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An album written by common men for the common people, exploring our human experience: love, death, lies, and truth.
An album written by common men for the common people, exploring our human experience: love, death, lies, and truth.
67 backers pledged $4,496 to help bring this project to life.

About

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Sunset over Dayton in the week leading up to recording The Great Commoner.
Sunset over Dayton in the week leading up to recording The Great Commoner.

The Great Commoner is a truly unique album. Each member of the band anticipated recording and producing it more than any other collection of songs we've worked on, and it has proven to be a blast to create. Here is its story:

By the winter of 2011, we had been playing most of these songs for about a year, and we were absolutely DYING to finally lay down some tracks. People had been asking "When are you going to record Dear Penelope?" or "When can we get a copy of Marriage Song?" 

Many songs were rehearsed on the back porch of the brick house some of us slept at, but all of us lived in.
Many songs were rehearsed on the back porch of the brick house some of us slept at, but all of us lived in.

Well, there were several obstacles in the way of recording:

1. Luke Lillard, Jesse Murray, Clayton Schmidt, and Trevor Haught (the whole band but Justus!) were all in the rigors of senior year at Bryan College.

2. We didn't have any money.

3. We didn't have a space in which to record.

4. We didn't have the equipment needed to achieve the kind of sound quality the new songs deserved. 

So, what happened? The Lord opened several huge doors: First of all, Michael Minkoff (sound engineer and founder of the Nehemiah Foundation for Cultural Renewal) offered to make Brock's Folly a sponsored band with the Nehemiah Foundation. That meant he would record and mix our album FOR FREE!

Michael (as well as his wife, Vanessa,  and three children!) agreed to head up to Dayton to record the Great Commoner.
Michael (as well as his wife, Vanessa, and three children!) agreed to head up to Dayton to record the Great Commoner.

But we still needed a space. We approached Bryan College about our need for a place to record, and the Department of Operations was incredibly generous! They offered to let us use Brock Hall (our namesake) for recording during Christmas break.This killed two birds with one stone: we got a recording space PLUS the guys in school would have time to record because school was out. Eureka! 

Clayton driving into Dayton.
Clayton driving into Dayton.

And so it was, on December 30th, we gathered. First came Jesse, Justus, and Luke. We turned Brock Hall into a labyrinth of dorm mattress baffles, cables, tables, swaths of uncut fabric from the local La-Z-Boy factory, umbrellas, old theatre walls, and a golden dog head (leftover from a school production) we christened the Recording Hound. 

Jesse, Luke, and Justus shortly after setting up baffles. The recording hound can be seen nestled between swaths of fabric on the drum baffles, his nose pointed toward the drums.
Jesse, Luke, and Justus shortly after setting up baffles. The recording hound can be seen nestled between swaths of fabric on the drum baffles, his nose pointed toward the drums.

Clayton came soon afterward, driving from his Christmas in Wisconsin, and started setting up drums, and was followed by Michael and Phil Hodges. Coffee was made, french presses broken, instruments were tuned, baffles were arranged, computers were turned on, cables were plugged in, and we all held our breath as recording commenced.

Clayton tunes the new drum heads for recording.
Clayton tunes the new drum heads for recording.

Tracking proved to be extremely challenging, but equally rewarding. We all took turns at our instruments. Clayton killed the drums in the first two days, and a rigorous schedule was established. Hours upon hours were spent at a time, getting the right tone and takes. Very quickly, a nap area was established using leftover mattresses, and coffee was in constant production.

Jesse drinks John's coffee, waiting for his turn to record.
Jesse drinks John's coffee, waiting for his turn to record.

After several days recording in Brock Hall, we carried all of the gear up a flight of stairs to the Rudd Atrium, where we tracked certain instruments and vocals that needed the spacious, majestic reverb that is naturally produced in that room. It turned out wonderfully. The reverb was so perfect in the Atrium that a tradition was quickly established to end a day of recording by singing the doxology there.

Tracking big accordion sound in the Atrium.
Tracking big accordion sound in the Atrium.

Wondering which songs we recorded? 

Here's the final cut:

1. William Jennings

2. Boston

3. Primary Issues

4. Utah

5. Same Table

6. Dear Penelope

7. Foxy Lady

8. Shaming Cupid

9. Marriage Song

10. A Lesson in Dying from Heather

11. Romans 8:11

12. Night Before

13. Who Will Speak? (Postlude) 

Brock Hall was the room we started in, the room we were named after, and now, the room we were recording in. And it was perfect. It sounded great: big and spacious, but clear and defined. 

Brock Hall's characteristic rafters frame Simon Lillard, who joined us for some crucial instrumentation and morale support
Brock Hall's characteristic rafters frame Simon Lillard, who joined us for some crucial instrumentation and morale support

We recorded all day every day, oftentimes late into the night, and by January 10th, we were done. There were some later touch-ups and re-recordings, but 90% of the tracks on the album were recorded in the whirlwind of those eleven days in Dayton.

Record, review. Record, review.
Record, review. Record, review.

This is where the story starts to slow down: mixing (and remixing [and re-remixing]) had to be done around the schedule of Michael and the band, and since those rarely aligned, progress was slow. Very slow. In fact, it has been almost two years since that snowy winter of recording in Tennessee. 

Michael working on the mix.
Michael working on the mix.

But, we are happy to announce that the album is ready to be sent to the mastering engineer, which brings us to this kickstarter.

We need some money in order to get this album into your hands. Here is a cost breakdown:

$1,200 for mastering

$1,600 for duplication (pressing CDs, cases, inserts, etc.) 

$1,200 for some very basic advertising so that we can get this CD into the hands of as many people as we can realistically expect. 

Luke and Simon, listening to the progress.
Luke and Simon, listening to the progress.

If we can raise this money (or more!!), then we will be able to finish this album in a matter of several weeks. It has been a long race, and we want you to join us in crossing the finish line. 

Dear friends like Jeremy have always been willing to encourage and help, like here, when he joined us for a Mo-Mo's lunch run during recording. We are confident in our fans' willingness to help that they have proven time and time again.
Dear friends like Jeremy have always been willing to encourage and help, like here, when he joined us for a Mo-Mo's lunch run during recording. We are confident in our fans' willingness to help that they have proven time and time again.

On a final note, we want to make this clear: we are very proud of this production. The songs were painstakingly written and intentionally recorded. We love the way it sounds, and we think you will too. It is an honest and transparent product of our hearts in an effort to praise our Lord and relate the events of our lives. Please join our hearts by enjoying our music. 

Photos Courtesy of Sarah Becker Lillard.

Risks and challenges

At this point, since the vast majority of work has already been done, the main risk of this project is reaching our donation goal. In other words, our biggest risk is losing your interest! But at the same time, you can be our greatest asset in achieving our goal. So please, donate what you can, share this page with your friends, and let the world know about what we are trying to accomplish.

Once funded, we will be fighting the clock, trying to get the Great Commoner mastered within a few weeks, and get the duplication done by the end of January, ready to ship by the first of February. This will certainly be a challenge, but knowing that everyone is waiting for the great tunes should be a great incentive.

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    Pledge $2 or more About $2.00

    THE SILVER STANDARD. You get a big ol' shout out from our facebook page for contributing to the cause! Plus a cosmic high-five.

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    THE CROSS OF GOLD PACKAGE. You get a signed, hand-written postcard from us, thanking you for your support, and a stern handshake from a reincarnate William Jennings Bryan.

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    Pledge $9 or more About $9

    THE LEAN, GREEN PACKAGE. You get a digital download of the Great Commoner. And we'll hug a tree in honor of your eco-friendly contribution.

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    THE MEAN, GREEN PACKAGE. You get a digital download of the album, PLUS digital download of lyrics, photos, insert, and poster.

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    DIGITAL EARLY BIRD. You are one of the first five people who get the MEAN, GREEN package a week before anyone else! Man, that was fast!

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    THE 1998 PACKAGE. Hot off the press, you get a physical CD copy of The Great Commoner, delivered by an actual postman straight to your actual house. You can still smell the warm ink. And unwashed hair of late night recordings. Includes everything in the Mean, Green package.

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    THE EATEN WORM. Get a hard copy of that CD in your hands, a week before anyone else gets said CDs. Oh, the sweet one-uppery! And no! You won't share! Includes Mean, Green package.

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    THE HUCKLEBERRY. I'm your huckleberry. If you choose me, not only do you get a physical CD, but it's signed by the members of the band! At least, the ones that matter. Jk. Includes everything in the Mean, Green package. Never before has so many signatures been promised to so many for so little.

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    THE JOHN PIATT HONORARY. Choose this package to get a signed CD, everything in the Mean Green Package, AND, like Piatt himself does, you will have access to a large handful of previously unreleased B-Side recordings and singles to download. A wise choice for a seasoned donor.

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    THE UNCLE BOB HOPE PACKAGE. Here's for you guys who want to just laugh at us. Get The Piatt, the Mean Green package, and EXCLUSIVE access to a blooper reel from our Kickstarter video and recording session. Trust us: it's embarrassingly honest. And it might include Justus kissing Michael on the cheek.

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    THE MEDUSA. Get everything in the Piatt, the Mean Green, and two locks of hair: one golden yellow, the other mud-puddle brown. Both freshly washed. You can guess whose is whose.

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    THE PRODUCER. Get the Mean Green, the Piatt, the Uncle Bob Hope, AND tell us ANY song you want us to cover (including Brock's Folly originals). We will record a video of our performance and post it to our facebook, band website, and kickstarter page. Look at you, moving and shaking!

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    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    THE CELEB. You get the Mean Green, the Piatt, and the Uncle Bob Hope, PLUS we will write an original song about you. That's right, your own theme song. This is not an everyday opportunity.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    THE VIP. You get the Mean Green, the Piatt, the Uncle Bob Hope, AND an exclusive invitation to the master-reference listening party! That's right, hear the newly finished album, just back from the mastering engineer, with the band! We promise not to listen without you, making this listening party a truly unique and exclusive event. We will work with the VIP group to make sure we set a date that (reasonably) works with everyone!

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    Pledge $120 or more About $120

    THE MIXING ENGINEER. You get the Mean Green, the Piatt, the Uncle Bob Hope, AND The hand-written notes of band members, specifying mixing changes that needed to happen during the final mixes of the Great Commoner. Limited to just one donor, these notes are for the closest, most attentive listener whose ears know what's best. Be alone in such greatness!

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    Pledge $130 or more About $130

    THE RECORDING ENGINEER. You get the Mean Green, the Piatt, The Uncle Bob Hope, AND the hand-written, original sketches/notes of the recording process. Our producer (Michael Minkoff) sent hand-written notes sketching instructions for setting up Brock Hall. Also included are his notes on instrumentation. Limited to only ONE donor, this is a must-have for the most hard-core fan. Oh! The singularity!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    THE EXECUTIVE. You get the Mean Green, the Piatt, the Uncle Bob Hope, AND, when we get the finished, physical boxes of CDs, you will be invited for the official OPENING party. You can help open those beautiful cardboard boxes, fish out your lucky copy, and kick back for an exclusive evening of music, stories, and antics. What could be more fun? You'll get an engraved invitation! Literally!

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    THE PROUD HOUSE. Not only do you get the Mean Green, the Piatt, the Uncle Bob Hope, and the VIP invitation, BUT we will ALSO play an acoustic show at your house! Invite as many friends as you want, and help create the set list—this event is bound to succeed! (Please, only donors about 140 miles from Atlanta)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    THE MANAGER. Not only do you get the Mean Green, the Piatt, the Uncle Bob Hope, and the VIP invitation, BUT we will ALSO play a fully-amplified, all-out show! This bangin' deal will need you to provide a location, and nothing more! (Please, only donors about 140 miles from Atlanta)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    THE BROCK'S FOLLY GODFATHER. With this donation, you get the Mean Green, the Piatt, the Uncle Bob Hope, the Proud House, and a VIP invitation, but you will also be mentioned in the liner notes as a primary backer of The Great Commoner, and officially titled the Godfather of Brock's Folly. Plus, because we are so incredibly thankful, we will make you dinner. Anything you want. Jesse and Justus will cook it.

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Funding period

- (26 days)