Our Story ---------

In March of 2016, my brother-in-law Dutch Workman came to Houston for our annual Easter family get-together. These are huge Labrada family events, typically with over 30 of us in attendance celebrating the holiest day of the year for us as Christians.

 

My wife Robin bakes her famous chicken pot pies from scratch. This is something that she’s done for years now – an Easter tradition for us. Easter at the Labrada’s looks like this: Kids running everywhere, a big Easter egg hunt on our sprawling property, and lots of eating, laughter and conversation between multiple generations of our family. I feel blessed with a close, wonderful family.

 

So the day before this annual get together, Dutch was at our home and we struck up a conversation about our love for music. When I say we ‘love music’, we LOVE all kinds of genres. Dutch and I both have a very eclectic taste in music. Before long, we had slipped away to my home recording studio, where my guitar collection covers the walls. I love playing my guitars. As Dutch was admiring the array of instruments, he asked me, “Have you recorded any of your playing?” I responded that indeed I had, and proceeded to select an instrumental track to play for him.

 

I cranked up the volume on my studio monitors and pressed play. Now I’m not claiming to be a guitar hero, but I’ve studied under some of the best, and after many years of practice, I can hold my own with most musicians. My good friend and world-class metal shredder Rusty Cooley, is a long-time guitar mentor who I studied under. I’ve worked hard to hone my chops over the years.

Dutch liked what he heard, and said “Well, you should keep writing your own original music, and we should record it in a professional studio. At least in this way you’ll have something to leave your children to listen to for posterity’s sake. I’ll be glad to play the drums.”

 

“Wow... really?” This was a big deal to me. You see, Dutch is a professional studio drummer, a musician who plays drums for many artists. Not only was I honored that he had volunteered to work with me, but I felt that that Dutch was challenging me to step up and get outside my comfort zone.

I had an epiphany. Deep down inside, I felt that I should do this. My wheels were turning, as I mulled it over. It took about a week for it to sink in, and I still had a lot of doubts and questions, as I’d never done this before. I picked up the phone, called Dutch and said “let’s do it.”

 

“OK, great, what now?” I thought to myself after I got off the call. “I’ve never written a song with lyrics in my life. If we’re going to do this right, I’m going to need someone to coach me along.” My mind immediately went to my good friend and pro musician, Paul Pesco.

 

“It’s going to be a long shot, but I have to ask him if he will help me.” I thought. I had met Paul when he was touring with Hall & Oates. Yes, THAT Hall & Oates. Paul is a big fan of Lean Body, the protein drink that my nutrition company makes, and had looked me up during his Houston tour stop with Hall & Oates. Next thing I knew, we met at my office, and it wasn’t long before we were jamming together on acoustic guitars. The chemistry was undeniable. Paul is an optimistic, upbeat person. We hit it off right away.

 

I later found out that Paul was Madonna’s guitarist for the first eight years of her career, and has backed and played with a literal Who’s Who of top performing artists. Artists like Steve Winwood on a platinum Grammy Award winning album; Jennifer Lopez, Joan Baez, C+C Music Factory, and many others. Paul was both an incredible guitarist and musician, with decades of experience in the recording studio. And I know there’s truth in the old adage: If you want to become the best you can be, surround yourself with the best.

 

“The worst that can happen is that he says no”, I thought to myself. I phoned Paul, and began pouring out the details of the project to him. Paul listened patiently, as I told him about my dream of composing original songs and creating an album. I have to admit that what he heard as excitement in my voice, was actually me racing through my rehearsed monologue, trying to make all the points I wanted him to hear, lest he turn me down, before I got them all out.

 

“Lee, I can tell that you’re passionate about this. I’ll do anything I can to help you... I’m in!”

Wow! Paul was in. This was really going to happen. And now that both Dutch and Paul were in, there was NO WAY that I was going to let these guys down. I had to write material for us to record, and I wanted to do my best to make it sound GREAT. The last thing that I wanted was for my friends, family and fans to listen to the finished album and say, “Nice try, Lee, but stick to bodybuilding!” (Note: in my former career, I was an accomplished professional bodybuilder.)

 

I sat down and started writing the songs for this album, Eternity, in May of 2016. I remember that I was in the beachside community of Seaside, Florida at the time, in a relaxed frame of mind, when inspiration struck me. I thought about the beauty of nature, the awesomeness of God’s grace, and His love for us. The biblical story of the Prodigal Son, came to mind. It’s a story about a wayward son who throws his life and inheritance away, yet finds redemption and forgiveness from his father, when he comes back home. That’s how I came to write our first song, Coming Home.

 

The words literally poured out of me as fast as I could write them. In fact, most of the material you hear on this album came about in the same way, during moments when I felt inspired. I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit somehow moved me to write these words, because now when I go back and read the lyrics and listen to the songs, I can hardly believe that I played a part in bringing them to your ears. God uses us in ways that sometimes surprise us. By November, I had all of the songs for our album written and we were ready to start recording.

 

The album Eternity was recorded in two sessions. The Houston session was recorded at Longhorn Sound Studio in December, under the watchful eye of Paul and two young sound engineers, Matt McChesney and Namath Naif. Kudos to Matt and Namath – they did a great job.

 

On the first day of recording in the studio, it quickly became obvious to me that this wasn’t Paul’s first rodeo. To say that Paul is a talented and gifted musician is a gross understatement. Paul was everywhere: working with the sound engineers until the levels were perfect on all of the instruments and vocals; pulling me aside and dry running through our vocal harmonies; charting out each song; and pushing both Dutch and I on take after take, until the music was as good as we could make it.

 

Dutch, being no stranger to the recording studio himself, dove into his drumming charts, rehearsing and tapping out beats with his sticks on an imaginary drum set on his legs, stopping to make notes, and tapping out more. Dutch is a pro and leaves nothing to chance. Once the drums were miked and Dutch was ready, we recorded his drum tracks first. They were powerful and his timing was tight. Thanks to Dutch we had a great foundation to work with.

 

We recorded the first three songs, then started planning the second recording session. For the finale, we all flew to upstate New York to record at Paul’s studio, MAdMountain Song Recording Studios. Paul and industry veteran Joe Blaney were the sound and mixing engineers. Joe mixed the Grammy Award winning single Rock the Casbah by the Clash, amongst others. It was amazing to watch these two working together. We were also fortunate enough to have a special guest appearance by Corey Glover, former lead singer of the Grammy Award winning rock band, Living Colour. It’s not every day that you have THE Corey Glover share his amazing voice on a song for your album. It was a privilege to sing a duet with Corey on the title track, Eternity.

 

After all of the recording was finished, Paul performed all of the mixing for Eternity at his studio. It was a real eye opener to me to witness the amazing amount of work went into the production of this album. Every song went through at least ten mixing sessions before it reached the mastering stage. It was like watching a musical evolution.

Almost eighteen months later, Eternity was finally finished! We’re proud of Eternity and hope that you will enjoy our music, while reflecting on the message contained in each song. We hope that as you listen it will stir your soul on a spiritual level, inspire you and strengthen you.

 

All the glory to God.– Lee Labrada

 

333 Northpark Central Dr.

Houston, Tx 77073

800.832.9948

info@labradaband.com

© 2018 . Lee Labrada
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