What a difference three hours can make.
While visiting his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, around Thanksgiving 2016, bassist-singer Justin Smith of The Reputations had a family friend set up a meeting with Jody Stephens, the vice president of production at Ardent Studios.
Following a tour of the facility, Smith had something important to say: His Austin, Texas-based band wanted Stephens to produce its second album. When Stephens expressed uncertainty about the proposition, Smith says he left behind two things: his phone number and a copy of Begging for More, The Reputations’ full-length debut (released in early 2017), “thinking I’d never hear from him.”
Stephens called three hours later to say he was interested, “and from there,” Smith says, “it was all logistics and timing” for everyone to get together at Ardent and record what became his band’s follow-up album, Electric Power (Nine Mile Records).
“They have a great feel for rock-based R&B/soul music,” says Stephens, who as the drummer for Big Star recorded at Ardent. “They are a band of great players and powerful singers with an abundance of good ideas and songs I like.”
Smith liked what Stephens brought to the sessions in terms of personality and skill.
“Jody’s biggest strength is his calming quality,” Smith says. “He has an amazing ear for music and sounds, but his ability to make us feel like we were at home made all the difference in the record.”
Even though Electric Power was recorded at Ardent during a seven-day period in June 2017 and mixed and mastered three or four months later, The Reputations kept the album under wraps until this month (it’s due Nov. 9).
“The biggest reason it took so long was because we were trying to find someone to release it,” Smith explains. “We believed in the record and knew that self-releasing wasn’t the way to go, so we sat on it until Nine Mile came along and decided to put it out.”
— By Chris M. Junior
The Reputations on tour (schedule subject to change):
• Nov. 9: Opolis — Norman, Oklahoma
• Nov. 10: Rallgarten — Memphis, Tennessee
• Nov. 11: Foam — St. Louis
• Nov. 14: Ortlieb’s — Philadelphia
• Nov. 15: The Saint — Asbury Park, New Jersey
• Nov. 16: Rockwood Music Hall — New York
• Nov. 20: 5 Spot — Nashville, Tennessee
Photo by Jackson Montgomery Schwartz