usual ways

The new album from Revolutionary Lion

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Usual Ways

by Revolutionary Lion

the story behind "usual ways"

October, 2016

It was in the late summer of 2015 that we decided make a record of the songs that we’d been writing throughout the year. I thought, this should take a few months to do...and now I see that I will apparently never learn. Three months turned into six, which then turned into a year. So here we are - we’ve covered all the seasons with the writing, recording, re-writing, re-recording, and mixing of these 12 songs. Through all of that was the infinite patience of Ben, Rob, and Melissa, who have not only endured the many months of recording but also the sometimes-comical annoyance of working through these new songs in practice: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to explain a drum part to Ben by doing my best mouth drum sound effects (with my arms flailing, and a confused look on his face), embarrassingly off-key harmony parts to Melissa, or vague ideas that Rob brilliantly used (or didn’t) for his bass lines. Such is the language of music, when you mostly speak guitar. But, we’ve all found a way to get our points across.


The album itself - I suppose it’s best to begin with the music we love. It's safe to say that all of our musical tastes are fairly eclectic, and I think that the songs we wrote are both a conscious and subconscious reflection of that. To just play “rock” or blues or whatever seems boring, especially when, by now, we have such a vast catalog of brilliant music and musicians to know and to learn from. There’s a certain liberation in that. In the end, my approach to these songs has been to explore interesting, unconventional sounds (even if they’re only unconventional only to me), and make them fun to play. Because of that, these songs don’t necessarily have an intentional stylistic narrative that I can hear - maybe you can. Or maybe it’s just that I love American music, and that’s all there is to it, no matter when it was put down to paper/wax/hard drives. We’ve been trying to find and create music that makes us feel something, that we’re all contributing to. What ends up coming out in this album is a mash of exhilaration, frustration, satisfaction, anger, joy...the full gamut of experiences that we’ve gone through over the past year, and in our lives.


Many times, I’ve told myself that this would be the last time I would attempt to write and record an “album,” which was helpful motivation over these months - trying to get the most out every song, and every part. Whether or not this is in fact the last one ends up being rather irrelevant, but at the very least, it’s enormously satisfying to know that our new songs have a maturity and sense of purpose that I haven’t heard from our songs before. We’re getting better at this. Some bands and songwriters can find their voice before they hit the legal drinking age, and sometimes it just takes a few (13) years longer. Oh well. I love the way these songs sound, how they come together in unexpected ways, how everyone that played on the record made such an indelible mark on it. 


This note wouldn’t be complete without a most formal and heartfelt thank you to Rob Weinstock (bass), Melissa Curtis (vocals, keyboard), and Ben Hornor (drums, percussion), who with me make up Revolutionary Lion, and created this album. Each of these people are so brilliantly talented and are such fine souls that it makes being around them and playing music with them a true pleasure. I also want to thank Josh Rzepka, who contributed an incredible, soulful trumpet solo to the outro of “Usual Ways” (the song). For the second album in a row, we’d like to thank Jack Muldowney for his ideas and final design of the artwork for “Usual Ways.” Lastly, a huge thanks to our families and loved ones that spared us for so many hours over the past year. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say that it’s you more than anyone that we hope can enjoy what we’ve put together here.



Our bio: We're a four-piece band out of Chicago that's been playing together - all four of us - since the summer of 2013. Ben (drums) and Ted (vocals, guitar) have been together in various bands for longer than we'd care to quantify; Melissa joined us through a complicated web of "it's-a-small-world" kind of connections; and Rob was the best-ever find on Craigslist after moving to Chicago from New York. 

We sound like a lot of things and genres and so on because we all listen to and love a lot of different music. There's some rock, blues, soul, country, etc. in there. We can't help but take some cues from this fine city that we live in, from the music that's been created here, the slushy winters and muggy summers, the rumbling trains and the rest of it. We put out a new new album, "Usual Ways," in 2016 and previously released another album, "Bring a Light," in 2013.

From left to right: Rob Weinstock (bass), Melissa Curtis (vocals, keyboard), Ted Schuster (vocals, guitar), Ben Hornor (percussion)

From left to right: Rob Weinstock (bass), Melissa Curtis (vocals, keyboard), Ted Schuster (vocals, guitar), Ben Hornor (percussion)

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