Back in the day compilations were all the rage. They were a good way to get your name out to lots of people without having to pay for and produce a full record. Plus, if a person picks up the album for another band, but then falls in love with your song, you have just gained another fan. The compilation turned into the split EP and then sort of faded away. My favorite compilations to come out of Detroit were the Unity Crew comps that we put out when Idle Kids Records was open. They featured Detroit music and artists coming together for the purpose of rocking and rolling.
Thankfully, someone decided to resurrect that idea and put out a good old Detroit compilation to help get the word out about music and artists that are active in our community today. Josh from The ILL Itches and his friend & band manager Lee Majors got together and produced a compilation called The Pathetic Sounds of Detroit. They forwarded us a copy a few weeks ago and all three of us loved it. I was happy that they featured some of our local favorites, including The ILL Itches, The HandGrenades and Emily Rose, but it also turned me on to some acts I wasn't as familiar with, like Hit Society and The Boy Wonders. This album feels like Detroit. It feels raw, hopeful, sad, and gritty all at the same time, kind of like our city. It would be fair to say that this album captures a good picture of the up and coming acts that are out at the clubs and bars performing every weekend.
The compilation is being released to the world this Saturday with a special show at P.J’s Lager House. The show is $7 at the door, but it entitles you to one copy of the record with a download card. Plus, you can see quite a few of the bands from the album performing, including The HandGrenades, The Ashley's, White Shag, The ILL Itches, Citizen Smile, Patrick Davy & the Ghosts, Nam Kook & the Typhoon, Hit Society, The Bad Mics and Emily Rose. We asked Josh and Lee to tell us more about the idea behind this album and the bands that are featured on it.
Hip In Detroit- Who came up with the idea for this compilation?
Josh- "I came up with the idea of doing a compilation around December of 2011. I wanted to do something that brought Detroit bands together, and I wanted to do something cool with a lot of bands that sounded like a full album. Lee Majors and I got together and put together some bands that we felt would be good on the album."
Hip In Detroit- Why did you name it The Pathetic Sounds of Detroit?
Josh- "That was actually Ben Blackwell that came up with that. We asked him about a name idea that paid homage to Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit, and he came up with that one. We really liked the name, so we went with it."
Lee- "As Josh probably stated, he brought up the idea to me last year. I had owned a record store when The Sympathetic Sounds Of Detroit came out from Jack White which we did really well with. I thought it was a great idea to do some kind of follow up/companion piece since there's such great music coming out of the Detroit area now."
Hip In Detroit- How did you pick the bands for the album?
Josh- "That was a long process actually. I think the first band I had picked for it was The Bad Mics. From there, Lee Majors and I went to a lot of shows and watched a lot of bands. We picked bands that we felt would sound good together on an album and built it with that in mind."
Lee- "We picked the bands based on thinking, 'would other people get into what they're doing?' Several different styles of music are represented here so there's something for everybody."
Hip In Detroit- Was this album recorded to tape or digital. It sounds like tape to us?
Josh- "It was all tape. From the get go, we made some rules to follow and worked directly with tape the entire process. We did it on an 80's 1/4" 8-track tape deck and mixed onto another 1/4" deck. We felt that landed itself better to the sound we were trying to capture. A lot of bands on the album hadn't worked with tape before, and almost all of them hadn't worked on just 8 tracks before...so it was a really cool process of planning with the band how we wanted to capture their song's energy with as limited means as possible."
Hip In Detroit- Tell us about the artwork for the album? Who drew it? What's the idea behind it?
Josh- "The jacket artwork was done by Chelsea Schultz. She's a great artist who's worked with other bands here in Detroit. I think the idea was really limited...I said I wanted something that showed an image of Detroit, but with a positive undertone and idea behind it. She came up with a few designs and what we used we felt was the best after giving a good listen to the album over a few weeks. She was given the music beforehand to help her get the feel right and I feel she did a great job with it. For any more specific questions, it's better to ask her. She did a great job."
Hip In Detroit- Where will this compilation be available? How much will it cost?
Josh- "The compilation will be released on June 8 at PJ's Lager House at 9 PM. There's a $7 cover charge, but that cost includes a copy of the album plus the chance to see 10 of the bands perform live at the release show. We're planning on releasing special copies of it just at the release show, and we'll have some copies at local record shops in limited quantities after the release."
Hip In Detroit- What's your favorite song on the album?
Josh- "My personal favorite? I think they're all great songs, it's really hard to pick a favorite one. They all have their own stories, and all were interesting in their own way when recording. I really like The Bad Mics' song, it was the first one we did I think, and it was really cool to hear it performed and finally see all that preparation turn into something tangible. Citizen Smile was great, Patrick Davy & the Ghosts were awesome, and Nam Kook & the Typhoon probably surprised me the most by how it sounded in the end. All the songs are really good, so it's impossible to pick a favorite one. I think all the songs work really well as a whole on the album, and that's how everyone should listen to them."
Lee- "It's hard to pick a favorite track, but I might go with Emily Rose because her contribution is just so moving and beautiful and a great way to close out the album."
Hip In Detroit- Will you do any more compilations in the future?
Josh- "We'll see. Honestly, this project was extremely time-consuming and tiring. It was the most work I've ever had to personally put into something. I have a few ideas for future projects and will probably wait until after I see how this one does to decide which one I'll go forward with. In the end, I like working on new projects and will probably do something if I feel that it'll help out the Detroit music scene at all."
The Lager House is located at 1254 Michigan Ave. in Detroit. Doors for Saturday's show open at 8 p.m.!