Ridiculicious - The Candymakers

Local Blues/Funk band The Candymakers, have an upcoming CD release. In anticipation of the release, I caught up with Alan Sweet, Nick Vasquez, Randy Leasman, Bret Dale and Zach Tatum at a Monday evening rehearsal upstairs at the RME. We chatted about the upcoming CD, crowd funding, and some general Candymakers shenanigans.

The CD was funded through crowd-funding site, Kickstarter. According to Sweet, the word Kickstarter fits it exactly. After throwing band money and money the individual members earned on their own into the last album, Kickstarter provided a new and better option. This time, they got their friends and families and fans together and raised enough money to get the album produced. The extra money allowed them to spend more time in the studio.

Their advice for others who might be considering a crowd funding campaign: take a computer class. “No seriously,” Alan Sweet says, “take the computer class.” Provide your funders with constant updates, keeping everyone updated helps people feel involved in the process. Do a great video – the Candymakers had their video made a year before they began the fundraiser. A catchy video gets shared, and that brings new people into the process. They also recommend providing video snippets throughout the process.

Ridiculicious embodies the growth of the Candymakers, as they diversify and show more of their musical tastes. The album is a cross-cut of the different writing styles found in a band with multiple songwriters who have the ability to collaborate and maintain each member’s individuality. For all their diversity, this group has a trust relationship that allows them each to comfortably express their own creativity.

For the last album, they “wore the suits and did the blues and soul thing,” says Sweet. “We took the suits off and didn't put anything else back on.”

“We recorded naked...” Nick Vasquez interjects.

Really though, there were differences between this album and the last two. With the Kickstarter money, they had the luxury of spending more time in the studio. Several songs were worked out right in the studio. There also were different personnel involved, which led to different writing and a different sound.

Where did they come up with the name? Says Bret Dale, “It is ridiculous… and delicious.”

The ten songs were chosen for this album because they were fun and a little off the wall – ridiculous. Out of 22 songs that were recorded, these 10 seemed to fit best. They range from the sensual “Dip You In Chocolate” to “That Ain’t My Baby”.

Yes, there is a reprise of Dip You in Chocolate. They never did a full band recording, and have had requests for that. Waking Up With A Dream is Leaseman’s favorite. It was suggested this might be their next homage to Sly. Dale loves the new rock n roll tune with only four chords. “We put on our rock n roll pants.”

There’s a little rock n roll, some funky jams… and even a country song. Well, Candy country, they call it. Titled “Workin’”, it is subtitled “twerkin’”. You have to listen to it to understand…

Longtime fans can listen to their music and know who wrote which songs, as each of the four core members has their own writing style. That difference is prominent in Ridiculicious. We talked a little about how Candymakers’ songs come about. Sometimes songs start out as an idea and the band collaborates on them. For example, That Ain't My Baby began as a groove they started playing in rehearsal, and it evolved into a song with structure and lyrics. Sometimes songs are brought in by members fully written, like Are you Ready. It was written by Randy - none of the other members had seen it before he brought it in. They played and recorded it as written.

Dale says bringing a song in fully written is a risk. “You bring something to the group and hopefully they will like it. Or they might say "This is the worst thing ever" and then they never trust you again. It’s a huge risk, but it works for everybody.”

“That doesn’t usually happen.” Sweet chimes in, “We all trust each other.”

Drummer Tatum works on a cruise ship and plays with the band when he's in the area. He first played with them last year at Camp Euforia. He was not around to record with the band, but will be playing with them at the release party.

The Candymakers enjoy bringing friends in for recording sessions, and have plenty of guests on the CD. You’ll hear multiple drummers and percussionists, including Jamie Hopkins, McClean Bowhatch, and Chris Cushman on drums and Mike Miller and Dustin Cobb on percussion.

Ellis Kell’s guitar work can be heard on Workin’, while backing vocals were recorded by Bethann Gavin and Erin Moore. And there are horns, of course. Listen for Tim Burns baritone sax and of course, Evan White.
The very distinctive sound of a Hammond B3 with a Leslie cabinet comes through loud and clear. That was provided by Frank from River Cities Sound.

Recording took place at Dustin Cobb’s Joy Avenue Studio. According to Sweet, “Dustin Cobb was huge with this, and helped push along the whole project. He knows how we all work our best and knows how to keep us going.”

And what happened to the other 12 tracks they recorded? Those are slated for a future album. The guys say those 12 also made sense together, and the next album will be more blues and soul. “We better get to work on that.” (Bret Dale)