A.D. 2020 releasing debut album
A.D. 2020, a collection of gifted musicians and headed by longtime friends Mark McNelley and Todd Thanhauser, are gearing up for the long-awaited release of their debut album, Lockdown Diaries, which will be out tomorrow.
The album features new single "Ricochet" and will be out on all streaming platforms and available for purchase at the band's website here and on Itunes. However, Itunes will not include the album's full lyrics and artwork. Both will be available on the version being sold at the A.D. 2020 website.
The album features the lineup of McNelley on lead vocals, Thanhauser on drums, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal on guitars, Dan Reed on guitars and keyboards and Greg Smith on bass.
The band also recently released their remake of War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?," which was shot in their home studios on two different continents and is unique in that it has six people on lead vocals.
The track's accompanying video gives everyone a glimpse of the band's life during the pandemic and lockdown.
Recently, Rock Life got a chance to speak with drummer Thanhauser, who shed some light on how the project came together and what's next for the band.
Q: How are things going for you?
Todd Thanhauser: Good; we're definitely busy. It's been a fun year, but now it's starting to get serious because the record is coming out. We're just doing a lot of press and trying to get some of the final details ironed out before the record is released.
Q: Can you talk a bit about how the album came together?
TT: Absolutely! Last year at the height of the pandemic, Dan Reed and I were in conversation about some other business that we were doing together and I realized that a lot of people were just bored with nothing going on. They were all in contact worrying about how they were going to pay bills.
I had been wanting to do an original project with Mark McNelley, the lead singer on the album and I had wanted Dan to be involved in some way. It just seemed like the right opportunity at the right time. During one of our phone calls, I mentioned to Dan that I wanted to do this record with Mark and we'd like you to write songs with us if you're down to doing that with me and he said yeah, I'm on board.
He ended up asking who else we were going to have the project because we needed a lead guitar player and we needed a bass player. At that point in time, I told him well, I know Greg Smith from Ted Nugent's band and all of the other great bands that he's played with and I might be able to get him, he only lives a couple of hours from me.
Then when we started talking about guitar, I said I might be able to get Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, who I had also met previously. I'd also been listening to a lot of rock material at that time and was just blown away not only by his playing, but also by his musicianship and vocal abilities and all that kind of stuff. I thought he would be a great guy to have on this record.
Dan thought I was crazy, but he said alright, if you can get all of that together, then I'll do it. Yeah, that's kind of how it all happened. It came together through a few phone calls and we wrote some demos and everybody said they'd like to be involved. It's been a really cool project from that standpoint of things.
Q: Do you feel that the fact that you all have had your own projects and experience coming into this project helped things come together pretty quickly and run smoothly?
TT: It did. The other thing is that Mark and myself have worked together on various projects on and off over the last twelve years. Yeah, we've had a lot of experience and we also had some really great professors. For me, this has kind of been like a year of college with Reed and Bumblefoot and Smith as my professors. We've had such great mentors and friends and it's really been great!
Q: And what do you want people to really know about the album?
TT: Basically the album was conceived and recorded at the height of the pandemic and the songs were all intended to be out sooner. I thought we'd be getting this together and out last year, but it just didn't happen, but the point is that the songs were written for the people who were really feeling they needed something to pick them up.
That's really where we went with it. It's a feel good type album and filled with positive messaging. I also think it's a great record to cruise to. It's something you want to listen to in its entirety because it takes you on a journey through different landscapes and different musical textures and it's just a fun record.
Q: That definitely comes across in the singles released so far.
Q: When you were writing "Undivided" and "Ricochet," did you have a idea about the videos already?
TT: You know, it's funny because the way the album worked is that Mark and I wrote all of the lyrics for the songs. We kind of did everything like the Lennon and McCartney song book, but in addition we had Dan Reed on board so there were three of us at the end of the day really putting it all together.
We kind of share in everything rather than having a Todd song or a Mark song. Everything was written with that feel good aspect in it and written really fast over the course of about six weeks.
"Undivided" was a song that I sort of had the lead on. It was the third song that we'd written and it was kind of my response to what was going on in the U.S. basically. Dan worked on it and played me back the demo and we were really happy with it. We had wanted to get it out in 2020, but the best we could do was the first week of 2021.
"Ricochet" was a Mark song that he'd had in his catalogue for a little bit. He had done some demos with other people and it was one of those songs that Mark and I never really talked about what it was about. We had so much going on and when I was listening to it, to me it had a Southwest flavor with Arizona and tumbleweed on my mind. I had a couple of different video guys work up videos for it.
The first video I didn't like at all; it was terrible. Then we were looking at doing a different one and I thought, let me call Mark since he's the writer. I wanted to find out what was in his head. To me it was about him making it in the business, but no, when I talked to him, he said no, I was thinking about cosmic pinball and envisioning people inside some kind of game. He felt the meaning was about how we interact with each other and kind of bounce off of each other through life and kind of teach each other in certain ways. That was really how it played out.
Q: And what's next? Will there be more singles released?
TT: We were looking at that. There's going to be one or two more coming. We have a video coming out for our remake of War's "Why Can't We Be Friends." What's really cool about it is that all six of us took a crack at lead vocals on it. We've got seven verses that six people sing and it's just kind of a cool version.
That's out August 1 and then we may have another single out in September. We're not sure which one yet.
Q: Have you thought about trying to get out on a stage together?
TT: Haha! We tend to refer to ourselves as the Non-Traveling Wilbury's . You know, I can't speak for everyone and I know the likelihood of all six of us getting up on stage and playing together is highly unlikely, but you may see a few of us get together. If the opportunity is there, we'll grab it. Everybody is welcome.
It could also be a case that Mark and I further develop the project a little bit with different people so I don't want to close doors or anything. We'll see how it goes!
Q: Do you think this particular lineup will come together to record another album?
TT: We've talked about it and we've had some good feedback on that and yes they would. I think it's definitely more than likely that we will do another album. We got along tremendously well with no drama. It was all fantastic and I would welcome it if we can all do a second one.