New Release: The House of Sound by Joe Guido Welsh
It’s been quite a career for the west coaster who grew up in Kansas City and now resides in Nashville. After heading up KC rock band The 4 Sknns during the 80s and 90s, Joe Guido Welsh has made the rounds and put out several solo albums. On his latest – arguably best and possibly last – he has hired a new singer to take the reins. Jordan Smith is that voice and it’s a solid one. Smith heads up his own killer band in KC, Wonderfuzz. Check them out.
The rest of House‘s hired guns include Steve Ebe on drums, Brad Jones on bass, Kenny Vaughan playing guitars, saxophone and flute by Miqui Gutierrez, background vocals: Wendy Moten, Brad Jones, Ross Rice, and Welsh, lead vocalist is Jordan Smith. Welsh rounds it out playing synths, keys, guitar, bass, singing a little, and shaking some percussion. The musicians are topnotch and Welsh’s songwriting, production, and arrangements are tight, inspiring, and thought provoking.
“Earth Station One/John Was Trying to Contact Aliens” kicks off the album with a “Space Oddity” feel. Based on the real life story of John Shepherd who spent most of his life attempting to make contact with other worlds. “Everything he knew, he knew himself, he taught himself he built himself / With all of his contraptions he searched the sky at night / To see what might be out there, is anybody out there?” More on that soon…
“3 Margaritas and a Sleeping Pill” hits an 11 on the intense rock scale. While not recommended by your doctor, this tune is definitely a prescription for lovers of rock, with a bluesy harmonica to boot. Smith’s voice is smooth and powerful throughout this release. Welsh is the first to admit he rarely uses a filter and calls it like he sees it. House has a handful of tunes originating from this psyche. “The Revolution Was Canceled” (maybe a sequel to Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”), “Cuckoo,” “Florida Man,” and “People Who Stare at the Sun” all take shots at certain groups, mainly those lacking common sense, compassion, and the all important critical thinking skills.
“Baby, You Move Me” may be one of the sweetest tunes Welsh has ever recorded. Sounds like love! There is one cover song on House and it’s a deep cut. “The Orange Rooftop of Your Mind” was originally recorded by The Blue Things in 1967. It’s a wonderful example of psychedelia and Welsh has recorded a version true to its roots. A most pop-worthy song, “Paperback Kafka,” is a straight ahead hit. Give it a listen and tell me I’m wrong. As you’ll learn in our chat with Welsh, “Florida Man” is a wild ride, full of true stories throughout…except for one. Here’s a taste: “I was getting chased by the po-po and stopped to rehydrate with a stolen juice box because smoking crack makes me thirsty.” You get the idea.
For the epic closer, “People Who Stare at the Sun,” Welsh enlisted the actual subject of the documentary for the sign-off. “This is John Shepherd coming to you live from Earth Station One. You’re listening to the new Joe Guido Welsh record featuring Jordan Smith as we beam live to the universe from Northern Michigan.”
No Earplugs threw a few questions to Welsh. Here are his thoughts:
What inspired you to do one more album? I sat at my kitchen table and wrote “John Was Trying To Contact Aliens” when I got the idea of doing the record. I watched the film three times in a row. The first time through, I was a bit verklempt. The second time through I felt joyful. The third time through I started writing lyrics. That 16-minute documentary inspired me to finish ONE last record.
What made you want to become a musician; who are your idols/influences? The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show Feb 9, 1964. That did it. Influences are so many and ever-changing but Beatles, Stones, Who, Kinks, Animals, Badfinger, Todd Rundgren, Thelonious Monk, Curtis Mayfield, Motown, and many, many others. I steal from everyone!
Who were some of your favorite acts growing up? All of them. I just love music and the people who make it. Live, I’ve seen everything! Very fortunate to have grown up when I did!
You hit on some different genres on the album. Can you explain? I just love all kinds of music. Always have. If you check the other releases on my Bandcamp page you’ll see everything from pop and rock to jazz, funk, soul, movie music, and good old rock!
On “Florida Man,” did all the incidents in the song actually happen in the Sunshine State? All but one. I’m letting listeners guess which one. 😛 (challenge accepted)
That is a terrific album cover. Where was the pic taken? The photo was the inspiration for the title, as it was taken by an old friend who just happened to send a copy for “good luck” before we started. The studio we used to cut for four days was built into a house, and I overdubbed and mixed in my studio at home so the photo fit the scenario. It just all worked. Tim Toonen did the cool artwork on the record. He colored and did all the lettering inside the sign by hand. His work was inspired by a photo from Mike Beiriger, who took the pic in Kingman, Arizona on Route 66.
Rumor has it this may be your swan song. What are your future plans and do they include moving to France? It is my swan song. The business just isn’t the same and my health keeps me from gigging, so this will most likely be it for me. We’d love to move to France but the Visa situation since Covid has been bizarre. We may never get there. But definitely moving to a Blue State!
What is the best advice you were ever given? My dad used to say, “Never trust a man with a pinky ring” and “Never wear a necklace to a fight.” The old showbiz adages, “Never leave your wallet backstage” and “Always look under your catering food” have served me better.
From your Bandcamp page: “Joe Guido Welsh is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer, and an admitted liberal francophile. He loves baseball, comfortable shoes, and people who think.” Do you feel mixing music and politics will cost you fans? I think anyone that knows me knows to expect me to comment on current events, so if it does cost me any fans…it cost me long ago!
After all your releases, why did you decide to hire Jordan Smith as the lead vocalist? My voice was damaged during brain surgery in 2017 and I can no longer sing. That, and he was cheap. Kidding. I’ve known Jordan for several years. I hired him to do some corporate events and he killed it! I was fortunate he wanted to do this!!! He’s super talented!
Categories: New Music