Corda sees ‘St. Somewhere’ as both an end, and beginning with No Account
With his new album “St. Somewhere,” Great Falls musician Joel Corda puts a new spin on the old saying, “If you love something, let it go.”
While the songs were written by Corda, he’s found letting go of control over how they should sound has helped the album become something greater than what Corda could have done himself.
You can get your first chance to hear Corda, 41, and his new group No Account on Nov. 22 at Bowser Brewing Co from 5 to 8 p.m.
The No Account Wheat Beer also will be brewed for the occasion. The album will be officially released on Nov. 25 but Corda said they hope to have copies of the album at the listening party.
As for giving things up, it’s not that Corda loves control, necessarily, but instead he’s very passionate about his music, which in turn becomes an extension of who he is as an artist.
He’s now found that he can trust the people around him to help finish the album’s concepts.
“In the old days I’d tell people exactly what to play,” he said. “Talk about control, I think giving that up and letting people do the best job they can do is the smartest thing I’ve ever done because these guys I’m playing with are playing things I’ve never dreamed of. You let them do it and they’re going to surprise you.”
‘These guys’ Corda refers to are fellow Great Falls artists Dusty Peterson, Steve Olson, Lindsey Nussbaum, Nikki Herzog and producer Matt Johnson.
They perform a variety of instruments including electric and rhythm guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, didgeridoo, violin and accordion. Corda also is music and choral teacher at C.M. Russell High School, along with Olson. Corda also recently produced the Miss Linda Productions showing of “The Sound of Music,” which they will reprise next year.
Corda said the group’s name was taken from a fellow teacher of his at CMR, Jeremy Comstock.
“(Jeremy) wanted to name a band so he could refer to everyone as no account, like ‘no account bass player or, ‘my no account singer,'” Corda said. “I always loved it and I asked him if I could steal it. He said he thought that was great.”
As for the album, Corda said it’s sound could be best described as a blend of original singer/songwriter tunes. He also said each of the artists in No Account could easily lead a band of their own.
“It’s just a collection of really great musicians,” he said. “… I’d be the first to admit that these guys are holding me up.”
Corda said part of the excitement attached to performing these songs live will be that Corda said he’s not even sure if the recorded versions will be the definitive version of the songs. He said while the structure of the songs will stay the same, the takes on how they are played could feasibly change each time they’re played.
“That’s really exciting,” Corda said. “I don’t know what will be the best version, but I know they’ll be great.”
Which isn’t to say that they don’t consider the recorded songs to be less than brilliant either.
In fact, each of the band members say Johnson, the album’s producer, has been just as crucial to the album, and by extension the band, as anyone else. In addition to producing, he also plays the drums.
“It’s awesome to work with Matt,” Olson said. “It’s cool in that working with him, it’s like the way I feel with musicians. When you get interviewed about what you do, all this disconnected stuff comes out and starts making sense together, and in a way that’s what Matt does for us. He’s a translator in a way.”
Corda added that after working with Johnson he doesn’t want to work with anyone else when it comes to studio work.
“That’s not to disparage the other folks I’ve worked with, but I met Matt when we were doing theater together and as soon as I walked up here (into his studio), he knew my voice, which is problematic for a lot of studios because I’m trained operatically,” Corda said. “But, Matt gets most of my depth in his recording, and he’s a cool guy on top of that.”
If it sounds like Corda has been around the block a time or two, it’s because he has. He’s been writing songs since he was in high school, where he played drums together in a band with Great Falls High’s most famous graduate, Reggie Watts.
Corda’s last band, Everybody’s Dog, was named as such because there were various musicians who would come and go throughout the course of the band’s history, which started while he was attending the University of Idaho. You’ll be able to check out Everbody’s Dog’s album on joelcorda.com, as well.
Corda said when it comes to explaining his sound, he looks up to such artists as Bruce Springsteen, whom he’s seen seven times in concert, Johnny Cash, and others. Corda’s son’s name is Bruce, which he freely admits is in tribute of Mr. Springsteen.
“When it comes to storytelling, song structure, giving a crap, yeah I’ll take (Springsteen’s) cues,” Corda said. “I’d go to his boot camp, or his band camp if you will. I take cues from all of those guys — Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, I’ll take cues from the Old 97s who gave one of the best shows I’ve ever seen in a small club, or Ryan Adams, and U2, even because the fact is they put on an amazing show even when their albums suck. They still elevate the format.”
Corda said now that the recording part of the process is finished, he must now begin what he deems as the difficult part of the journey in being a musician – talking about himself and selling his art to the world.
“I have to embrace it, and I have to sell myself, which is the part of being an artist that I don’t like,” he said.
Corda also said that the sales of the album will help he and Olson pay to finish his movie project which he hopes to continue working on this spring.
And while technically the album might be “finished” he said he’s not about to stop and admire the work they’ve done thus far.
“I have 20 songs right now that aren’t recorded yet, and those are complete songs, not snippets, I don’t even know how many of those there are” he said. “We could feasibly get back into the studio and keep recording. I just want to keep recording with this band and I want to help get their stuff out there, too. Steve’s a composer, Lindsey’s a composer, Nikki and Dusty have written songs before … so I want to do a thing a week, whether it’s recording a song or doing a video for a song. It’s fairly ambitious because we all have day jobs, but ideally it all feeds itself and this is the start of that process.”
For more on No Account, keep checking back here at Big Sky State Buzz for exclusive listens of the album and releases of Corda’s videos as they are released.
“St. Somewhere” will be available at local businesses such as Bowser, Pizazz, Schulte’s and Retrofix Gaming, along with national distrobution sites Amazon, Spotify and iTunes.