“We were gonna be big, big stars…”
Summer, 1999. Mike Patton’s band at the time was called Park Bench, and they set up a show for my high school band The Pendletones. It was a stuffy June night in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and while the crowd was thin, there was an abundance of melodies and harmonies like I had never before witnessed in real life. We had never heard the term Power Pop, but we both worshiped The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and Weezer, so we became fast friends.
The first record I ever produced was an EP for Mike’s band The Robinsons in 2001. It was done with no budget and recorded in my parents’ dining room, but we had a fantastic time hanging out and listening to pop punk bands like The Travoltas, The Queers, and The Mr. T. Experience. The songwriters of these bands all possessed the gift of melody, a rare talent that sets them apart from others in their genre. When I heard Mike’s song, “Rev It Up” for the first time, I knew he shared that gift as well.
Several bands and one category 5 hurricane later, Mike was living in Nashville and we were making music again with our group the Loblaws. Sharing the stage with the three Patton brothers was a thrill for me, and the music we made brings back amazing memories. “Tossing And Turning” is one of the best pop punk songs I’ve ever heard. Great melodies, harmonies, and huge fuzzy guitars. What more could you want?
“Let’s do something that we’ve never done before…”
I know how much they love Big Star, so for Mike’s latest group, Vista Blue, to get the chance to record this new single at Ardent Studios in Memphis was a huge deal. “Summer Wonderland” dates back to 2003, and I can still remember seeing Sally Stitches perform it for the first time. It sounds like it could be a lost Bruce and Terry track from 1964, amazing layers of harmonies, a huge chorus, and clever lyrics. Absolutely an essential for cruising with your girl, no matter the season.
“Big Stars,” a not so subtle nod to Ardent Studios' most famous clients, also pays tribute to Mike’s DIY values that brought him to this point. It also features some fantastic soaring harmonies from Perry Leenhouts of the Travoltas. A brilliant collaboration.
“Three Chord City” is a great track by an early '80s New Orleans group called The Cold. Equal parts The Hondells and The Ramones, this track is a perfect blend of the styles that make Vista Blue so much fun to listen to.
I couldn’t be prouder to know these guys and to be a small part of a fantastic musical journey. The gift of melody lives on, and I’m thankful.
- Wyatt Funderburk
released December 19, 2019
Order vinyl here: radiantradish.storenvy.com
Summer Wonderland (M. Patton/R. Bates)
Three Chord City (V. Degeneres/K. Radecker)
Big Stars (M. Patton)
Recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis in July 2019. Engineered by Mike Wilson. Mixed/mastered by Perry Leenhouts of Point Break Sound.
Cover photo by Chuck Billiot
Layout design by Matthew Ostrom
Richard Bates - guitar, vocals
Reese Chism - drums, vocals
Mark Crowley - bass, vocals
Mike Patton - vocals, guitar, organ
Also: Perry Leenhouts - vocals, tambourine
Thanks to all of our kickstarter backers! This project could not have happened without you!
Alex Retro, the Creative Fund, BigEd45, Rick Warhall, Wyatt and Mandy Funderburk, Rusty Spell, Mick Fletcher, Boyd Stubblefield, John Sheets, Chris Wilson, Jonathan Bell, Amanda Pickering, Drew Miranda, Brett McChristy, Doug Clubok, Jinger Roy, Matthew H., John Sims-Jones, Ryan McLaughlin, Gerald Neyland, Allison Sambola, Andy Miller, Chuck Billiot, Erica Husosky, Mike Bodayle, Dean, Lerussard, Allen, Chad Shields, Mark Chow, hopman315, Vance DeGeneres, arrscott, Matthew Collier, Matt Drastic, Eric Johnson, Marc Wall, Rita Crowley, Patti Crowley, Jerry, and Patrick McVay!