On The Clock (2009)
Thoughts on On The Clock
By Brian O'Shaughnessy ('07-'present)
Let the adventure begin…
I will never forget the first track I ever heard by the Hyannis Sound: “Thriller” from Cape Standard Time. It was 2004, my freshman year of college, and Rob Powers and I had become friends through our college a cappella group. He introduced me to The Hyannis Sound, but I wasn’t convinced as to how good they were until he had me listen to that track. Up until that point, I had never heard anything like that. As a young college freshman I found it very inspiring to listen to, something to aspire to with my own college singing group.
After a few years passed of auditioning for the group, listening to subsequent recordings of various live Bootlegs and Route 6, and after sending them several threatening letters, they finally smartened up and let me into the group in 2007. The summer of ‘07 was a very solid group, musically. Five out of the ten guys had either been the Music Director of the Sound or their college group, while the others had either been in the Sound for more than two summers or had been singing a cappella for 2 + years in their college groups. Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to be a part of this group, mostly because this was a “coming full circle” moment for me. I was finally able to perform with the group that I had aspired to over the last few years, and I knew that by the end of the summer, I was finally going to be able to take part in creating one of those amazing studio recordings that I had been listening to for so long. It was finally my turn to take part in something that, hopefully, would one day inspire someone the way I had been inspired while a freshman in my college dorm room.
That summer we recorded the first half of the album: “Everything”, “She Talks to Angels”, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, “Falling Slowly”, “Industry”, and “Still the One”. Recording week was everything I expected and more. I found it very enjoyable because I had the opportunity to make incredibly strange and high-pitched noises, but not everyone shares my excited view when it comes to recording week. It’s always a unique experience because everyone is constantly drained from recording all day, performing in concerts at night, going home to go to bed for a few hours, and then getting up to go do it all over again for a week straight. This makes most of the guys irritable which I find incredibly entertaining when I’m sitting in a basement, bored, with nothing to do but wait for my turn to sing. None were more entertaining than Cooper that summer. Cooper went into recording week with two eye infections, some sort of chest cold, and absolutely no voice. The only thing that kept us going through recording week was watching Coop trying to sing his parts… thanks for the laughs, Cooper (I’m actually laughing about it right now).
The following summer in 2008 was another strong musical year other than the fact that I had been elected to be the Music Director and had no clue what I was doing. On top of that we lost four veteran members who are all incredible musicians. Luckily, we had four new, ridiculous soloists join us that summer which made things a lot easier. Unlike the year I got into the group, all four new guys got in on their first time auditioning (no, I’m not bitter it took me three tries). They were babies made of clay waiting to be molded into adult babies… whatever, you know what I mean. No sooner did we begin learning new songs in our living room did we find ourselves back in the recording studio at the end of the summer trying to decide what to record for the second half of what would eventually be On the Clock.
“Feels Like Today”, “Would You Go With Me”, “Something Happened On the Way to Heaven”, “Your Love”, “Unchain My Heart”, and “Foreplay / Longtime” were eventually our weapons of choice for the second half of the album that summer. A few recording memories that stick out in particular are when we got to listen to Patrick trying to hit the high note of “Feels Like Today” for the 10,000th time and finally nailing it, and when Jeff was trying to sing the Phil Collins tune with more “grit” in his tone and his voice came to a hilarious screeching halt. I had never before heard someone’s voice decide to quit on someone before. It was as if Jeff didn’t have a choice in the matter, his voice simply chose for him. Again, I found amusement in other’s short-comings.
After all of the hours of recording and laughing at each other’s lack of voices, we knew we had done something special and could only hope that the final product would end up as good as its predecessors. At this point, though, we knew that only half of the project was complete.
The year following the summer of ’08 consisted of several trips to Boston and NYC by the group to continue recording and fine-tuning the final details of our album that was scheduled for release in June. Crazy things begin to happen during this time period I like to call “album limbo”. Tyler recorded his solo for “Still the One” somewhere in the Midwest with the help of his friend who had some recording equipment, Tim recorded himself harmonizing to himself on his solo for “Industry” at his house in MA (just because he loves to harmonize with himself doesn’t mean he’s a narcissist), we recorded the intro to “Foreplay / Longtime” in the spring of ’09 in Ed Boyer’s closet in NYC, Cooper recorded his voice parts for several tracks while at sea on a cruise ship contract… the list is endless.
As we eventually began to close in on our release date, we realized that we had to come up with a name for this thing. We tossed around a few ideas until we finally came up with On the Clock. The phrase “On the Clock” is actually something that we would often say to each other. It comes from our own disbelief that this is actually our summer job. Whether we’re at a weekly gig or someone’s backyard, usually someone would end up saying, “Yeah, I just punched in… I’m on the clock.” It’s a way of reminding ourselves that this is our job, we’re incredibly fortunate to be here, don’t take it for granted, and above all, perform your heart out 150% because the people who are nice enough to take time out of their day to listen to us deserve it. We also just thought it had a better ring to it than some of the other “gems” that we came up with like “A Walk to England”, or “Suburban Safari”… I don’t even remember what those are supposed to mean.
After all of the logistical aspects got squared away such as obtaining the rights to the music and having our magnificent album art drawn up by Rob Stewart (an alum who also happens to be an artistic genius) we finally had the makings of a great album, but we still hadn’t heard any tracks yet. Like “Thriller” I will never forget the first time I heard the first track from the first album that I got to be a part of: “Foreplay / Longtime”. Not only was it an amazing arrangement by Ed Boyer (another alum who also happens to be a genius) but it was the first track that Ed had finished mixing for the album. I was blown away, we were all blown away. I had that same feeling that I had long ago in my dorm room in college; that same inspiring feeling, only this time the feeling changed from inspiration to pride as I slowly began to realize that I wasn’t listening to a an album of another group, this was my group made up of my best friends. This was something we created together. It was this moment that made it all worth the effort.
Before we knew it, it was late May, 2009, and we found ourselves, once again, sitting in our living room getting ready for the beginning of summer with a bunch of alumni who had come over. Nothing has ever felt better than being able to give an alum (someone who’s existence in this group is part of the reason why we’re fortunate enough to be a part of it) a brand new CD that we had worked so hard on and have them turn to us and say “Good job”.
In retrospect, I guess it seems that the biggest reasons that we even record these studio albums will always be for our fans, friends, family, and our alumni. If we didn’t have those people continually supporting and challenging us, then why bother?