Vocals, Guitar / Geoff Metts
Bass, Vocals / Dain Ryan
Drums, Vocals / Mike Collins
Portland, Oregon rock ‘n’ roll trio, Metts, Ryan, & Collins (named after vocalist/guitarist Geoff Metts, bassist/vocalist Dain Ryan, and drummer/vocalist Mike Collins) follow up their four-song, self-titled EP with Homegrown.
Homegrown is an eight-song collection that showcases the power trio’s blend of classic rock and blues. Calling upon influences such as The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and AC/DC, blended with modern blues-rockers Black Keys and The White Stripes, Homegrown brings it all around for Metts, Ryan, & Collins (often referred to as MRC).
Written, rehearsed, recorded, and replicated in Portland, Oregon, the aptly-titled album showcases the homegrown nature of the band, though the music does the talking with half the album recorded live to tape (a first for the band), giving the music an organic, though dynamic feel.
“Everything that we did with this record was hands on and locally sourced, including the artwork,” says frontman Geoff Metts. “The album title really represents the spirit of this album.”
Taking a cue from their favorite records – by the aforementioned bands – MRC decided to eschew using click tracks and as few edits as possible on both sides of the album (yes, vinyl lovers, it is available on vinyl). In an era where digital recording allows for complete manipulation of a band’s sound, MRC wanted to capture a feeling, a moment, and a style that transcends manipulation.
“This was the first time we recorded to tape, so it presented unique challenges for the band,” admits Metts. “We recorded live in the same room, so there wasn’t an effective way to edit the performances. The challenge was to get one take where the playing and energy were just right. It’s the way all of our favorite records were done and I think you can hear it when you listen to our album.”
Engineered and produced by longtime collaborator and friend, Kevin Hahn at Opal Studio, the band spent a lot of time gathering the best of new and vintage equipment to create unique tones for each instrument.
“Kevin really helped us get great performances and utilize the full stereo spectrum in mixing,” comments Metts. “Which really helped make the record for us. The highlight for the whole band is the sounds we capture on this record. The album is a mix of vintage and modern, which is exactly what we wanted it to be. Vintage and modern instruments, recording techniques, and songwriting.”
From the blues swagger and punchy rhythm section of “Blues Train,” the sleazy rock grit of “Got Your Number,” and the 70s-era guitar-fuel of “Right On Track,” MRC deliver a record that a lot of people aren’t making anymore, but people still crave: something that is 100% rock ‘n’ roll. Like their inspirations before them, their love of blues gets set on fire, turned upside down, and played loud with a lot of power.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” Metts says when asked why he thinks this record will resonate with people. “We believe that there are still great songs to be written and great rock ‘n’ roll albums to be recorded. We believe we are recording the soundtrack of our lives and we’re making music the way we believe it should be made. It resonates with people across borders, language barriers, and even time because it’s genuine. These songs are how we connect to the world.”
Besides recording to tape for side A of the album, another first for MRC is the addition of guest musicians, friends helping them out.
This includes Portland-area vocalist phenoms LaRhonda Steele, Terri Lynn Davis, and Michelle Linn, who helped add backing vocals to “I Think That I’m in Love,” a down-and-dirty bar rocker that is both steamy and danceable.
“In the past we have always done all the vocals ourselves but on ‘I Think That I’m in Love,’ we were hearing a female backing vocal part. It just so happens that we are friends with LaRhonda, Terri Lynn and Michelle – some of the best singers in town. They took our idea and knocked it out of the park.”
Another guest on the record is famed session and touring musician Earl Slick, who has worked with the likes of David Bowie and John Lennon.
“That’s why we recorded the second side of the album live to Pro-Tools, and not tape, so we could have Earl Slick work with us,” recalls Metts. “We wanted to do the whole thing on tape, and we originally planned to record with him in New York, but his touring schedule didn’t allow for it, so we recorded the songs in Portland and sent the tracks to him.
“He recorded his parts in New York and then we mixed and mastered them in Portland. Having him lend his talents to our record was a huge honor to us, and it was such a wonderful experience. Our drummer, Mike, had played with him prior, so when he heard some of our songs and wanted to record with us we jumped at the chance.”
One of the album’s most fitting tracks, “Oregon,” opens with the line, “Can’t stand it where you’re at, can’t go back to where you’re from. I think it’s time that you head out west, take you out to Oregon,” a song that really resonates with Metts, as it’s about his journey from Boise, Idaho to Portland, Oregon.
“That was basically the decision I was faced with after I graduated from the University of Idaho,” he recalls. “I think it resonates with a lot of people because ultimately that is how everyone wound up out west. Nobody takes a wagon across country if things are good where they are from.”
As a band, MRC always tries to push themselves to expand as artists and musicians, and with Homegrown they have done that, with the help of friends. The result is a record that captures the moment for the band, the energy and intensity they were feeling while writing and recording the eight tracks on the album.
“We had a pretty clear vision of what we wanted to do sonically – a lot of thought went into the writing, pre-production, etc. When we got to the studio we were ready to play and we mixed and mastered the same way. It was a fairly quick process, but listening back there’s nothing that we would change,” Metts says of the experience. “This is exactly the way we wanted it done. If you don’t like this…”
He pauses, before continuing, “then you don’t like rock ‘n’ roll.”
Now, they just want the record heard. “The people who know us, who have heard us in the past and heard Homegrown, they like it and I think there are a lot more of them out there. There aren’t a lot of people making music like this in 2018, but there are a growing number of people that are looking for it. Ultimately our goal is to make another record that’s even better.”
When asked to sum up the record lyrically, and if it has a theme or message running through it, Metts takes no time to answer, saying, “You’ve got the cards, play the hand and enjoy the ride.”