Released July of 2015, "The Shape Under.." was originally conceived of as Mike's tribute to God and all of creation. At times heart-wrenching, at times uplifting ,Tunes like "Tree of a Million Branches" and "Living in the Dew" exhibit the brooding, the deep yearning for peace and the joyful optimism that are Mike's trademarks.
After a friend turned Mike on to the concept of public domain footage, "Tree of A Million Branches" was brought to life. Mike interwove footage from two old black and white films: a religious-themed"race" film about a young black woman who falls deathly ill and battles for her soul in hell town,"Blood of Jesus", and a documentary about a Pentecostal church in the rural south in the 1960's called"Holy Ghost People". The video was released on a Friday.
The LBE's debut album, "Find Yourself Caterpillar" has donned a lot of praise since its September soft-release with many a "stayed tuned" type of project going on as a result. See the links on the homepage if you want to contribute to some artist's continued artistry. As promised on the homepage, Mike, In his own words, tells the story of the record.
"The album was first conceived of in Brewerton, NY in 2007 during a nature walk with my good friend, Eric Tozer, and was re-conceived in Asheville, NC in 2011 at my studio apartment while looking through old photos. There was a picture of a park bench on our nature walk in 2007...2 bold letters "find Yourself" and the word "Caterpillar" with an arrow pointing to what must have once been the real thing, but was now a bold outline of a caterpillar. I thought that was the coolest thing. It had spiritual meaning, too. After I realized what would be the next albums' cover (it really wasn't) and name, the idea faded as I worked on the project I had at the time, "The Shape Under", which some of you may know.
Eventually, I had moved back home to my folks house in upstate NY and started to jam in the area again. My friend, Brian Golden (Plainman Brown) introduced me to a bunch of area musicians, one of whom was Rock and Roll HOF'er, Bobby Tousignant. Bobby and I hit it off and started gigging immediately. After the release of "The Shape Under" in 2015, The new album really set in motion with Bobby T's coercion. Bobby and I rehearsed in his basement for quite some time putting material together. Two months later, I was at my friend Mike Seppello's recording studio (ATS recording studios) with Bobby, laying down the first few drum tracks and scratch vocals/guitar.
Layer by layer, sound by sound, month by month, the album took shape. I took it on myself to start arranging too, since no one else I knew knew what I wanted in my head (that was because I didn't know yet, either). It was probably mistrust and slightly selfish perfectionism that made me do it. (Perfection-ish-ism) As it was with the rest of the album, too - not just the strings and the horns. But that's how it goes when you're afflicted with a refined taste and have no idea what's actually in the sauce.
Loads of fantastic musicians graced those studio doors including the gentlemen that have since become my band. Tom and Mike brought a musicality I couldn't be more grateful for. Years of Jazz, Blues, Rock and R&B training and oodles of love drop into each musical sentence for those two. I still look up to them as a student reveres his teacher (who also occasionally drops in a little trivia of their own). With all the fantastic musical performances I was able to get from the cast I had assembled, by grace, it was up to me to tame the sounds in post.
They rarely talk about the production that goes into an album after the last notes have been sung, and there is a reason for that - it sucks. Imagine wanting a smooth, shiny piece of obsidian about ten feet tall, and you've got a piece of ragged-ass obsidian fifteen feet tall and it's up to you to shine that sucker flawless. Aside from the inevitable pressure you and the rock are under, so too does it take a toll on your health as you use every last ounce of creativity to get that rock perfect. No, there's no such thing as perfect, but try telling me that when the hairs on my arm are standing up. Whatever the musical moment, it just has to shine!
To say I achieved everything I set out for on this album wouldn't be completely true, but there are tons of things I didn't set out for that makes me regard this record as one of the finest pieces of art I've made in my brief history as a human being. I couldn't be more grateful. "