HERETIC?

by Andy Roman

Chances are, if you’re a music nerd like me, you know all about Bob Dylan’s infamous 1965 set at the Newport Folk Festival. That night, Dylan went electric, and people hated it! They felt betrayed.

Now, I would never dream of comparing Elm Treason to Dylan, but we kind of went through a similar experience…but in reverse.

Bobby and I were never a band in the classic sense. We can play multiple instruments, so we made the conscious decision to record as a duo.

Our first album, Days of Reaction, was originally going to be a “conventional” rock album – electric guitars, drums, bass, so on. We quickly recorded a few tunes and shared them online.

Before we knew it, we got an offer to perform on local TV. We accepted, because duh, ya don’t turn down TV!

But there was a problem. How to perform these songs with just the two of us?

Then, epiphany!

Our starting point for writing and jamming was almost always with two acoustic guitars, face to face. In that spirit, we chose to reshape our rock/power pop vibe by moving it into the acoustic realm and crafting new arrangements that could be reproduced faithfully.

Over the next few weeks, we reworked our songs to be both percussive and melodic. One thing couldn’t change, however: they still had to rock. We weren’t going Joni Mitchell here. (No offense, Joni!)

When the big day finally came, it felt really good. We were seriously energized. It was a huge success! Loving the new arrangements more than the originals, we hit the studio to re-cut a few of the tracks. We then shared them with some select fans.

 

Chances are, if you’re a music nerd like me, you know all about Bob Dylan’s infamous 1965 set at the Newport Folk Festival. That night, Dylan went electric, and people hated it! They felt betrayed.

Now, I would never dream of comparing Elm Treason to Dylan, but we kind of went through a similar experience…but in reverse.

Bobby and I were never a band in the classic sense. We can play multiple instruments, so we made the conscious decision to record as a duo.

Our first album, Days of Reaction, was originally going to be a “conventional” rock album – electric guitars, drums, bass, so on. We quickly recorded a few tunes and shared them online.

Before we knew it, we got an offer to perform on local TV. We accepted, because duh, ya don’t turn down TV!

But there was a problem. How to perform these songs with just the two of us?

Then, epiphany!

Our starting point for writing and jamming was almost always with two acoustic guitars, face to face. In that spirit, we chose to reshape our rock/power pop vibe by moving it into the acoustic realm and crafting new arrangements that could be reproduced faithfully.

Over the next few weeks, we reworked our songs to be both percussive and melodic. One thing couldn’t change, however: they still had to rock. We weren’t going Joni Mitchell here. (No offense, Joni!)

When the big day finally came, it felt really good. We were seriously energized. It was a huge success! Loving the new arrangements more than the originals, we hit the studio to re-cut a few of the tracks. We then shared them with some select fans.

 

Chances are, if you’re a music nerd like me, you know all about Bob Dylan’s infamous 1965 set at the Newport Folk Festival. That night, Dylan went electric, and people hated it! They felt betrayed.

Now, I would never dream of comparing Elm Treason to Dylan, but we kind of went through a similar experience…but in reverse.

Bobby and I were never a band in the classic sense. We can play multiple instruments, so we made the conscious decision to record as a duo.

Our first album, Days of Reaction, was originally going to be a “conventional” rock album – electric guitars, drums, bass, so on. We quickly recorded a few tunes and shared them online.

Before we knew it, we got an offer to perform on local TV. We accepted, because duh, ya don’t turn down TV!

But there was a problem. How to perform these songs with just the two of us?

Then, epiphany!

Our starting point for writing and jamming was almost always with two acoustic guitars, face to face. In that spirit, we chose to reshape our rock/power pop vibe by moving it into the acoustic realm and crafting new arrangements that could be reproduced faithfully.

Over the next few weeks, we reworked our songs to be both percussive and melodic. One thing couldn’t change, however: they still had to rock. We weren’t going Joni Mitchell here. (No offense, Joni!)

When the big day finally came, it felt really good. We were seriously energized. It was a huge success! Loving the new arrangements more than the originals, we hit the studio to re-cut a few of the tracks. We then shared them with some select fans.

 

That’s when everything changed. 

All of a sudden, it was our own “Newport 65.” We were told that going acoustic was a “lightweight” move that would kill our credibility. One girl on Twitter said she felt “betrayed.”

Wait, betrayed?? Many others “unfollowed.”  Wow, we thought. That didn’t go well.

Then we caught hell from the other side.

We played an open mic in Brooklyn, failing to realize that the venue took the word “acoustic” to mean “folk.” We’re talking a classic folk vibe. Patchouli and incense. The whole nine yards.

Forgive the pun, but they were incensed.

That’s not what acoustic guitars were meant to do!” they cried – not at that venue, anyway. Someone literally yelled the word “blasphemy!”

What planet were we on?

We were pretty discouraged for a while. It was like we suddenly lost everything. We almost packed it in, frankly.

Then, one day out of the blue, we got a message that was like a life preserver. Someone told us that the new version of “Days of Reaction” was “the funkiest acoustic thing he’d ever heard” and he was sharing it with some friends. 

Within days, more positive feedback came in. Then more.

Feeling recharged and vindicated, we re-recorded the tracks of our official first album DAYS OF REACTION” in this new style. Within a year, we had five times as many fans as we had “alienated.” 

Today, we have more friends and fans than we ever could have imagined.

We won’t question our instincts again. I can promise you that.

That’s when everything changed. 

All of a sudden, it was our own “Newport 65.” We were told that going acoustic was a “lightweight” move that would kill our credibility. One girl on Twitter said she felt “betrayed.”

Wait, betrayed?? Many others “unfollowed.”  Wow, we thought. That didn’t go well.

Then we caught hell from the other side.

We played an open mic in Brooklyn, failing to realize that the venue took the word “acoustic” to mean “folk.” We’re talking a classic folk vibe. Patchouli and incense. The whole nine yards.

Forgive the pun, but they were incensed.

That’s not what acoustic guitars were meant to do!” they cried – not at that venue, anyway. Someone literally yelled the word “blasphemy!”

What planet were we on?

We were pretty discouraged for a while. It was like we suddenly lost everything. We almost packed it in, frankly.

Then, one day out of the blue, we got a message that was like a life preserver. Someone told us that the new version of “Days of Reaction” was “the funkiest acoustic thing he’d ever heard” and he was sharing it with some friends. 

Within days, more positive feedback came in. Then more.

Feeling recharged and vindicated, we re-recorded the tracks of our official first album DAYS OF REACTION” in this new style. Within a year, we had five times as many fans as we had “alienated.” 

Today, we have more friends and fans than we ever could have imagined.

We won’t question our instincts again. I can promise you that.