Bill McGarvey felt right at home recording his debut solo album, “Tell Your Mother” – literally.
The Hoboken, N.J.-based singer-songwriter-drummer cut the entire LP in his kitchen – and mixed it in the living room. He didn’t have far to go if he wanted to have a cup of coffee between takes.
“If you live in Hoboken, you don’t have a basement,” the former lead singer of Valentine Smith said recently. “After you’ve been in bands for years and you have other people to think about and you get in this position where you’re at home playing the guitar, you figure, ‘I’m just going to put down the ideas right here and minimize the distance between the idea and the execution.’
“I made most of the record in the middle of the night, lights off and recording. The acoustics are pretty good – and you can turn ‘Seinfeld’ on or some HBO while you’re recording. It’s the perfect studio setup. You have all the comfort and ease being at home.”
Like the studio setting, “Tell Your Mother” (released on April 22 through Thievery Records) is an intimate affair, drawing on McGarvey’s folk-pop roots.
“I wanted to make a quieter record,” McGarvey said. “With a band, whether you like it or not, things get bigger and louder than you might want to. I had been writing these songs and after a while it felt right to strip a lot of stuff away and make it as organic as possible, letting the song breathe there on its own.
“At the time, I was listening to a lot of records produced by Mitchell Froom, because I like the woodenness of the way he produces.”
One of the album’s finer moments is “5 O’Clock Hero,” in which a fifth-grader rushes home to tell his parents that he’s won the spelling bee, only to find his disinterested mother defrosting meat in the kitchen and his father glued to the television.
“It’s not verbatum from my youth,” McGarvey said, “but when you turn 30, you start to realize what your parents went through. So much of the pop music when I was growing up was about that youthful glimmer and taking flight.
“There was a sense that these people have grown up a bit. The kid comes home with this victory under his belt, but at home things are falling apart. It’s the typical American dream of limitless potential, but the potential really is limited. Some people come to terms with that; they realize that they’re not going to fly high and succeed.”
McGarvey may not set the world on fire with “Tell Your Mother.” He’s not worried; he just wants to get his name out there and for people to remember him.
“I want people to know who I am, hoping that they like good songs, good tunes,” he said. “I want to have a positive first impression with people. That’s the best you can expect.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: ” ‘Damn the Torpedos’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Stan Lynch was my hero. That record knocked me out.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Petty was also my first concert, at the Spectrum in Philly in 1981. I was a huge fan. I had an obstructed seat because we got the tickets real late. Stevie Nicks came out and did ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ with him. I remember being in awe that I was in the same room with Tom Petty, sharing this moment together.”
ORDER “TELL YOUR MOTHER”: Click here.
ON THE WEB: www.billmcgarvey.com.
BWF (before we forget): Upcoming tour dates – June 6, Sparta, N.J., Krogh’s.