Though local instrumental fusion group The Family Recipe’s touring plans for the next few weeks have changed, the band will release its debut album “Roads” on all platforms on April 10.
Due to the growing health and safety concerns of COVID-19, The Family Recipe’s April 14 album release concert at the Georgia Theatre was postponed indefinitely. However, members of the band reassured fans via Instagram that they will continue to write and play as much as they can and make sure the show takes place when it is safe to do so.
The Red & Black spoke with the band’s mandolinist Will Ruff to discuss the band’s reaction to postponing its album release show, what listeners can expect from “Roads” and how the band plans to move forward with its music.
The Red & Black: How difficult was it for you and your bandmates to come to the decision to postpone your album release show?
Will Ruff: It was pretty difficult, especially because it was a big show for us and one that we worked really hard to get. It took a lot of hours of back and forth with the Georgia Theatre and with its talent buyer. After that long process was done, it was only a couple weeks later that we found out that we had to cancel the show. But it became an easy decision to make because at that point it was a given [we would have to cancel].
R&B: What was the reaction among your fans when hearing about the postponement?
Ruff: It definitely was a bummer [for the fans], especially because we had already been promoting the show on Facebook. All of our friends, family and classmates were excited, and it was going to probably be the biggest show we've ever had. So it's definitely been a disappointment all around.
R&B: Have you and your bandmates utilized this period of downtime to work on more music at all?
Ruff: Most of us are practicing our instruments a lot. I know I'm practicing up to four or five hours a day just with my own instrument. So although my bandmates and I can't be together, we’ve been sending sound files and ideas back and forth to each other. This way we can continue our music writing and have more content to release soon.
R&B: You and your bandmates are all college or graduate students. What is your new routine going to look like while balancing online class and your music?
Ruff: We haven't quite figured out our new routine yet. We are kind of at a point where it's okay to slow down a little bit when it comes to practicing. If this situation would’ve happened while we were still recording the album, it would have been catastrophic. But luckily we finished the album and our music to this point is all mixed and mastered. So now we're kind of trying to figure that [new routine] out because we're all trying to deal with school individually and trying to figure out our online classes. We were actually going to get together to livestream our concert just to have some form of album release party but in the end we decided that even doing that wasn’t safe. At that point, we had all been around separate people and we decided we should stay completely isolated. So when it comes to rehearsing, it's involved a lot more discussion with one another about the things we have each created on our own, which I think will benefit us as a band in the long run. When this is all over, we'll come back together with new mindsets about where we want to take our music. For the time being, we’re just all writing music and trying to keep the ball rolling as a band.
R&B: How long did it take to finish “Roads”?
Ruff: It was about a six month process from the first time we went into the studio to the last. We had actually recorded the title track and first single, “Roads,” six months before we even returned to the studio. Then when we went back to record the rest of the album, we were basically there for an entire month straight. At that point, we were rehearsing all throughout the week and then recording on the weekends. The process was a little bit weird and not as consistent as we expected because for most of us, it was our first time making an entire album.
R&B: As the release date quickly approaches, are you and your bandmates getting more nervous or excited for listeners to hear?
Ruff: At first we were all really bummed out because we're really proud of the album. Obviously no matter what, the release can’t be as big as it was originally going to be with having a show at the Georgia Theatre and a big pre-party with all of our friends. But looking ahead, we're just excited to get the music out there, let people hear it and keep going. After cancelling the show, we were mainly concerned about what we were going to do moving forward as far as promoting the album. Before we had been promoting the album alongside the release show, and now we’ve had to come up with a new social media campaign. So on our Instagram and Facebook, we’ve all been posting our own individual videos of our favorite parts of the album as a way to get fans excited.
R&B: What tracks from the album are you particularly excited for listeners to finally hear?
Ruff: As a band, “Unlevered” is our favorite because it’s a crazy song and it’s the most fun to play. We also really love it because writing it was a really collaborative process. One night I couldn't sleep and so I got out of bed and recorded the first half of the melody on my phone in the middle of the night. Then I met with our guitarist the next day and he finished the second half of the melody. Later that week we met with the rest of the band and we finished the song together. Other than that, I think “Backburner” was a really fun track to record, and I think listeners will enjoy it.
R&B: What are some of the key musical differences between “Roads,” and your 2018 EP, “Mushroom for Improvement?”
Ruff: We actually recorded “Mushroom for Improvement” in one day. We originally recorded it as a demo with the intention of sending it to venues and promoters, but after finishing it we decided it was good enough to release to the public. I’d say the big difference between “Roads” and “Mushroom for Improvement” is the overall quality of production and performance. As a band we’ve definitely each matured as musicians, especially with the help of our producer Jesse from the Glow [The Glow Recording Studio] who mixed and mastered the whole new album. I also think “Roads” shows a much clearer direction of where we’d like our music to go, whereas “Mushroom for Improvement” was not as good of a representation of who we are as musicians and as an ensemble.
R&B: You guys are known for onstage experimentation, especially with guest performers. I know on your Instagram you had announced that Convince the Kid and Misnomer were going to be at the album debut show, but are there any other surprise performers in store that you could give hints about to excite attendees?
Ruff: When the show happens, we're going to try and get that same lineup back because we felt like Misnomer and Convince the Kid really rounded out our sound. We consider ourselves to be a jazz rock band which is kind of a weird genre. Convince the Kid was going to bring that rock side while Misnomer was going to bring the jazz side. So, I would tell fans to definitely expect collaborations. One that I can share about is a collaboration with keyboard player Kevin Day, who’s a graduate student at the UGA that we connected with this past year. He's a phenomenal keyboard player and you can actually hear him playing with us on a live track on “Roads.” The last time we played at the Georgia Theatre we performed with him and we had our collaborative cover of the song “Hottentot,” [by John Scofield] recorded to be mixed and mastered for the new album.
R&B: If you could describe “Roads” in three words, what would you say?
Ruff: Without sounding cheesy, I would describe “Roads” as “an epic journey,” because we think of each song as just that. We really enjoy writing music that goes places and takes listeners on a musical adventure. Since we don’t have a vocalist, all of our songs revolve around instrumentalists and the exchange of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic ideas. We want these ideas to take our listeners on a journey where at the end of the song they’re left thinking, “What just happened?”