Music Athlete

"Music athlete" Mitch Alden releases his first solo album

by alec kerr, the conway daily sun, 01.07.11

"I call myself a music athlete," Mitch Alden, of the band NOW is NOW, said. Alden, a full-time musician from Limington, ME who frequently performs throughout the valley at such venues as White Mountain Cider Co, Tuckerman Tavern, and the Red Parka Pub, is also a long-distance runner who believes the running is making him a better musician. "It really does help the singing. I've noticed my voice is getting better, my ability to play longer sets is increasing, and my ability to resonate with my voice is stronger, " Alden said.

Alden is releasing his frist solo album, "Old Habits," this month. The album was recorded in Chicago with the help of his friend, Matthew Hennessy, a music engineer, in Ocotober. Alden also wanted to run the Chicago Marathon, so logically, why not do both? He underestimated how daunting each task is separately, let alone back to back. "It was funny, I got out there and I totally forgot what making a record was like since it was four years since I had, and I realized it was a lot harder than I remembered," Alden said.

Alden arrived in Chicago Oct. 4, recorded right up until Oct. 9, and ran the marathon Oct. 10. "You are doing 10-hour days in the studio where you arrive at 10," Alden said. "The fast food starts coming at 2, and it's so hard to avoid it, and then find yourself eating dinner at a pub at 9 o'clock at night. Not really the way you want to rest up to run 26.2 miles." He finished the last day of recording and showed up at the start line a bit tired, but still gave it his all during the race. "I didn't run the best race that I've ever run; I blame it on several factors, including my recording and being exhausted, plus the unexpected heat," Alden said. "It was definitely my strongest race considering all that I did, but I wound up making what I think is a really strong record."

With this new album, Alden, who plays more than 200 shows a year, 75 percent of which are solo acoustic, wanted an album that better represented these solo performances. "A bunch of folks come up to me during my set and are like, 'Which of these three NOW is NOW CDs sounds like what I'm hearing?' and my response is 'Well, there's a little bit on all of them,'" Alden said. "I wanted something more where the majority of the record is what you are hearing solo."

Alden is the creative force behind NOW is NOW, a rock band with '90s alternative flavoring. Alden's solo album won't be a drastic departure for the fans of the band. "NOW is NOW should be called the Mitch Alden Band, but I'm not pretentious enough to call myself that! Additional, I wanted my band to have more of a statement name," Alden said. The biggest difference with this album, the first Alden has self produced, isn't so much in content, but how it was recorded. "I wanted the songs to develop more from an acoustic guitar singer/songwriter perspective and then layer on top of these tracks rather than the other tunes where you get the rhythm tracks down first and then layer on top of those," Alden said. "It definitely has a different vibe to it." This solo album doesn't mean he has forsaken his band, though. "I still love the band and still play with the band," Alden said. "There are actually three tunes on this new record with the band, which are consistent with the other records."

With this new album in hand, Alden plans to continue to do what he has been doing: performing as much as he can and getting his music out there. "I threw the ego out a long time ago," Alden said. "I am just like a bartender or part of the wait staff. I'm helping folks out, I'm making the venue money, and creating a cool environment. If I do this, the venue will ask me back again and again and I'll never have to sit in a cubicle again. And while I'm at it I'm going to make records, sell records, and make people happy. It is a really nice thing I've got happening."

alec kerr is music correspondent for the conway daily sun.