The Last Hombres are more than just a collection of players, they are a real band, with a sum that eclipses the parts. They consist of five players, three of whom write songs for the band, with incredibly diverse backgrounds and extensive resumes. The songs are an amalgamation of dreams, poetry, and stories that together represent what The Last Hombres define as "the process." Trust the process, and the collaboration morphs from raw ingredients to powerful concoctions that are uniquely theirs, sharing these different views and styles with a passion for expressing hard life observations.
When asked to articulate qualities that define The Last Hombres, the band has no shortage of reference points. They offer collectively visible analogies that include, "The tightness of the Stax house band; the looseness of a second line; a chapter of a Flannery O'Connor novel; the pull of a Saturday night; the gravity of church on Sunday morning." The songs are deeply literate and driving roots rock that express aspects of the American experience from a multitude of angles - Americana with muscle. It is as if they are on a never-ending road trip from Broadway to Bourbon Street, and then back again. Guitarist Paul Schmitz shares, "The Last Hombres has always been about the journey, the trip, the sights we see along the way, the people we meet. The fun part. I don't think we would recognize a destination even if we stumbled on it."
This is chapter two for the band, In the beginning, Buddy Cage, pedal steel player for New Riders of the Purple Sage, was on board. Rick Danko invited the Hombres on stage to play behind him in their early days. Then, through a simple phone call, Levon Helm became their drummer for the Koch release Redemption. He stayed for a while, affording the band a legacy with a formidable foundation as the band Levon Helm chose to join. After releasing the well-received Redemption (Koch Records), the Hombres toured with Helm and appeared on live radio shows that included World Cafe. After a period of time, Levon opted to stay close to home, developing a series of celebrated barn parties (aka the Midnight Ramble). Hombres co-founder/songwriter Paul Schmitz joined him there, while Guitarist/songwriter Russ Seeger became a local fixture and in-demand guitar slinger. Mike Meehan brought his bass playing to alt-country fixtures the Welldiggers, releasing the album Back In Exile as Hombre Jones. Schmitz put out The Low Rollers’ Raised By Wolves, and Russ Seeger answered with Live in Peace. All became friends and musical collaborators with one Chris James, a multi instrumental threat and killer vocalist with a solid-as-a-rock demeanor. But it would take another force of nature to get all these Hombres back in a room making music together.
That force of nature would be one Tom Ryan - a fierce drummer, writer, DJ, and general raconteur. Organizing a benefit for a fellow musician under his New York Roots Music Association umbrella, Tom asked the Last Hombres to reunite for a short set, and they in turn asked him to play the drums. After some quick rehearsals the band found themselves on stage together for the first time in eight or so years, and therein begins the next chapter setting the stage for new songs to emerge.
Tom Ryan's newly built home, with its New Orleans inspired architecture, became a workshop/gathering place/rehearsal studio. Dubbed “The Bunker,” it’s authentic southern hospitality and cuisine served up by NOLA native, Heidy Ryan was the perfect place to work out what became a huge backlog of powerful material from these three writers – Russ Seeger, Paul Schmitz and Michael Meehan. Multi-Instrumentalist Chris James offers, "The importance of the Ryan’s home, AKA “The Bunker”, cannot be overstated. This is a very special house. Magic happens here, and I’m not saying that as cliché. I personally know it to be a fact. I, along with many other musicians, view this house as a second home. The comfortable, relaxing space that Tom and Heidy Ryan continuously provide to the Last Hombres proved to be crucial in the development of the material that eventually became Odd Fellows Rest."
They began where they left off, penning literate roots rock, surrealistic alternative country, and dusk colored gypsy outlaw ballads that together form a solid collection of great material. And so they began the process...torch welding the spare parts into a larger whole. Guitarist and violinist Russ Seeger reveals, "We decided to texture the songs a little differently this time, with the New Orleans horns becoming more integrated, along with a more powerful drum and bass experience." Drummer Tom Ryan adds, "Knowing that these guys had already worked extensively with legendary pros – Levon in particular – made it feel like a genuine privilege to play with friends who had the goods, and the experience, to create something special.”
Not wanting to lose the vibe of “the bunker,” the band reconvened at the highly regarded One East Studios in New York City, with Producer Yohei Goto at the helm. The 13-song album was then put in the trusted hands of Scott Hull, veteran Mastering Engineer at MasterDisk, resulting in the aptly named Odd Fellows Rest. Schmitz offers, "What I find odd about the album are the songs written separately over a different period of time by three different writers working in different places, and somehow the songs all speak to each other and answer each other. I think that is collective vision. That's the way this seems to work." Seeger adds, "I think the sound of the finished product far exceeded our initial intention and only got better with each new listen." For Meehan, he celebrates the hopes for the future reflecting, "We would like to find our place among the bands we admire and fans of this music that are still out there - translate the power of the songs and sounds on stage, out among the faithful, so to speak"
As they rise from the ashes, The Last Hombres offer fatalistic Americana that is overflowing with wisdom and insight, following a new muse as their journey continues. Everybody pays a price for the choices they make - or don't make. With both gravitas and humor, as the road twists and turns towards an uncertain future, they continue on their path, knowing full well that the beauty lies not in the destination but in the journey.
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