Stephen Egerton with Drag the River, Slorder and more
8 p.m. Friday
8911 N. Western
Stephen Egerton has no shortage of thoughts or ideas. In fact, the musician and producer/studio owner has more tracks than time, but every one of the songs he spent years assembling piece by piece in “downtime” between sessions other artists booked at his Armstrong Recording studio in Tulsa were all missing one thing: a voice.
Friends are everything in the music business, and Egerton knows he’s blessed.
Released last Tuesday, “The Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton” is a 16-track album with music written and recorded entirely by him. However, all of the vocals and most of the lyrics were written and performed by a eclectic cross-section of his friends, most of whom he met while playing guitar for seminal punk outfit the Descendents and its offshoot, All.
Seven years ago, Egerton moved to Tulsa from Fort Collins, Colo., where the Descendents had relocated, to be closer to his wife’s family. With both bands on hiatus, he hit the road as a crew member for Christian punk band MxPx and started building his own recording studio.
After his son’s birth in 2004, Egerton made Armstrong Recording his full-time gig, and started making his way by producing albums for bands like The Ataris, Lagwagon, Less Than Jake, Drag the River and Hagfish.
Egerton said he immediately started recording demos and snippets of song ideas. Often, he just laid tape to guitar riffs and vocal melodies, or used the music to test out a particular recording technique.
“Even if it’s just me doing it in a room, it’s fine,” he said. “My whole life, I’ve been compelled to do this.”
Along the way, the bits became songs, which Egerton fleshed out alone in the studio, re-tracking each with himself on drums and bass. In only a few years, Egerton said he amassed 26 songs, each a complete musical concept with a vocal melody already written.
He could do everything, except sing.
“That’s something you would never want to hear,” he said with a laugh. “It’s where Kermit the Frog and Gilligan mix.”
Thankfully, he made friends with a lot of singers along the way, and Egerton’s wife suggested he reach out and finish the album.
“I started imagining all the different vocalists I knew, singing on those tracks, and I got really excited,” he said.
Egerton auditioned each singer in his mind and sent out demos. “Seven Degrees” features his old All bandmates Scott Reynolds and Chad Price, who co-founded Colorado alt-country outfit Drag the River with Jon Snodgrass, who also sings on the album. Appearing as well are Chris DeMakes of Florida ska favorite Less Than Jake, The Fags’ John Speck and Black Gold Band leader John Moreland of Tulsa.
Egerton will debut “Seven Degrees” to metro audiences Friday night at The Conservatory. Most of the disc’s vocalists are flying or driving in to perform at the concert. Because Egerton played all the instruments on the album, he will be backed live by a rotating assembly of musicians from Drag the River and Reynolds’ Steaming Beast, which will open the show, as well as bassist Bryan Gorder and drummer Jay Clements, who perform alongside him in Tulsa’s all-instrumental band Slorder.
“I’m the luckiest guy alive when it comes to great friendships and people who have been willing to, you know, put out something really cool for me,” Egerton said. “It’s been fantastic.” “Joe Wertz