Rock ‘n’ roll never goes out of style. Rip-roaring guitars, screeching solos, arena-size drums, and bluesy howls will forever inspire generations to come. It’s a cycle that continues on Andrew McKeag BAND’s 2017 self-titled debut.
“It’s funny the way things come back around,” he remarks. “My teenage son is playing guitar now and listening to everything that I was listening to when I was the exact same age. I feel like there’s hope for rock ‘n’ roll.”
If anybody can be a beacon for that hope, it’s Andrew. Devoting a lifetime to music, he’s performed and written for a slew of bands up and down the West Coast, namely The Fixers, Shuggie, Huge Spacebird, his own The zeroes, and more. 2004 saw him join multiplatinum iconic Seattle luminaries The Presidents of the United States of America on guitar. He toured everywhere with the band and remained integral to 2008’s critically acclaimed These Are the Good Times People and Kudos to You! in 2014. Moreover, he’s performed with Bo Diddley and toured with Javier Escovedo. He also maintains his long-running and storied Seattle seventies rock cover band 70 Proof, which has boasted appearances from the likes of Duff McKagan as well as members of Mother Love Bone, Supersuckers, and more. During Fall 2016, he dove headfirst into penning ideas for what would become Andrew McKeag BAND. It proved to be the right time to launch his next act.
“I really love playing live and touring,” he goes on. “I wanted a tool of my own to rely on. It was a process of finally establishing my own brand and thing. It’s an amalgam of all the things I love about rock ‘n’ roll like loud guitars and melodies that stick with you. More than anything, I wanted them to be something that felt like me. It’s a statement of where I am in life.”
In order to capture this vision, he enlisted the talents of drummer Charlie George and bassist John Krylow and recorded with producer Scott Hackwith [The Ramones] in downtown Los Angeles at Cassette Recordings. Immediately, they tapped into an indescribable and inimitable chemistry. “It was a really great experience,” says Andrew. “We all clicked in the studio and turned out the album quickly.”
Now, “This Old Lie” introduces the record. A wiry distorted riff kicks off the song before snapping into a soaring and soulful chant, hinting at the scope of his vision. “I wanted to start the record off with it, because it’s where your head’s at when you’re trying to start over,” he admits. “That’s what I was writing about.”
The clean guitar of “Love & Respect” belies a clever intensity drawn from Facebook rants by “a fascinating character who sits in an apartment smoking weed and sharing videos of great punk and rock ‘n’ roll all day.” Among many A-list guests, Zander Schloss [Circle Jerks/Joe Strummer/Thelonius Monster] can be heard on “Ordinary Fool,” while Ty Bailie [Katy Perry] provides keyboards throughout.
Andrew and Co. also take on Mountain’s “Never In My Life” with a little help from not one, but two guitar legends—Brad Whitford of Aerosmith and Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society, and Zakk Sabbath. They lock and load the tune with incendiary fret fireworks and epic interplay between the three six-string-slingers.
“Sometimes, I work as a road manager for the Experience Hendrix tours,” he continues. “Along the way, I became buddies with Brad and Zakk. Mountain is actually Brad’s favorite band. He told me all of these stories about seeing them in Boston back in the day. He and Zakk both played on the song during a day off in New Orleans. They’re such different guitar players and personalities, but it was really fun to have them on the same track—especially a song I love so much.”
In the end, not only does the record represent rock ‘n’ roll at its realist, but it’s also the best way to get to know Andrew.
“This was an important moment for me,” he leaves off. “I’m really owning this. I want people to know this music still exists, and it’s thriving. That’s who I am and who I’ve always been.”