Group at Work: J Roddy Walston and The Business
If you listen closely to Essential Tremors, the new album from J Roddy Walston and The Business, then you can hear an underlying sense of dance fervor. Not the electronic beats that populate todayâs music but an old-school, Motown-tinged rock sort of dance rhythm.
âFor a while, I was saying to the guys, âWhat if we didnât write songs and we just had grooves and we made our version of what people should dance to?ââ Walston says, citing Michael Jacksonâs Thriller as an influence. âKind of a James Brown thing with no real chorus or verseâjust me repeating the same
thing. Everybody was like, âThatâs a bad idea!â But the nuggets of songs are in there.â
The album, the groupâs first for ATO Records and third fulllength since forming in 2002, went through several iterations during the writing process, each
version shaping the 11 songs that appear on the final collection. Last year, the band took a break for the first time in six years and returned home to work on their new material. Then, this spring, they went into the studio with producers Mark Neill and Matt Wignall in Valdosta, Ga., armed with a slew of raucously thumping songs that Walston says were â95 percent done.â The process lasted two and a half weeksâa relatively long time for the group.
âWe do all of the experimenting at home,â Walston says. âDemoing and structuring and building songs up and breaking them down is all a part of our writing process. That extra five percent is what the producers bring in. Itâs the glue that forces together a bunch of songs that are good on their own and makes it a record.â
The groupâs fall tour will offer an interpretation of Essential Tremors that lends additional depth to a set of tracks that careen from Zeppelin-like bombastic swagger (âSweat Shockâ) to Cheap Trick-infused pop vamping (âSame Daysâ). They will also put that dance sensibility to the test.
âSeeing a band live is part of understanding records, at least for me,â Walston says. âI donât write off a record until I have a chance to see it live.â