Singled Out: Ian Abel Band's California Nights

Keavin Wiggins | 05-17-2024

Singled Out: Ian Abel Band's California Nights

Nashville-based rock outfit Ian Abel Band just released their brand new single "California Nights" and to celebrate we asked frontman Ian to tell us about the track. Here is the story:

I'm a Southern-born, and bred, man. At the age of 23, I packed up all of my belongings: 2 Marshall half stacks, 1 Fender combo amp, 3 electric guitars, 2 acoustic guitars, 1 keyboard, my queen size bed, a mismatched set of dining plates and stolen utensils from my college's food court, my rickety half put together desk, a 30" Samsung tv, 1 blu-ray player, a bakers rack, an arsenal of suits that I never wore again, three tubs of clothes I got rid of, a small carload of dress shoes that I still have and have also never worn again, a nightstand, a music stand and my mini fridge; I was headed West in a black Ford F-150 to sunny Los Angeles, California. The year was 2014 and the back house apartment in Sherman Oaks that I would call home for 2 years, was not big enough.

I wrote "California Nights" with my now longtime friend, drummer, and writing partner, Kenny Schwartz. This song is an embodiment of the fun times I had whilst I lived in Southern California for nearly 7 years. The parties, the trips, the concerts - we played at historic-World famous venues- my time moonlighting as an actor, more parties, nods to the Grateful Dead/Haight Ashbury, and a tip of the cap to ever-evolving sounds of Coachella. This song is presented as a summer party anthem because that was my experience when I was there.

For the musicians out there, I think you'll dig that the third verse is what we call the "bass verse," something I've never heard done before. Kenny and I had a small whiteboard riddled with scribbles as we were trying to figure out the arrangement. We had this rocking third verse, but nothing to say over it. I thought maybe a sax solo, but we aren't the Boss or DMB, not to mention we didn't have a saxophone player, so Kenny suggested maybe the bass guitar take the lead vocal line. It was like "Oh yeah! That's wild, let's do it!" Our bassist at that time, Kevin Perez, nailed it. The last time we played this song out, Karthik Suresh had taken over the bass duty and he absolutely demolished the bass verse as we headlined the World Famous Troubadour. What an epic night. Elisabeth Moss was just causally in the crowd listening.

Kenny was also instrumental (see what I did there?) in getting Jon Graber to record and mix this record. Jon's resume is lengthy, and at that time he was mainly producing punk rock music with the likes of John Feldmann & NoFX, which I think really helped elevate the energy of the track itself. He also added bell sounds and played additional rhythm guitar. Working closely with him taught me a lot, and I carry those lessons with me still today.

I moved back home amidst the pandemic, and now as I sit in Nashville, TN., reflecting on the song, I can't help but ponder. At the time, I wrote the end of "California Nights" as a reminder for the people there to not forget where they came from, however, now that I think about it, I believe that ironically applies to me. "...ready the carpets, you're in the fold, and never forget you were formed from gold."

Did we ever figure out if life is imitating art, or is art imitating life?

Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen and watch for yourself below and learn more about the band here

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