For 2019 & beyond, the High Above 80 family of musicians has expanded into other music ventures, while continuing the original recording project.
“At the request of our agent,” says guitarist Frenchy Garcia, “Nicole & I have set apart an acoustic duo project. With a few regional performances now behind us, we can say it is ‘for real’ and part of the big picture moving into 2019.” The “Mellow Doubt” duo is totally raw (no backing tracks), and features only he on guitar, accompanying her voice, on a nice range of “unplugged” style music. While Frenchy throws in a few comedic songs (old Benny Hill, Hee Haw, and others with him singing), most of the night showcases Nicole’s renditions of 80’s & 90’s favorites – Jewel, Alanis Morisette, Madonna, No Doubt, etc., and some with more contemporary flair – Lady Gaga, Adele, etc.
“We are plugged into a mini PA system, and can handle restaurants and other small venues that support live music with a more laid-back presence,” he said. “It’s new territory for us, but the song list already supports a 4 hour engagement. We never stop developing.”
In the larger band, High Above 80 has five musicians, and five distinctly different perspectives. Put them all together in a recording studio, and you’re going to get five different answers as to what to write and/or record. Put 15 original songs on a recording device, and it’s pretty hard to envision what might come of them.
“Welcome to our world,” says Garcia. “In almost three years now together as a group, we are still at the starting gate with this album, even though a fair chunk of it is close to finished,” he reports. “Being a “get-r-done” personality is pointless. We are too busy exploring the periphery to ever say ‘this is ready.’” Or so it seems. But Frenchy also reports that the experimental direction has been a positive influence on the project.
“This band is so much different from anything I have worked with,” he says. “It is one big dynamic bowl of soup. Trying to bottle this creativity is a real test.”
He brought a whole bunch of ideas into the studio before the band even existed. “A lot of this started in the 80’s. Heck, I was writing stuff in high school (the 70’s) that I never managed to get recorded,” he says. “I started collecting it, and putting pieces together myself before I had even one member for the current band. Now there are new tools at our disposal, and new stories to add to the starting points. It started as a tribute to musicians I have worked with over many years in music,” he says. “But it has grown.”
“I was more worried about hair-spray than lyric content when some of these were started. It’s wacky – reworking them to fit a band that sounds more like Jefferson Airplane than Poison,” he says. “Nicole has front vocal parts. So the lyrics must move her direction. She isn’t going to sing about chasing girls and wearing leather,” he joked.
“On the other hand, Nicole never thought much about writing melodic poetry,” he says. “But she is now.”
Being too close to the songs, Frenchy is stepping back, and letting the girls (Nicole & Heidi) have at it with the original drafts. Changes are coming. Strange things are happening to Frenchy’s male-centric party and esoteric rants.
How is he holding up while change rolls over his song catalog? As he sees it, “there are two kinds of people – those who act like selfish idiots, and those who step aside and let everyone have their input. We sound better doing Quarterflash than Poison anyway. That’s who we are now. We’d be crazy not to spotlight our strengths.”
Nicole joined and is now the band’s liaison with, and song-writer member of, ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers). “We joined ASCAP because the two cover songs re-made for this first album are registered with ASCAP to start with. [Note: Jefferson Starship’s 1981 top 40 hit “Winds of Change,” and The Electric Angel’s “I Live In The City” are both completed musically, and planned for inclusion on whatever CD or other distribution vehicle(s) are selected.] It just appeared to us that ASCAP would be the better fit all around,” says Frenchy. “We are hopeful that our first album release will be out there for a long time. The royalties might outlive us both. We wanted to make sure things were positioned for the long-haul.”
“Much of the time, I’m living in the past,” says Frenchy. “Nicole & (bassist) Zach (Taylor) are younger, and more connected to the future. Yeah, I still know how to drive the car,” he says. “I’m also ok with being a passenger.”