Geoff Dale is a gregarious gadabout. This is a character with little sleep in his background — or foreground for that matter. The man fronts two bands and brews beer. Along with his latest band, Mrs. HD, Dale leads the nine-piece jam band Extended Family and acts as one of the heads at Three Heads Brewery.
After two and a half years roaming the scene, Mrs. HD just released its first CD, "Analog." The album marks a bit of a departure from Extended Family's harmonious happy hippy jump and jam. There's more rock drive and clench. It's more concise. It's more raw and spacious.
"I've got a lot of Pink Floyd in my background," Dale says while explaining the band's mixture of poignant jam and melodic psychedelia.
It's what Dale wanted out of prospective band members. So after some social criteria got nailed down, he and producer Matt Ramerman put their heads together.
"We started kicking around the idea of starting a band with a bunch of dudes we'd wanna hang around with," Dale says. "Not with the preconceived notions; not with the push for playing lots of shows — no delusions of this becoming something massive. This is almost like the anti-band where our goal was to play as few shows as possible, but make them fun."
When the dust settled, Dale found himself with a six-man all-star lineup consisting of his own bad self, Ramerman, guitarist Sam Snyder, bassist Chris Meeker, keyboardist Charlie Lindner, and guitarist Rick Holland. The next step was assembling this assemblage in the studio, which meant juggling half a dozen schedules. The limited time actually helped shape Mrs. HD's overall sound and presence. They blocked off little chunks of studio time at a time and started chipping away.
"I'd come in and show them two songs," Dale says. "We'd play each, like, three times, record it, and that was about it. It was one of those things where I wanted a looseness to the album. I think it comes through. Five out of the seven tunes were my scratch guitar tracks. At times things can sound too processed. I wanted this to sound like you just walked in the room and heard us live."
Dale says he was centered on the beauty and honesty of human imperfection.
"You listen to those old Zeppelin records," he says, "and you hear Jimmy Page make mistakes. That's what I was shooting for. Calling it 'Analog' was kind of tongue-in-cheek; though it was processed, we wanted it to take a step back at times and make it raw."
As the principal songwriter in both Mrs. HD and Extended Family, Dale has the benefit of two avenues to travel with his compositions. The more complex ones get sent to Extended Family while Mrs. HD picks up the simpler, more straight-ahead material.
"With Extended Family having nine people, it's almost like writing for an orchestra," Dale says. Mrs. HD doesn't "need that level of music just because it was made to be a little bit sparser and a little more intimate." There's room to boogie.
Ultimately the sound is less dense yet bigger along with some naturally occurring psychedelia. The band leans toward simplicity in approach and infinity in tone. It's a push-pull dichotomy of sound and structure. Some of these songs could have been handled by Extended Family but Dale says they need to breathe easy.
Which leads us to the band onstage in an assortment of costumes, from plush to "A Clockwork Orange" characters. It's quite the spectacle, which originated from the band's second ever show on Halloween. Dale found it therapeutic and in keeping with Mrs. HD's aesthetic. The costumes are now a permanent aspect to the band's show.
"We played so free and loose," he says. "Now it distracts us so we don't worry so much about playing. In life I think we get into trouble when we over-think. You can't force it. Just let it flow. That's all I try to do man. I'm just a passenger."