Writing and Recording American Romantic Music with Brian Cremins

american romantic music album cover

Just this past week, my band, the Felus Cremins Band, released our latest album. It’s called American Romantic Music, and you can stream it right here, or check it out on our Bandcamp page.

To mark the occasion, I asked my bandmate and partner Brian Cremins to join me to chat specifically about the making of the title track, the song “American Romantic Music.”

Rather than slogging through a whole boring track-by-track rundown of the entire album, I thought it might be instructive to focus just on this one song. I think the process by which it came to be written and recorded is particularly illustrative of the way that we collaborate.

In addition to our chat, you’ll also get to hear how the song progressed from its first demo to its first live performance to the final recorded version that’s the heart of the new album.

Many of you will be familiar with Brian’s work as a writer and scholar, but he is equally insightful about listening to, writing, and playing music. So I really think you’re going to be delighted by our conversation here.

Brian first started playing guitar when he was 16, and he joined his first bands while attending Dartmouth College in the ’90s. Some of the most memorable of these bands were The Frost Heaves, Hamlet Machine, and Wonderland Accident.

While in grad school at the University of Connecticut, he played guitar and sang in the rock trio The Confessors. They played all over the East Coast at notable venues including CBGBs, TT the Bear’s, and Toad’s Place, and lots of other clubs that have been turned into parking lots since then.

In Chicago, he’s played with and written songs for the bands Ten Hundred, Short Punks in Love, Tiny Magnets, and Pet Theories.

Though primarily self-taught, Brian has been studying jazz guitar with John Moulder for the past four years, and is currently also learning to play the oud.

(You can stream our chat via the embed here, on Anchor, or pretty much anywhere else you source your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and Google Podcasts.)


Our producer, Rosie the cat.

The garage that I got towed to was Marvin’s Auto Service. At the time, they were located on Belmont Avenue, just off Ravenwood. They’re currently located at 3020 West Irving Park.

The track listing for the mix CD I received from Marvin’s Auto Service is as follows; you can stream my re-creation of the mix on Mixcloud:

  1. “Who’ll Stop the Rain”–Creedence Clearwater Revival
  2. “More than a Woman”–Bee Gees
  3. “I Started a Joke”–Bee Gees
  4. “Crimson and Clover”–Tommy James and the Shondells
  5. “How Deep Is Your Love”–Bee Gees
  6. “A Horse with No Name”–America
  7. “We Belong Together”–Ritche Valens
  8. “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”–Chicago
  9. “Night Fever”–Bee Gees

My blog post from April 2018 telling the story of my car breakdown and getting towed to Marvin’s can be read by clicking here.

The Sherry Theater is located at 11052 Magnolia Blvd in North Hollywood, California.

Our show at the Sherry Theater happened on January 4, 2019. You can watch footage from the show on YouTube here

You can explore the show notes and listen to my interview with artist Gene Kannenberg Jr. here

Brian’s homage to Jack Smith’s Yolanda la Pinguina.

Find out more about Tris Carpenter at his website Duke Plays Bass.

You can stream and/or purchase Music for Qodèxx on Bandcamp here. Or, read my “Qodèxx Recording Diary” behind-the-scenes blog post here.

You can see Amara Leipzig’s illustrated stage backdrop in the photograph here. Find out more about Leipzig’s current creative practice by visiting Forgotten Hand Studio.

The Confessors’ MySpace page is, incredibly, still available online here. You can see a photo of them playing CBGB here.

Lawrence Kim most recently played with the band Scam Avenue.

You can listen to some of the old Tiny Magnets material on Soundcloud here. (The theme song to I’ll Follow You, “The Boy in the Pink Shirt,” is a Tiny Magnets song written by Brian!)

The self-titled Pet Theories album is available on Bandcamp here.

Listen to the song “Hall Street” on Bandcamp.

The store where Karen Carpenter supposedly took some of her early drum lessons is Banko’s in Ansonia, Connecticut.

Listen to the song “Dear Mr. Strummer” on Bandcamp. 

Listen to the song “King of New Britain” on Bandcamp. 

Jeff Buckley asking for “Jim Morrison reverb.”

Find out more about the jazz guitarist John Moulder on his own website here.

The Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork pedal that Moulder uses.

The Digitech Whammy Pedal that Brian uses.

The Minitmoog.

Weather Report, “Birdland.”

The Uncut Gems original motion picture soundtrack by Daniel Lopatin.

Read more about Wendy Carlos on her website here.

Here’s a version of John Moulder playing “Autumn Leaves” (but without the Pitch Fork pedal).

Natalie Imbruglia, “Torn.”

About Lou Reed and John Cale’s album Songs for Drella. One of Brian’s favorite songs from the album is “Open House.” 

Our show at the L’arc en Ciel Theatre Groups at Great Oaks Banquet Hall in Cedar Lake, Indiana happened on Saturday, May 18, 2019. You can watch footage from the show on YouTube here. 

Kevin Henretta is the mastermind behind Henretta Engineering and currently plays in the band Ringout! 

Scam Avenue’s video for their song “Jailbird.”

Click here to stream and/or download the new Felus Cremins Band album American Romantic Music