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Definitely Gary’s Kinda Sorta New Deal
By Sean Smith
Fort Wayne Reader
When Definitely Gary took the stage at Columbia Street to premiere their new album The New Deal, it wasn’t just the audience that was hearing the album for the first time — some of the band hadn’t quite heard the album in its entirety either.
It probably has a little to do with the unusual recording process for the album. The original tracks were laid down in the summer of 2004, only to be re-recorded in the fall of 2005, both times at Ozone studios. After sitting down and listening to the ‘04 recordings, the band decided that several tracks were in need of touching up, so Zach Smith (guitar and vocals) and Casey Stansifer (bass and vocals) went back and cleaned up some of their vocals and tweaked some guitar and bass portions. This is why Jon Ross, drummer extraordinaire, hears the new songs and is just as blown away as his audience, “When I listen back to the album, I hear things and I think to myself, ‘I forgot we did that!’”
The main difference between the last album and this release was the conscious decision to create a true album with an overall feel. This is evident in the mini-songs that sprang from numerous jam sessions. The band decided to use all of the best bits of melodies that popped up and were a little too special to just get swept under the rug. “We decided to use the best of those moments as little segues between the songs,” says Ross.
According to Ross, the first album was just a hodge-podge of songs, whereas The New Deal is a collection of songs that really benefit from being grouped together on the album.
The only real goal that the guys had in mind while making the album was to make each other laugh. Jon and Casey have been in bands together for as long as they can remember and they’ve both vibed off the same sensibilities and humor, so if either one can make the other laugh, then they know they’ve done their job and that the song is usually a keeper. “Of course Primus is an influence, on all of us, and if anyone can honestly hear that in our music, then that is a great thing. I consider it a huge compliment,” says Ross. But he also finds huge inspiration in Elvis Costello and the band overall finds early Police records to be a great source of influence as well. Zappa is also someone that had an effect on Jon at an early age and is the reason that he aims to write songs that are ‘listenable, but weird.’
Speaking of weird, if you’d like to see Jon freak out, simply ask him to play the tambourine. “Tambourine is hard to play! Both doing it well and on time, it’s painful,” complains Ross. “Luckily, I’ll never have to worry about playing that on stage!”
Which brings us back to that Columbia Street performance. When it’s brought up, Jon smiles and says, “Yeah, we ended up playing the entire Definitely Gary catalog that night. The entire first album front to back, followed up by the new one. It also marked the return of Casey’s dinosaur costume. Always a crowd favorite. Unfortunately the only downside of the evening was the clap-off. Everyone lost that night … including the audience!”