Diversions :: Great Lakes on writing Ways of Escape

October 12th sees the release of Great Lakes fourth album, Ways of Escape. Below, founding, and constant, member Ben Crum reflects on the process, and hurdles, it took to get there.   Great Lakes will play a record release show, with the full band that played on Ways of Escape, at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn on October 24th.

"Bands, those funny little plans that never work quite right." — Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev

I'm 36 now, and have been playing music and putting out records for a long time. My band, Great Lakes, began in Athens, Georgia in 1996. A self-titled debut came out in 2000, followed by The Distance Between in 2002 and Diamond Times in 2006. Ways of Escape is the new one, to be released October 12th, 2010, and, in its way, it turned out to be something of a debut for me–which is strange, because I've played on a lot of different records and in many bands over the years.

Great Lakes began based around the songwriting collaboration between me and an old friend and lyricist, Dan Donahue, with whom I'd written songs since we were in high school. We wrote the first three Great Lakes records together, collaboratively–I wrote the music and he wrote the words. In the early days of the band Jamey Huggins, who played with of Montreal for many years and recently released a record under the moniker James Husband, played an important role as a multi-instrumentalist. Counting people that have either played on the records and/or in the live band, I've worked with well over 30 different musicians since Great Lakes began–but the "band," for the last few years, has essentially been just me and whoever is playing with me at any given time. Though I still do some full band shows around New York, these days I prefer to tour with a duo line-up–me on guitar, and a drummer, Kevin Shea, who has been with me for 4 years now. But, though my new record features Kevin on drums and 8 other accomplished and talented musicians playing a variety of instruments, in a sense I'm basically the last man standing, the Great Lake.

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