MO75

The Story of MO75

by: Matt Farley

The Big Heist is the name of the band.

Tom Scalzo on lead guitar, vocals, and additional guitar parts

Chris "Pete" Peterson on bass and vocals

Doug "Frog" Brennan on drums, guitars and vocals

Matt Farley on keyboards, guitars and vocals

I've known Frog since we were 7 years old.  We met Pete in high school.  Before long, the three of us formed a band called Projection From The Side.  We recorded several albums on cassette in the late 1990s.  They were mostly recorded in Frog's mom's basement.  We continued getting together to collaborate during breaks from college.  Then Pete moved to Los Angeles and Frog moved to Florida.

In college, I met Scalzo.  We recorded several sprawling albums on cassettes in our dorm rooms.  After graduating, we kept at it.  We named ourselves Moes Haven and released 25 albums from 2004-2010.  Then Tom moved from Boston to upstate New York.  

In 2012, Pete moved back to Massachusetts.

In 2014, Frog came up for a wedding and suggested we get Projection From The Side back together.  Pete was all for it.  We threw together an album called Basement Reunion.  It was good.  It felt good to be collaborating again.

In 2015, I made an album called Motern Heartburn that was released only on vinyl.  Pete helped me write several tracks, and he played guitar on much of the album.  I recruited Frog to record a guitar track in Florida that he sent to me.  I added the rest of the instruments.  Scalzo and I used the same method to record 2 more songs for that album.  It worked remarkably well.  It felt good to collaborate.

In 2017, I started an annual Motern Extravaganza where Pete, Frog, Scalzo and I would perform a 5-hour concert in Danvers, MA.  We had never played together until the night before the show.  Pete had never played bass before early 2017 when I bought him a bass and asked him to learn it!  The show was exhilarating!  It felt like we were on to something.

That summer, Pete and I started a new band called The Finklestinks.  We got together every week until we had enough songs for Double Take Action, which is an incredible album.  

Then Frog had to come to Boston for a wedding in October.  So he told me to write a bunch of songs that we could record on the day after the wedding.  We spent the day recording most of Let's Go Camping! by Projection From The Side.  Serendipitously, Scalzo was in Boston a few days later.  So I recruited him to add lead guitar tracks on several of those songs.  It sounded incredible.  We were on to something.

Everyone was feeling inspired.

Pete wanted to do another Finklestinks album.  We talked about it a lot, coming to the conclusion that the album should be about parties in the woods.  We had never partied in the woods--it was kind of out of style where we grew up by the time we were old enough.  But we remembered being kids in the early 80s, and seeing evidence in the woods of epic parties.  We wanted to do an album that would capture that raw energy.

Frog kept telling me that we needed to do an album that was really good--something that would make a statement, show the world how great we are.  Most of our albums are an acquired taste.  He wanted us to make something that would immediately grab even casual listeners.

Scalzo kept sending me notes on an Americana / folk album he wanted to put together.

It eventually dawned on me that these three ideas could easily be combined into one epic musical statement.  So I informed the guys that the four of us were going to create an epic triple album called MO75.  

The name MO75 came to me when I saw the word "SLOW" painted on a road.  From the opposite direction, it looked like "MO75."  I thought that MO75 might have been the type of thing someone might have spray painted on a rock in the woods during a woods party in 1980.  Maybe a guy with the initials M.O. graduated 8th grade in 1975, and that became his trademark.  The album wouldn't be a rock opera that told his story.  We would just try to channel the vibe of that character when we wrote the songs.

After much discussion, we called ourselves The Big Heist.

Work commenced soon after the 2018 Motern Extravaganza in June.  We wrote lots of songs--close to 75 of them.

The plan was for Pete and me to record at my house, then to send the tracks to Frog in Florida and Tom in New York so they could finish the songs.  But Frog was so committed to the project that he flew to Massachusetts for a long weekend in August.  We recorded his drums for 45 songs during that weekend.

Since then, we've been adding instruments to these recordings until each one is complete.  It's been a long process.  Music is not a source of income for any of the band members other than me.  The other three guys have day jobs, wives, and children.  But they'e carved out enough time to make this album something that we all can be proud of.  And we are very proud of MO75.

The triple album is being released 1 volume at a time, beginning in October of 2018.  It's the best thing we've done.  The songs are incredibly well written, and the recordings are done with great care.  We've always been more than dabblers when it came to music.  But we've never thrown ourselves this deep into a project.  We are all 40 years old.  We all think we're creative geniuses.  This feels like it might be our last chance to prove it.

Of course, after no one pays much attention to MO75 Vols. 1, 2, or 3, we will most likely pick up the pieces and begin work on another last chance to prove ourselves.  But, until then, it's MO75 or bust.

MO75 Vol. 1

Side A

The Longest Day (Farley)

I wrote this song from the point of view of the MO75 character.  He's a guy who wants to do everything, and is becoming frustrated by his friends, who are content to just hang around.  Frog and I recorded guitar and drums in August.  Then Pete added bass a few weeks later.  Tom added an incredible lead guitar track after that.  I mixed it all, adding backing vocals and keyboards.

When The Beat Gets Settled (Farley / Peterson)

Pete and I wrote this during an early session.  I said to him, "Make up a great bass line."  Moments later, he had done just that.  I started playing some guitar to go along with what he was doing.  And we were off!  The two of us recorded the track with Frog on the drums in my basement in August.  During the following weeks, we polished it up, and I added the lyrics, which are essentially a bombastic attempt to win a woman's affection.

Loring Ave (Farley / Peterson)

Much like the previous track, this one started with Pete's bass line.  It was also recorded the same way, only Scalzo added more fantastic lead guitar from his recording studio in New York.  Pete wrote most of the lyrics and gave them to me.  I made a few alterations before singing the final track.

Lookout (Farley / Peterson)

I wrote the music and the melody, then handed it over to Pete, who wrote the words.  Frog added drums when he was hear in August.  Pete added bass.  Scalzo added a lead track played on something called a cuatro, which I'd never heard of before.  

Crossroads (Brennan)

Frog recorded most of this track on his own in Florida before sending it north so Pete could add bass and I could add piano.  It's incredibly fun and, again, surprisingly danceable.  This album has more rhythm than we've ever had before!

Blue Creek (Farley)

Farley on acoustic guitar and keyboards.  Frog on drums and electric guitar.  Pete on bass.  This is a groovy way to end what would be Side A of this album if we ever made a vinyl pressing.  

Side B

We're About To Have One Heck of a Night (Farley)

This is a sweet, folky rock song from the point of view of a guy who is trying to make sure everything goes right on his date.  

Devil on my Side (Farley / Peterson)

Pete wrote these lyrics for Motern Heartburn in 2015.   But nothing ever came of them.  I happened to discover them again while working on this album.  After writing the music for the song, I handed everything over to Frog, who plays guitars and drums, and produced the song.  It's a pretty soulful song, with more hints of 1960s R&B.

Bucket Seats (Farley)

Another song about fearing that life is passing us by.  Lots of sweet melodies in this one.  Frog keeps the beat driving throughout, and Pete's bass is a nice compliment to the piano and guitar.

It's a Shame That I Let You Down (Scalzo / Farley)

Scalzo wrote this one.  But he wanted to record a loose acoustic version.  I told him the song was too catchy for such an arrangement.  I stole the song from him, rewrote a few of the words, added a bridge, and recorded this incredibly catchy slice of Americana.  I told him it was a shame that I let him down by reworking his song.  But he said it was ok.

Campfire Connection (Farley)

The song is about the MO75 guy as he thinks about leaving town.  This song is great, until the midway point, where it becomes amazing thanks to Scalzo's lead guitar work.

MO75 (Farley / Peterson)

The title track.  This is the first song we recorded for the album.  

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