High Road Interview: Part I

16 03 2010

Sweet Iced Tea: We’ll talk today about the technical side of being in a band, the many instruments you all play, how the band was formed, and the recording process. As I just mentioned, I know you all play instruments. What instruments do you play, and when did you begin playing?

Larry: I studied piano from 5th to 8th grade, and began playing trumpet in the 7th grade and played through high school and college. I also played percussion in college and now play Celtic bodhran and other percussion instruments in High Road.

Cecily: I began violin a month before my 3rd birthday. The Lord’s hand was definitely at work through my parents’ decision to put me in violin and to stick with it for so many years, even when I begged to quit. I am very grateful for their perseverance and dedication through the years!

Mollie: I play the flute, penney whistle and a little guitar and piano.

Jesse: I play Bass and various percussion instruments.

Noah: I play cello, bass, hammered dulcimer and accordion with High Road.  I also play piano outside of High Road.  Growing up I always took cello and piano lessons, but bass, hammered dulcimer and accordion were all instruments I picked up specifically for High Road.

Rose: I play flute, hammered dulcimer, and Penny Whistle-only when Mollie can’t. Flute I’ve been playing for over 6 years, Hammered Dulcimer and Penny whistle I’ve picked up since we started High Road.

SIT: I love how a few of them say they’ve “picked up” an instrument.

David: I primarily play the Djembe, and extra percussion in the group.  I began playing drums at the age of nine, and started to take lessons and become serious at the age of twelve.

SIT: I secretly know the stories of how you all met, but for our readers out there, tell us how you all know each other.

Larry: I met Mollie on 10/26/85, David on 9/30/88, Jesse on 10/21/90, and Rose on 1/12/93!  These first four folks I met on the day of their birth. [SIT: He’s their dad.] I have known Cecily since she was 7 or 8 years old.  She studied violin in the University of Memphis Suzuki program along with my niece.  When I met Noah he was playing cello with the Bellevue Baptist Church Orchestra. I got to know Ben when he traveled with me on a Junior High Choir Tour, playing guitar for the Tour band I was directing that year.

Cecily: I have been blessed to have very long term relationships with most of the people in this group. All of the Anderson’s have been in my life since I can remember. I grew up with them – playing at their house, hanging out with them and their cousins and even toting around some of the younger band member Andersons (who shall remain nameless) when they were still babies!

Mollie: Most of the members are in my family…music has always been a huge part of our growing up years (putting on “plays” for each other, singing, playing around with harmony, etc.)  I know the non-Anderson-members, Cecily, Noah and Ben from growing up at Bellevue together.  More specifically, Cecily is an old friend of the family and my sister-in-law’s best friend.  I met Ben at Bellevue when I was in the 11th grade, he quickly became my boyfriend, and since he has joined High Road, he has become my fiancé.  We are to be married in May 2010!

SIT: Told you these folks are intertwined in a way we all wish we had friends this good!

Jesse: All but 2 members are in my family. I have known Cecily and Ben forever, all of us having grown up at Bellevue.

Noah: I’ll be honest and say I don’t remember how I met anybody in the group.

Rose: My dad started the group.  Half of my family is in the group, so of course I’ve known them all my life! Cecily I’ve known for a long time; our families are good friends who met through our church and us both living in Arlington! I first met Ben (guitarist) at Bellevue, and he is now the fiancé of my sister, soo I’ve gotten to know him quite well. Noah (cellist, etc)-the only other member of our group not in my family-has been friends with my brothers since before we started High Road, but I didn’t really get to know him till after that. He’s awesome! I really like everyone in High Road.

David: We have all knew each other through the music program at Bellevue Baptist church, but we have also been family friends for years before we decided to form the group.  We all share a love for Celtic music.

SIT: And as this is a hobby, most of you have “day jobs.” What do you do, outside of playing with High Road?

Larry: I am a salesman in advertising specialties with my dad, creating and producing promotions using all types of items for our customers incorporating custom graphic designs.  My daughter Mollie and my wife are our lead artists, and my son Jesse has begun to work with me in sales.

Cecily: I have taught Suzuki violin privately for 10 years through Bellevue’s Performing Arts Center. After graduating college in 2005 I came on staff at Bellevue as the String Coordinator for the PAC and in September 2009 took over as Director of the entire school, newly renamed the Bellevue School of Performing Arts. 

Mollie: I am finishing up my masters in vocal performance at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, as well as teaching voice and flute through Bellevue’s School of Performing Arts.  I also do graphic design work for Larry Anderson Associates (My dad’s specialty advertising company).

Jesse: I’m a full time student at University of Memphis and I work for my dad’s company as well as on BBC’s grounds-crew during the summer.

Noah: I am a senior communications major at the University of Memphis.  I also work part time at Bellevue Baptist Church in the Media department.

Rose: I am in high school–this is my Junior year.

David: I work in the music department at Bellevue, and down in the kitchen prepping in culinary arts (which is my major in college).

SIT: You recorded a CD in 2008. Describe what that process was like. What were the highs and lows of turning music into a recording – who arranged the pieces, how did you decide which songs to include?

Larry: We recorded the songs we loved to perform the most, and that we’ve been touched by spiritually, like “Road to Lisdoonvarna” and “How Deep the Father’s Love”.  Most all of our arrangements on this album are collaborative efforts.  We usually work together with input from first this guy then that gal.  Generally, one person is in charge of a particular song, and then another person for the next song, etc.  The exception on this album is “Emavolea”, which is 90% Mollie’s creation.  Recording has been a mostly fun/hard work/sometimes testing experience.  Because we were doing everything ourselves with Noah as chief engineer and because we had to catch assorted evenings when we could, it took several months to complete.  I remember one night we were at it late and everyone had work or school the next morning. We wanted to finish a particular song but had run into sort of a performers’ block and emotions were running a little high.  We took a break and gathered around a fake fireplace insert we found in the studio.  (Like we were roasting marshmallows) After laughing together, we prayed and were able to finish it up.

Cecily: Since we all do have day jobs or are in school it was a huge task to complete this project. Our spare time is very limited and so that was certainly a challenge. Although it was a challenge it was a fun process and one that we all collaborated in. We were blessed to be able to use our church’s recording equipment and facilities but we did all the recording and producing ourselves. As for arranging, once again, a pretty collaborative effort. Collaborations always have their challenges but all in all we have a wonderful time doing it.

Mollie: It was a challenging but rewarding process.  We would record as much as we could as a group, then go back to the studio for individual sessions to correct minor (or sometimes major) problems with the initial group recordings.  Most of the pieces we recorded are arranged by High Road, as we have a very unusual assortment of instruments.  I wrote a piece called Emmavonlea.  We tried to include a mix of traditional Celtic jigs and reels (Road to Lisdoonvarna, Harvest Home) along with more contemporary pieces (Be Unto Your Name, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us), hymns, and original pieces (Emmavonlea).  While the process was tedious at times, recording together made us listen more critically and pay more attention to balance and the details in each piece.  I believe we actually sharpened our sound through the recording process, as well as learned to listen in a whole new way during live performances.

Noah: The process of recording the CD was a (what at least seemed like) an extremely long process.  Looking back at it now, we were actually able to pull it together pretty quickly (about 6 months).  The fun thing about the CD was that we did everything on it.  We recorded, designed the artwork for the cover and everything ourselves.  It was really rewarding to be able to pull it all together and to actually have a final CD.

We spent a lot of time trying to decide what songs should and shouldn’t be on the CD.  We actually recorded 2 or 3 songs that ended up getting cut from the final CD.

Everybody in the group was able to put in a little bit of their own ideas into each of our songs, so everything that we recorded was very unique to us.

David: Recording our first CD was…grueling! We had just come off of a break and went straight into recording, so our playing was a little rough and I didn’t really know what to expect-this being my first CD to record. We pretty much put everything on the CD that we had worked up since we started the group. We focused on the Christian songs we had worked up with our favorite jigs and reels stuck in between. We really wanted this CD to be uplifting to the listener! Each song we do, we try to kind of “High Roadafy” it…Somebody in the group will bring a song in that they like, and we’ll all work together, building on it till we think it’s finished. Noah Sidhom did the recording–which can be hard since he has to play in almost every song as well! Since we did everything about this CD ourselves, we had to work hard to make it really good quality. We put a lot of hours into it with redoes, late hours editing with Noah, and lots of pre-release listenings and changes. The finished product: success! It was a great time getting to know each other and building each other up. We made it through, and I personally am very grateful for the whole experience. I think we learned quite a few things that will help us out tremendously on our next CD!

SIT: And I happen to have inside information that material has been recorded for a new CD!

David: Hearing the finished result was definitely the high, all the time it took was the low.

SIT: Thanks, y’all! That’s all for today, but tomorrow, we’ll talk a bit about the music muses. See you all back here then!

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