“…crunchy power pop… if you’re into stuff like Weezer and Superdrag and Nada Surf, you should check this out.”- Brooklynvegan
Photo Credit: Erik Caballero
San Diego, CA musician RICKY (aka Ricky Schmidt) writer/singer/bassist of Western Settings and writer/bassist in Hey, Chels, has announced a November 13release date for his debut solo album ‘Palm Trees.’
The 11-track album was produced by Tyson “Chicken” Annicharico of Dead To Me,engineered by Brandon Mericle, mixed by Scott Goodrich, and features drums by Shane Hendry and vocals/co-writing by Ricky’s partner and Hey, Chels bandmate Jax.
Of the album’s first single “Escape Artist”, Ricky says, “This song is about needing to step away from the world and allow yourself time away from everything. We all need breaks and especially during a time like the one we are currently all in.”
I started writing this record with 100% focus as soon as we finished writing the last Hey, Chels LP titled ‘Everything Goes’. The oldest song dating back to 2018 is “Vietnam,” a song about running away and never coming home, a fantasy that only grew stronger since the song came into fruition. The rest of the songs started during the second half of 2019 and a couple of them didn’t find their final resting places (writing-wise) until we were in the studio recording them.
‘Palm Trees’ encompasses mid-2019 to pretty much the present time for me. I leaned hard into this project to keep me sane during this crazy year and the content is very much so relevant to the year 2020. It’s nothing groundbreaking, I don’t think, but I feel like I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. I wrote this record to remedy those feelings for myself and I hope that maybe someone will be able to listen to these songs and feel good when they do.
I think it’s important to talk about how while this may have been my first solo record, it wasn’t really all me. I had a ton of support and an amazingly talented and beautiful crew of friends who brought this thing to life. Let’s start with Shane.
Originally planning to do the drums myself, I asked Shane Hendry (long time friend and one of the best drummers I personally know who also plays in Eskera, From Scars, Reunions, and Sub Dio to name a few) about 2 months before going into the studio if he would play on it. He said yes. We locked hands and hard styled. I sent Shane the demos without drums and he sent them back with his better versions. When he sent back “Hot Summer” it had crazy bongo drums and other auxiliary percussion on it. I remember just hearing it and texting Shane telling him “more of that please”. Shane put auxiliary percussion all over all the songs and it completely changed the whole record in the best way possible. When we recorded we actually acquired all the instruments and Shane actually played all the percussion you hear on the record. He’s an incredibly talented and creative mind and this record would have been different for the worse and way less fun without him on board. I don’t know if he realizes but he’s stuck with me now for any future records.
My friend Tyson. So I’ve had the fortunate pleasure of becoming friends with and working on music with this guy named Tyson, also known as Chicken. I knew of the guy from his band Dead To Me and in some weird twist in the universe he ended up helping my band Western Settings make two records over the last 5 years. When starting on ‘Palm Trees’ I reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in producing. He said yes. Having Tyson in the studio is a pleasure. I don’t know if it’s because I was influenced by his band over the years or what but I always feel like Tyson knows exactly what I’m trying to accomplish musically and he always has the best ideas on how to achieve it. For instance, sometimes he’ll stop me during a take and ask me to do something that makes zero sense to me. I’ll do it because I trust him, forget about it, hear it later and be totally pleased. He’s top-notch. I am incredibly fortunate to have had his help on this record and to call him my friend.
Let’s talk about recording. Brandon Mericle engineered this thing. I had a meeting with Brandon and we had talked about the approach I wanted to take on the record and he knew exactly what to do. Everything he did was amazing but I was most impressed with his work on the drums. He had mics in places I didn’t know there could be mics and achieved drum sounds we all ended up being blown away by.
Scott Goodrich mixed this record. Scott has worked on a ton of really great music including his own. He’s not just an engineer. The guy is an artist in every sense of the idea. We sent him over the songs raw and pretty much told him to go to town on it. I think my initial conversation with him on the phone was literally that. “Scott, annihilate these songs.” And he did just that. So Scott was a huge part of making this record feel and sound the way it does. The tracer delay vocals, all the weird little fun stuff you hear – that’s my friend Scott Goodrich graciously making the songs so good.
My partner Jax was a huge part of this record. She’s the other person singing and doing all the “oos’’ all over the record. I kept calling her “my secret weapon” because she really is. Haha. Having Jax around to do vocals means the sky’s the limit. I can’t sing falsetto. It’s the thing I would change about myself if I could change one thing and then I would have no friends because I would just walk around all day everyday talking and singing in falsetto always. Anyways, we were able to do all those rad vocal parts because she can actually pull it off. It was funny, once we all got in the studio and Tyson realized he had the green light to put Jax in the vocal booth we all really started having fun with it. Other than lending me her voice, Jax was also the one person I had to bounce ideas off of while writing these things in my room. She’s definitely in these songs, probably more than I remember. For example, when writing “New Day” I couldn’t figure out where to go with the chorus. I played the chords on my acoustic and she sang the line and melody that ended up becoming the chorus. Jax is all over this thing.