Richie Mayer’s new record, The Inn of Temporary Happiness, sounds like an ode to the music Mayer feels connected to. He uses many different styles without the record becoming a hotchpotch. You can hear the influences of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Cars, and Glenn Campbell, just so you are aware there is a country song included as well :). Mayer takes you on a musical journey but you may have expected that when you saw the album cover.
Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Richie about songs that were waiting to be sung, health insurance and, his former Power Pop band, Loose Lips.
How did this record come together?
The album came together of its own free will really; I was just dragged into it….
Actually, the Covid lockdown restrictions became a kind of freedom as I retreated to my home studio, and to my surprise, songs were waiting to be sung where I thought there were none. I wrote thirteen of the new songs on the album in six weeks, a world record for me. Then the hard work began as I was, essentially, “the band.” I sang all the vocals, played all the instruments, recorded and produced the tracks. I mixed remotely using Audiomovers software with studios in Chicago, Austin, and Omaha, another new experience.
When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?
Truth be told, when I saw how varied the final selection of songs would be I thought it best to just put it out there and let it tell its own story.
The meaning of success has changed over the years. What would success look like for the new record?
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
For some of us, it’s not even a choice; it’s the air we breathe, really. The mystery of songwriting for me is that you never know where or when or how inspiration will manifest itself, but you damm well better be there to open the door when The Muse knocks.
What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
My Power Pop group at the time, Loose Lips, was playing the Chicagofest/Rock Around The Dock concert at Navy Pier, and at the last minute, our band was switched from the pop stage to the heavy metal stage. Throughout the set people were giving us the finger, throwing objects at us with one guy spitting on me. Our fans found us and a melee broke out.
At the end of the show, I was on full boil and was going to jump from the barge to the dock and clock the spitting f**ker with my guitar. Our road manager was looking at me with wild eyes shaking his head no so I turned, unplugged my guitar, and with a running start hurled my ’66 Fender Stratocaster into Lake Michigan.
Almost instantly, some young kid dove into the lake to get it and security people had to throw a rope at him to pull him and the guitar back in. The events’ Chicago city manager threatened to sue me as they pulled the kid out of the drink with water pouring out of the input jack. He tried to give it back to me but I let him keep it after he, of course, asked me to sign the guitar.
But it wasn’t all for naught though; the next day we had a front-page Chicago Tribune entertainment section headline – “Headliner Cheap Trick Heats Up Crowd; Crowd Heats Up Loose Lips” with the writer giving us one of our better reviews.
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
Yes, but it’s harder to get someone to actually buy it as opposed to ”Like” it.
You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, what would they be?
That each song on my album is a short story. And that the backing vocals and instrumental tracks on that song all color the story, create the mood, give you a key to another room at The Inn of Temporary Happiness.