
“Woody and I went through some different phases as Cubic Feet evolved,” Davison adds, “from those Bryan Ferry influences on our 1991 debut Across The River to the sonic distortion on Passenger in Time (1994) that was a product of the grunge era. By the time we did Inside Rail (1997) and our best album, Superconnector (2001), our vibe had changed and we hit our creative stride doing rootsy, straight ahead rock that had a touch of Americana, then the classic American sound that came to define the band. The last album even had some Hammond B-3 organ on it, adding another dimension. The songs still sound great to me after all these years, and truly reflect the way we grew creatively over the course of that wonderful decade-plus.”
One of the major common threads that runs through all of the Cubic Feet material on The Living End – then and now is producer Pete Solley, best known for his seminal work with Oingo Boingo and The Romantics; also behind the boards for Cubic Feet’s original sessions was producer Dave Adams. Solley is still a major creative force in Davison’s musical life, producing Nuke the Soup’s Make Waves Not War, which the singer describes as “looser, with more of an island vibe, surf and skiing vibe.”
“But,” he adds, “the music isn’t so different between Cubic and Nuke that the songs from each can’t be played on the same stage during the same gig. I think the biggest difference in Cubic Feet is Woody. His strength in writing music perfectly complemented mine in penning meaningful lyrics. His songwriting ability was so strong and it inspired me to up my own game. We have a very unique creative chemistry. Nuke the Soup reveals a different personal side of me, and I’m able to branch off a bit into reggae stuff and surf lyrics which are outside of Cubic Feet, which is more pop. Nuke the Soup is, dare I say, slightly more twisted!”
Davison’s fascinating transition began in 2003—after the final Cubic Feet tour and the St. Thomas show–when he and his new wife Sarah took off to explore the Southern Hemisphere and embark on exotic adventures with a wild itinerary that included many of the world’s most captivating surf spots. They hit Fiji before snow skiing and heli-skiing in New Zealand. Their Magellan-like voyage also took them to Sydney and Perth (venturing down the Margaret River into the heart of wine country) and Rottnest Island, where they cavorted with the wallabees and watched surfers off the coast hanging with the dolphins.
Other spots on their itinerary were a surf camp in the Maldives (in the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka), then several hot surf spots off the East coast of Africa, where they went windsurfing and wave riding: Reunion Island, Mauritius and the Seychelles. While Davison was off on his adventures, the prolific Lissauer was busy recording the first of his three solo albums.
Davison wrote the song “Living End” which was inspired by the global adventure. The idea came to him in a dream: that this is our world, the one we’re given, so good or bad, let’s enjoy it and make the best of it. “I want to live to the living end/There is nothing to pretend,” he sings, creating what became the perfect soundtrack to his life affirming, seize the day approach to traveling. “Save The World” also takes a personal reflection to a level of global consciousness. He wrote the words in 2000 just before getting married, as if egging himself on to make a great life for his bride.
Penned in Cubic Feet’s heyday, “19 Again” is a song he wrote with Woody long before marriage and the notion of being a family man entered the picture; it harkens back to a carefree time when he’d taken a year off from college and life was about as perfect as it could ever get. The previously unreleased “Brand New Day” is Davison’s clever ode to two very different icons of his growing up years, singer/songwriter Warren Zevon and “gonzo journalist” Hunter S. Thompson.
Davison is pleased to let Cubic Feet fans know that while he’s excited about the release of The Living End – then and now, he’s by no means finished mining gold from his musically compelling past. Plans are already in the works to release a remastered version of the band’s debut Across The River, featuring the full album and numerous bonus tracks. The original session featured backup vocals on three songs by The Weather Girls, famous for their anthem “It’s Raining Men.”
“I think younger fans will enjoy hearing music from a time where you could record everything on analog and achieve those warm, intimate tones that process is famous for,” he says. “And that’s what making music boils down to, and what releasing this project is all about–connecting with the fans across the years and generations. One of my fondest memories from our early touring days was renting a bus and inviting 30 fans to join us as we traveled up from the Baltimore area to New York for a show, leaving in the afternoon and returning at 4 a.m. the next morning. There was no Facebook in those days, but we got word out through the grapevine that existed, and had a fantastic time.”