November 11, 2022
Neil Merryweather of Space Rangers fame died on March 28, 2021. A few years earlier he had started recording an album together with Janne Stark and John Wackerman which Janne completed in 2022. This album called Cosmic Affect is now being released.
It all started on Nov 29, 2019, when Janne Stark was in Las Vegas finishing up the second Merryweather Stark album together with Neil Merryweather. While there, they were invited to check out the Skeleton Key Recordings studio. There they met drummer John Wackerman and the three of them hit it off immediately. Studio owner, Bobby Ferrari, said the studio was not booked that weekend and suggested they should come in and jam.
Janne hadn’t brought any guitar, so he borrowed a Les Paul Junior from his friend, former Shrapnel Records owner, Mike Varney. Neil, Janne, and John instantly hit it off musically and the ideas and inspiration were flowing. Bobby had set up to record, just in case, and the first day they ended up writing and recording three songs.
On the second day they managed to get four new songs down. They were based on some old ideas Neil and Janne had, plus some new stuff they wrote there and then. Musically they were leaning on the '70s era of hard rock with inspiration from bands like Bad Company, Point Blank, ZZ Top and even a hint of King’s X in a few riffs. Since it was going so well, Bobby said they could use the studio also on the Monday morning.
On the third day they quite quickly got two songs down. Time was now running out and they only needed one more song to make it ten, which felt like an album. John suggested he’d just start a beat and then let it take its own course. No pre-planning, no initial ideas, no click track, just go for it. It ended up being the song "End Times." Neil then recorded the vocals in his own studio and Janne went back to Sweden where he finished his guitars and bass. Since no click tracks were used, they had to get in the groove with John’s drumming, which was no problem. They also invited their friend Mike Varney to record a guest solo.
In January 2021, Neil started having eye problems. It however turned out to be a malignant brain tumor. He had it removed, but they knew it wasn’t going to be a happy ending. On March 28, Janne and Neil Facetimed, talking about Janne coming over so they could mix the album and finish up what they started as soon as Covid was over. Only a few hours later Neil sadly passed away.
Here the story could have ended, but together with Neil’s partner, Kathleen, they decided the album should be finished and released. In March 2022, Janne flew over to Las Vegas to retrieve Neil’s vocal files from his studio and again meet up with John and Bobby. He took the files back to Sweden to mix and master the album. The title of the album, Cosmic Affect, was John’s idea, since there was surely something cosmic that affected these three minds to come up with an album’s worth of great songs in just two and a half days.
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