Author: Michael D. Vogel Genre: ,

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By: Michael D. Vogel

© June 30, 1997. Michael D. Vogel. All Rights Reserved.

Published in:

The Album Network magazine – July 11, 1997


Fame and fortune do not always equal happiness, hard as it is for the average working person to realize. For Cry Of Love, the rise from obscurity to chart topping success has not been the smoothest of rides. It might be tough to conjure up a real level of sympathy for those whole earn their living by playing music in front of thousands of screaming fans, traveling the world and having anything they desire at their fingertips, but as Audley Freed, songwriter and guitarist for the North Carolina based quartet, Cry Of Love points out, musicians are people first and are hardly impervious to pain. Fame does not insulate – in fact, it tends to decimate our lives and emotions, regardless of the consequences. Clearly a mixed blessing, Diamonds & Debris demonstrates that there are no exceptions to that rule.

Pink Floyd’s acid casualty Sid Barrett may still be alive, but these days he’s only meditating. Make no mistake, Diamonds & Debris is the soundtrack for sin and salvation, telling the story of the journey of life while mixing together modern grooves, raw, high energy vocals, and searing guitar squalls mixed with a little bit of Hendrix riffage into a new southern psychedelia that’s anthemic and accessible.

From his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, Audely and I reflected on the philosophy of Cry Of Love.

What has been going on with Cry Of Love since the Brother album?

Audley Freed: “After coming off tour in support of our first album, we decided it was time for a change in the band. This lead to the departure of our original singer and the introduction of Robert Mason by a mutual friend which ultimately led to a perfect match for the voice of our band. In between those two points, we wrote and rehearsed some of the songs we had already written for the new album. Because I like to keep the whole process as simple as possible, we used a four track recorder – the organic things a young band does when everybody plays an instrument.”

Has the change on vocals affected the band in any way?

AF: “The band sounds better now then it ever has. Jason (Patterson), Robert (Kearns) and I have been playing together since 1989. We have grown together as a family unit. When Mason was introduced to us by a mutual friend, we knew this was to be our new singer and the newest member in our circle of friends. But this isn’t just limited to just the four of us, instead branching out in a lot of different directions including members of the extended Cry Of Love family.

“But, what is really important to us is playing in front of a live audience. It helps us grow and mature together as a band and at the same time challenge our audience with new material. When we recorded the first album, it was pretty much done in a simplistic, wham – bam, nature. We went into the studio, knocked out the album and then we were done. For this record, Diamonds & Debris, we experimented with a lot more layering. Over all, the whole recording process for this album has been a completely unique experience for us mostly because we were forced to rediscover the things that helped make us who we are as musicians. The end results are a real step forward for the band both musically and professionally.”

Cry Of love has always presented a live, warm and friendly rock & roll sound. How do you translate that natural feeling to the record?

“The process changed for us because none of these songs had been played before a live audience. With our first album, we had several years and hundreds of shows where were able to perfect our songs. When we entered the Jag Studio, we had some preconceived notions of what we wanted to accomplish, but for the most part we had a fresh canvas before us. We let the songs themselves paint what type of musical picture the album would become. This type of process can be very exciting because you never know what type of twists and turns the journey will take. But at the same time there is a certain level of trepidation because of the uncertainty of the end results. What you are left with is the spontaneity of the moment.

“There is something to be said for going into the studio with a clean slate. For the most part, it just depends on the circumstances involved and where your head is at that moment. In my opinion, playing the material in front of a live audience is a good way to test the arrangements of the song. The Grateful Dead were masters of exactly that! By moving parts of songs around and changing the arrangements, you can really test the boundaries of each song. That way, when you go into the studio to record, you really have a firm grasp on the song itself and what you want to accomplish. Unfortunately, what might work one year probably won’t the next.”

How much does improvisation come into play?

“Depending on the circumstances, sparks can happen at the studio. For example, just the other day, we were jamming on a new song. What made it great was the fact that it was spontaneous. Sometimes it can be the melody or a riff that ultimately causes one of us to go off on a musical tangent. It can be somewhat methodical in the mixing and matching of various elements. Sometimes the song can come to fruition in five minutes and others several hours or even days. The trick is not to over-work the song to the point where all the life has been drained out of it and at the same time yields some fruits for the labor involved.

“We might improvise on the guitar riffs or vocals or even in the instrumentation of the song. On tour, we make sure to leave extra room for sonic exploration, but the arrangement of the song is pretty much fixed – lock, stock and barrel. The solos make playing the music for a live audience fresh and exciting. For the most part though, we really like that kind of improvisational thing, but in the studio we have yet to completely explore that musical direction.”

As a child, did you ever fantasize about playing in a band?

“Who doesn’t dream about becoming a famous musician? I was pretty much the same as the other kids growing up. There were posters of rock stars on my wall. Before the days of MTV, I always tried to watch those few bands that made it onto broadcast TV. That was a fantastic period for me. All of my personal aspirations were wrapped up in playing music professionally. When it comes right down to it though, to be afforded the opportunity to be a musician is really a blessing. But at the same time there is also a lot of hard work and sacrifice involved. To truly achieve a level of success in this game, you must remember that there is always something new to be learn.”

How does reality compare to that fantasy?

“When I was a kid, I dreamed about playing my guitar in front of people and making records. It really wasn’t the glamour of limousines and trashing hotel rooms that appealed to us, so we don’t actively pursue those types of social circles. We see ourselves as just a little rock band trying to survive playing the music we want to play. If we can all grow both as musicians and as people, then everything becomes worthwhile and that is the epitome of what Cry Of Love is all about.”

With the plethora of bands recording today, do you feel Cry Of Love is still in a battle for recognition?

“It is not really a struggle to be known as it is to try and keep your head above water. We are a workingman’s rock band, extending to both sides of the stage. We match the demographic of the people that come to see our live shows and buy our records.

“I’m not knocking any of the glitz and glamour. If your are into the whole scene, and that is what you aspire to, then that will motivate you to achieve a certain level of success. Personally, I would rather aspire to become a good guitar player because that is my whole life, it is what I do.”

In writing and recording Diamonds & Debris, you stated you were aiming for an album that was well crafted but also maintained that raw feel. Do you feel you have accomplished that goal?

“Among rock bands, this somewhat of an age old ethic. A well-crafted album exists on two levels. First, some songs simply need to be crafted. The length of time involved depends on the individual song and on the attitude the song presents. The other level deals with the framework of the song. These can best be described as all the things that add up to make the song what it is.

“Some artists use music to help reinforce the lyrical imagery being presented. By approaching a song from a painter’s perspective, musicians like David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix are prime examples of those who use potent imagery to present intricately crafted songs. As for us, we are really just getting our feet wet being a bit more elaborate then taking the completely bare bones route.”

The album title Diamonds & Debris presents a dichotomy. Dealing with topics such as `sin and salvation` and `myth and reality`, was this album a soul cleansing for the band?

“You are needing a sense of closure to anything. When the project has reached its conclusion, you relax and breathe a sigh of relief. This is where the Diamonds & Debris dichotomy comes into play. It really encapsulates the idea that life is a journey and not just a destination. It is very naive to think that you can sit back and never experience any difficulties. This is the real world where learning new things is part of the daily routine. By doing so, you stay firmly entrenched in reality instead of reaching for something that doesn’t exist. In all, once you stop pursuing the things that make you happy, you really become an incomplete person!” ^m^

Photograph credit: James Minchin

Line-Up: Origin:

Robert Mason – Vocals Raleigh, North Carolina

Audley Freed – Guitar

Robert Kearns – Bass

Jason Patterson – Drums

About The Current CD:

After an impressive showing on their debut album Brother, which yielded three rock radio hits, Diamonds & Debris is Cry Of Love’s sophomore effort and first record in nearly four years.


Diamonds & Debris (Columbia, 1997)

Brother (Columbia, 1992)

Produced By:

John Custer



© June 30, 1997. Michael D. Vogel. All Rights Reserved. This originally appeared on the Vogelism blog at, authored by Michael D. Vogel. This article may be shared or reprinted as long as this entire copyright message, including the source location of this article, accompanies it.

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