Somewhere back in the darkness that was the 80s, Mark Davison and Woody Lissauer were introduced. Their mutual friend was the late Sam Prager, manager of the Chrysalis band, Vigil. The two immediately began collaborating on their first song, “Dancing in the Dark”.
Eventually, the duo enlisted producer Pete Solley to help with production. Pete had enjoyed success with several groups, among them, The Romantics and Oingo Boingo. Across the River was first released as a 4 song EP on vinyl, then as a 10 song CD in 1991. The CD was culled from several years of recording and featured appearances of such performers as the Weathergirls who sang backup on 3 songs. Two of those songs are on the first record, the third, “Something to Show”, was included in the Warren Miller feature film, “Extreme Winter”.
By this time, Cubic Feet was performing live, as well as in the studio. They played club dates in the Baltimore / Washington area and New York and music conferences like the New Music Seminar and CMJ.
Passenger in Time, the second CD, saw the group getting away from synthesizers to a more guitar-oriented sound. A video was made for the song “Bitter Pill” and received much airplay, making CMJ’s top twenty. The band continued to tour, playing festivals as far away as South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.
For the third CD, Inside Rail, the band took a leaner, meaner approach, eschewing keyboards altogether and toughening up the guitar sound. Twenty-one tracks were recorded within two years and the best thirteen (including one hidden track) wound up on the record. “Monkey” and “Lighter” were well received on the radio and the band played on.
The release of their fourth album, Superconnector, found Cubic Feet, once more, broadening their musical palette. A recently acquired Hammond organ looms large in the musical landscape and Brian Simms and Pete Solley make it come to life. Woody plays mandolin on two tracks. “All is Good” features the band’s first use of violin and cello. Accordion comes in on “Save the World” and “Isabella Rossellini”.
Superconnector was released on the auspicious date 9/11/01! The band had recently returned from a high profile date playing in front of music directors, DJs, and radio promoters at the Gavin AAA Convention in Boulder, CO. Big moments on tour included a string of dates in St. Thomas, USVI, which culminated in Cubic Feet performing at Pirate Radio’s First Annual Birthday Bash on the beach at Bolongo Bay. Another highlight was the outlaw party at Kenichi for SXSW in Austin.
The Living End – then and now is the latest Cubic release. It incorporates some of the “best of” the group’s 4 cds in 13 tracks on disc 1 – all remastered at Gateway Mastering in Maine. Disc 2 has 8 new and previously unreleased recordings including the new single, “Living End.” The band will reunite for the Dewey Beach Jamfest in Delaware and other dates. You can listen to the tracks under THE LIVING END in the AUDIOsection of this site.
“Across the River”
Before we worked with Pete Solley, Woody and I were in New York recording an earlier version of “Put me out of my pain”, with producer Stephan Galfas. The studio had a 9’ grand piano and, over the course of the session, Woody came up with this beautiful, sad melody.
The song still had no words when I went over to his house a few weeks later. As he played me a cassette of the song, the floodgates opened. Words came to mind so quickly I had trouble writing everything down. I wrote frantically for an hour, finding myself late for an important family function.
I was not conscious of doing so at the time, but I had used the song to express the loss I felt over the end of a long-term relationship. I had called her “little thing” – hence the line, “chasing after little things, bigger things were lost.”
We originally recorded the song with voice and piano, and then redid it with a full band for the CD.
The band was offered a chance to play at a party for 30 or 40 au pair girls. After some reluctance, Woody agreed to play for free. There, he met Natasha, a French au pair who spoke little English. They would date for over a year.
Woody had a habit of writing songs containing his girlfriend’s names so it wasn’t long before he brought in an upbeat number with the lyrics, “talk to Natasha”, solely.
Natasha was a bit mischievous, with a lot of experience packed into her few years. I had plenty of material to draw from, when it came time to fill in the lyrics.
I had recently returned from skiing and snowboarding in British Columbia. Woody came over after dinner to work on songs. We were talking about my trip and I was strumming a chord progression when Woody joined in with, “I went up to Vancouver.” It started out as a joke, but before long, we had a B section and a chorus to go with our verse. I had spent some time hanging out in Portland that fall, and that worked into the song as well.
I worked on the words in the weeks to follow. When it was time to record, we added organ and harmonica, for a Dylanesque feel.
Isabella Rossellini is SO beautiful, I was even a little teary, seeing her in some super-sad close-up, and this song came right out.
Then through a year of pre-production and de-production, Mark and I wrote about a zillion versions of it, culminating in this sophisticated arrangement, with a little Burt Bacharach-like turnaround after the first chorus.
“Long Way Home”
I was at a bar and a friend was telling me how he was a pilot and used to fly bombing missions in Vietnam. The fact that he considered it one of the highlights of his life and still owned an M-16 was somewhat disturbing.
Woody and I had been working on a song with the lyrics, “long way home.” With some poetic license, Roger’s story found it’s way to song.