Going all in.There is nothing more exciting in a poker game than when someone assembles all their chips into little colorful towers and pushes them toward the dealer.
Like a renegade commander, they are cutting themselves off from reinforcements and are advancing on the enemy, come hell or high water. Though you can question the reasoning or motives of such a move, you can’t deny the guts it takes to make that decision. South Lake Tahoe rock duo Black Star Safari seems to have come to the same bold decision with the release of its newest EP, “All In.”
Guitarist Dan Green and drummer Matt Mandella of Black Star Safari recorded the self-produced five-song EP in a blazing one-week session at the house they shared in Meyers. Despite the quick recording, the band ran into issues during the mixing process. It was disappointed with the initial mixing and ran through a couple of different mixers before it was satisfied, a process Green noted as “a pile of patience.” The band’s patience was rewarded with a quality recording Green feels is a step above their last EP “Cut and Dry,” released almost a year ago.
“I would definitely say we’re more satisfied (with “All In”). It is a gradual process getting closer and closer to producing what you hear in your head, and it has certainly gotten a lot closer on this one. … It’s a lot different. Different songs. It is diverse still, we like to maintain our diversity, but it certainly has a little more rock edge I would say,” said Green.
In addition to the draining production process, the band also had to deal with the split of bassist Mark Mickens. Mickens was a part of the “All In” recordings, yet amicably left soon after. A lot of bands would crack with the departure of a solid musician like Mickens, but Green pointed out that it helped solidify the connection he and Mandella have playing together.
“It was daunting at the beginning but I feel like we fell back into ourselves with it. I think both of us look at it as a positive thing, in fact, I know both of us look at as a positive thing, Green said. “I guess we’re both more comfortable at this stage playing with each other.”
So between Micken’s farewell and the search for a satisfying mix, “All In” is a labor of love for Green and Mandella, and the two are excited to finally get some of the songs they have been honing live on a proper recording. Green admitted with a chuckle that he can’t nail down a favorite track off the EP because it changes day-to-day, which is a testament to the diversity of the songs on the album, from the bluegrass-based “The Coal Miner” to the big funk of “Victims of the Groove.” Green attests this diversity to his varied approaches to creating songs.
“Really I look at it as a song-to-song basis,” he said. “I try to connect emotionally to different styles, different feelings. Yeah, different emotions basically, and trying to convey those in different ways. So I wouldn’t say there is one blanket technique that we use to approach songs.”
In step with the EP’s gung-ho title, Green and Mandella decided to pack their belongings into Green’s RV to live life on the road and spread their wings farther than Lake Tahoe to support their release. They are embarking on a tour along the coast that will see them playing in California in May, Oregon in June and Washington in July. Their adventure began with live music at Lake Tahoe, a blowout costume party CD release at the American Legion on Saturday, May 16 at the American Legion in South Lake with friends Weapon and Big Sticky Mess.
“We are just hitting the road and booking all the shows by ourselves, trying to take it a day at a time, and playing as much as humanly possible and putting it out there,” Gree said. … We’re just getting out of the area and exploring; going on an adventure.”
Back to a svelte twosome, Black Star Safari is as personally invested in its future as it has ever been, poker chips be damned. Green and Mandella went all in with their EP. They are all in their bond with each other and are going all in, bringing their music to more people.