No, not a residence for older folk or people with disabilities, or even a TV sitcom, and you’d be forgiven for saying so, as their album ‘Assisted Living‘ does take an irreverent tongue-in-cheek approach to a lot of these songs on offer here. They might be dwelling on the last roll of the dice but boy, do they sound like they’re having fun with it. Take for instance a snippet from their first track on the album, “Age Doesn’t Matter“
That’s the spirit! The band has obviously given it some thought, and the album cover speaks volumes and not just in pints of dog urine against a seasoned tree veteran. As their press release declares:
“FADS ARE TEMPORARY.SONGS ARE FOREVER. Back in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s there was so much music available that always seemed to be new and fresh. Fast forward to today, and the millions upon millions of Baby Boomers only have the music from days gone by to claim as “their own”. The bands and artists from that era are either gone, or in many cases, trying to keep their careers on track by re-releasing their catalogs in various manifestations (boxed sets, live albums, covers, etc.). They aren’t really bringing any inspired new music, as they are either running out of ideas or making a business decision due to the way the music industry has been reconfigured with streaming. This has caused a serious decline in new, fresh music that our contemporaries can listen to. There is certainly a dearth of new music geared towards those who experienced the trailblazing lead by The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, and the multitudes of other bands, artists and genres from days gone by. Assisted Living can bring this audience something new that they can relate to. Melodic and musically interesting, Assisted Living also touches on some of the subjects Boomers can identify with (“Assisted Living”, “Social Security”, Derry Road” and “Age Doesn’t Matter” are all very topical). These are delivered to the listener innocuously and may also appeal to many non-“Boomerites”. What would happen if an amazing band who unbelievably missed hitting the big time stayed together for decades? How would it be if they held their collective heads high and kept writing and recording acres of new material? What would it be like if they were given the chance to shine based on that material? When would be the right time for music to be the focus and age secondary? The time is now and the band is…Assisted Living. Assisted Living was formed with the idea that good music is timeless and good musicians are ageless.
Wilson Quick: Vocals, Drums, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitars
Dave Zibman: Basses, Keyboards, Vocals
Randy Casquejo: Gutar, Vocals
Bart Smudde: Woodwinds
Ryan Kiesshauer: Guitars
Junius Richard Huxen: Guitars
Recorded, Engineered and Mastered by Dave Zibman
Produced by Dave Zibman and Wilson Quick.
Dave Zibman is someone I know from our common interest in Prog and conversations around it online in the various related communities of music, so this album has actually opened up a lot more about him I didn’t know before. He hails from Miami and has been playing bass since the age of fifteen. Dave also hinted on his Facebook page that Assisted Living was a gentler version of ‘The Reasons,’ who from what I could gather were a local, well liked Atlanta band between 1992-1996 who also included guitarist/vocalist, Randy Casquejo, playing anything from pop to jazz. Certainly parts of Assisted Living spring from this band given the “food for thought/irreverence” can be found in both band’s song content. Worth checking out. Dave added, “Actually, Wilson Quick wrote all the lyrics to the AL songs, as well as all but 2 songs by The Reasons. Wilson is a great songwriter who incorporates over-arching themes in a lot of his compositions. I think the echoing themes between the projects are a result of his style and songwriting influences ( The Beatles, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, Sting, et al ).”
“Assisted Living,” Dave told me, “was formed when I purchased some recording gear and told Wilson about it. I had thrown together some ideas and sent the “composition’ ( more like compost) to Wilson and we decided to dive in with a lot of material he had in the wings. We invited our good buddy and ex-Reasons guitarist Randy Casquejo ( f/k/a/ “Phil Eno” in The Reasons) to play guitar on the project. At some point, about a year ago we enlisted two additional guitarist friends: Richard Huxen, formerly of the prog group “Lift” was one. Richard plays on “Age Doesn’t Matter” and “Derry Road”. Ryan Kiesshauer added his stylings on all the other songs, in addition to the two Richard Huxen plays on. Woodwinds are played by Bart Smudde, who is a member of Dave’s jazz band, The FlyCats. Bart grew up in Wisconsin and was a neighbor of Daryl Stuermer, and was close friends with Daryl’s brother. One other thing – When Wilson and his family moved to the US from the UK by way of Canada, they settled in Detroit, MI. There he became friends with the family that became “Art In America”, which was an Eddie Offord produced prog band that had limited success in the early 80’s.”
What I’m really getting to enjoy about this album is how a bunch of very talented musicians can laugh at themselves. Well laugh at our generation really as the years roll on. There’s also a sense of remaining true to themselves through their music. We’re still here now and we’re going to make the most of it. It’s not cynical or jaded or even bitter. Well maybe a little of each here and there. There’s a certain inevitability that approaches each of us as we come to terms with our lot, and what a crazy lot it has been. Social media is a toxic platform so you can’t help but notice a certain younger generation getting slightly impatient we’re still hanging around having the time of our life. Certainly the lyrics in the title track “Assisted Living” bears/bares this out.
Dave reflected on the lyrics. “The songs were an indictment of sorts, but cloaked in a thin, humorous skin. It’s funny, but we think also drives home a point about the magnitude of this particular generation gap.” And then some.
I asked him what had been the response to the subject matter of their album so far. “We haven’t had much exposure,” he said, “but feedback from the Boomers and Millennials have been positive, with a nod to the tongue-in-cheek feel. But, the message is kind of serious.”
And it doesn’t sound like it’s going to change much on the next album they’re currently working on. “The material for the new batch has been written and plotted out. We’re not sure when we will have it done, but it carries the theme forward to an extent. But, most of the songs are not specifically about aging, but other topics ( including politics, etc.). Some of the new titles are “Welcome To Washington”, “Stargaze”, “Sunshine”, “Bend Sinister”, “Adios”, “Grey Skies”, “Stage Fright”, “Elipsis…”, etc…”
Dave has the final word here. I asked him if they had started working on the obligatory concept album yet to which he hinted… “Yes. The double album will be “Lobster Tails From Very Graphic Oceans“!! Can’t wait!
Assisted Living is available on all the usual platforms.