Thanks to Andy Ellis at Midwest CMA for the interview about our new album, "Tin Can Tunes"
Album: Tin Can Tunes Artist: Tony Cuchetti and Joe Flip
Officially voted onto the Grammys Ballot Album charted #2 in the world- Roots Music Report Radio Charts (acoustic blues category) "Mess Around" charted #1 in the world- Roots Music Report Radio Charts (acoustic blues category) Album charted #1 in the state of MN (all categories)
When did you and Tony starting working together? Was the chemistry pretty immediate?
I met Tony Cuchetti around the summer/fall of 2017. He was playing a show and I instantly became a fan of his music and songwriting. I really wanted to play music with him because I knew he had something special and I could hear little pockets where I would put my guitar riffs in between his vocal phrasing. I invited him to my house to jam for a bit and I felt like we immediately had great chemistry and we liked the same style of music. It wasn't about specific genres of music, it was about playing good music with feeling and soul.
When did the idea for an album come about?
In the late winter of 2018, the MN Blues Society announced they were hosting their annual "Road to Memphis" competition. I thought Tony and I would add a unique artistic flavor to the show. After submitting a couple music samples online, we were invited to perform at the competition. We ended up winning that competition so we were officially moving on to represent MN at the International Blues Competition in Memphis, which was in January of 2019. At that time, we have only done a hand full of shows together and never really rehearsed or co wrote anything together. So we thought we should collaborate and put a CD together so we can bring it town to Memphis and promote our contest.
How long did it take to complete?
We narrowed down a couple song ideas for the CD, we chose a couple of my songs, a couple of Tony's songs and two cover songs, which were "Big River" and "Down Home Girl." We did the songs our own way, especially with "Down Home Girl." We always like playing that song together because we start it off kind of laid back then later in the song, we go into a double time feel with a guitar solo, then drop back down to softer feel, and the crowd always seemed to enjoy it. The previous year, I recorded a song with harmonica player, Indiara Sfair, so we ended up adding that song as a bonus track. The whole recording process took a hand full of sessions, but our calendars were always so full with gigs so it took a little while to schedule everything. Since we were competing in the blues competition as a duo, we wanted to keep the album similar to that vibe but we felt that some songs needed some light hand percussion. So that process took a little longer to go back and decide which instruments to add, such as djembe, shakers, hand claps, etc.
How does the collaboration process work for you guys when it comes to songwriting?
Since these songs were previously written before we met, we technically didn't go through the co-writing process. We just chose songs of our own that were already written in the past. For example I had previously written "Six Feet Underground," and "Mess Around." Tony had previously written IJ, Tommy C, Do your Thing and Lovin Biscuits. But as we played the songs live together, we naturally blended them into our own sound and style.
How did "Mess Around" come about? It's one of the many great examples on the album of how your guitar and Tony's deep soulful vocals compliment each other so well. What why do you think it's that song that seems to be connecting so much with critics and audiences?
For my song, Mess Around, we couldn't decide if it should be a slow ballad or different kind of groove. We changed the groove many times while we were jamming together, trying to figure out what sounded best. Finally we stripped it down with a bluesy call and response feel in the intro, then went into a faster train beat vibe. We both loved the way it sounded so we stuck with it. Tony used a shaker for percussion, sang, I used my oil can guitar, and that was it. We recorded it together live in the studio the next day. We wanted to give it an old bluesy vintage vibe and give the listener the idea that they were listening to it live in some small juke joint. We also added some random clapping and shouting in the background. We thought it would be a cool way to start the album.
When we performed in Memphis for the competition, we would always start with that song. It just has a cool, dramatic, bluesy intro, that helps pull the listener in. In my opinion, some songs in the top 40 commercial radio world, have a stale, cookie cutter song arrangement, which we wanted to avoid. Tony and I wanted to have a very organic, raw album. We wanted it to sound more like our live performances, and less like a polished commercial top 40 album.
It's kind of funny to think how this whole project happened relatively fast and unexpected. When we decided to record a CD together, we didn't even plan on promoting it on putting it online. We just thought we would sell it as merch at some of our shows and at our tour in Memphis. But once the CD was done, I thought I might as well put it online and share it with some people in my network to see what happens.
We were both amazed to find out that the album is doing so well.
We just found out that it was voted onto the official ballot for the Grammys, which is crazy.
The bonus track, "Amazing Grace," with Indiara Sfair on harmonica was a lot of fun. She has the most amazing tone and soul when playing harmonica. She lives in Brazil, but her and her husband were visiting a mutual friend of mine in Nashville, so I invited them to stay at my house for a week and join me on my shows. Indiara and I wanted to do a beautiful, soulful version of Amazing Grace. We practiced it a couple times at my house, trying to find the best tempo, phrasing, energy, etc. At the studio, I hired a camera guy to record our performance. I think it was our 2nd take at the studio and we kept it. As of now, it has about 900,000 views on youtube. I love reading the comments from people all over the world that find inspiration from the song. Most of the comments are in different languages so I use google translator to read the comments, and reply back in their native language.
From this process, I've learned to trust my gut instinct a little more. As independent musicians, there are a lot of hurdles that come in the way, but in my experience, I've found that if you work with the right people, stay positive, write a plan, stick to the plan, it becomes much easier. This album has helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel and motivated me to start working on some future albums and projects. I've also learned a lot about self promoting your album to radio stations, radio charts, magazines, etc. One of my goals is to help other independent musicians promote their music and teach them the tips/tricks that I learned along the way. If any musicians out there need some help or have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime, I never sleep!