Lavish Attention: Lavish Green pulls no punches with ‘All 4 You’
A bartender by day and frontman for the band Lavish Green by night, Chris Sanchez would be justified to call for a toast. If his band’s new CD were a bottle of Scotch, it would be top-shelf.
“All 4 You,” the South Shore band’s sixth album, celebrates its diverse musical styles in 15 tracks, which keeps listeners on their toes throughout.
The rhythm section of drummer John Shafer and bassist Rob Wheeler symbiotically sets the pallet for Joel Gruneich to display his mastery over a variety of guitars and Sanchez to garnish the offerings with Ozzy-like verse and trumpet licks. Yes: trumpet. This band has a singular approach for a variety of musical tastes.
Lavish Green is an aggressive but clean thrash metal band that revels in its affection for Metallica (Lars Ulrich gave Shafer his snare drum), Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam and new favorite The Mars Volta. And its trumpet lends itself to a little bit of reggae and occasional bursts of “Bitches Brew” fusion.
The album’s theme speaks of perseverance and unity, which is apt for a band that still has three of its four original members from 1995, when they replaced their snowboards and skates with guitars and drums. (Sanchez is the godfather of two of the bandmembers’ children.) Of course, true blue Tahoe pride emerges at times during a smokin’ tribute to all things green.
“Personally, it’s the best thing I’ve ever been a part of,” Sanchez said. “I am extremely pleased with the product.”
A blue-collar band, Lavish Green recorded the album incrementally over four months, gigging to raise enough cash to pay for each session at Oakland’s Sonic Room Studios.
Like 2004’s “Blue Moon Sessions,” “All 4 You” was engineered by Tim Narducci. While the engineer had total control with the previous album, the band made all the decisions this time. Narducci did bring several nice touches, including unprecedented two-part harmonies from Sanchez and Wheeler on three songs.
“We weren’t trying to write any radio hits or anything like that,” Shafer said. “We just wrote what we wanted to write and put whatever we wanted to put on the record without wondering if it was going to be good corporate or good for the radio. It was good for us, and that’s what was important.”
Shafer went the entire album with no overdubs on his drums, a testament to his precision and perhaps conveying a subliminal ambiance of a live show. “March of the Drunken Elephants,” a popular end-of-a show stomp, has the most live feel on the album, and it was the result of a single take. The elephant sounds from Sanchez’s trumpet might have even made Miles Davis smile.
Gruneich’s guitar virtuosity highlights “Got it All” and “Painted Smiles.” One of the first concerts he attended was a Metallica show, which reveals his musical foundation clearly.
Gruneich, certified from the Music Tech school in Minneapolis, called the album Lavish Green’s most artistic and mature. He played 12-string, acoustic, slide, and electric guitars on the CD, as well as some organ.
Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is the lone cover and has Sanchez’s trumpet in place of Robert Plant’s scream. The song was the drummer’s idea, and is even faster than the original.
“Sometimes it haunts me because it’s really hard to play ” it’s Bonham, you know,” Shafer said. “I’ve heard bands cover it, but it’s that scream they have trouble with. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if (Sanchez) played the horn for the scream?’ “
No royalty checks will be going out to Zeppelin anytime soon, however. Lavish Green’s attorney recommended giving Zeppelin credit in the liner notes and hoping for a lawsuit.
“Hopefully, we’ll sell enough CDs to where it becomes an issue,” Shafer said. “That would be wonderful, and we’d be happy to pay them.”
“Now I Know,” a punky portrait of infidelity, and the hidden 15th track, “First Degree,” are the album’s two angry songs. “First Degree,” also appeared on an earlier album with drummer Chris Lovering. The new version goes against the grain of the rest of the songs, which doubtless is why it comes at the end of the CD, after a long pause at the end of “The Time.” It’s perhaps an inside joke to the legion of Lavish fans rooted in Tahoe and the East and South Bay areas. Like the cover indicates with the sepia-toned images of Aaron Hagar’s 1946 GMC and the members sporting guns and donning hillbilly outlaw getups, the guys are fun-loving and a little bit touched.
The song “Comfortable” is another highlight, featuring Gruneich’s guitar work. In fact, it could be the best track on the album.
However, all of the band members picked “All 4 You” as their favorite, and that’s why they made it the album title.
“It’s about the trials and tribulations of what we go through,” Shafer said. “Sometimes you have to do things the wrong way to know when your are doing it the right way.”
Evoking a mood of passion and sincerity, “All 4 You” builds to a reflective finish, with Sanchez belting out short notes on the trumpet (triple tonguing technique) which helps drive the point home ” it’s all for you.
“Overall, it’s just a good collection,” Wheeler said. “I’m proud of the way we wrote them.”
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