The Beginning: From Loudermilk to Surreel
Reed Young was an original songwriter/drummer for the Memphis based post- grunge band, Loudermilk. The band auditioned for a record deal with Beale Street Music Group & 315 Beale Studios. The audition went well in a way, as the company offered Reed a deal only for him & his songs. It was a very conflicting time for him as these were his best friends as well. A disagreement with one band members made it easier as he did not want Reed to play solo shows & presented him with an ultimatum- stop playing solo shows or you are out of the band. Reed decided to sign the record deal & move on to develop his songwriting ability & also put to the test his other musical abilities, essentially a one-man band called SURREEL.
In the Studio: Recording The First Album
He recorded some at the original Daisy Theatre on Beale Street, at Ardent Studios, & also in his home studio, which was important to him, because he loved the acoustic sound of the tall ceilings & hard wood floors which helped him to have a unique live sound on his first album called “Blanket”. Reed decided to write all the music, sing, & play all of the instruments himself in the same vane as some of his favorite artists (Trent Reznor, Prince, Dave Grohl). This method was also quicker. The responses were favorable from friends, other bands/musicians, & critics – including being named one of the Best Records of The Year by Chris Herrington of The Memphis Flyer.
The Move: Memphis to Nashville to Memphis
About the same time of Blanket’s release, the record company unfortunately closed as the owners divorced, which tied Reed up legally for a while. He needed a break & moved to Nashville where he was offered another record deal but being in Nashville, they wanted to develop him as a country solo act, which in his words “would be awful- I cannot sing country, & my music is mostly rock”. There was an attempt to just sell the songs & get a country singer to do them, but no agreement could be made with that option, they only wanted him if he was the artist. He knew that would not work, so he moved back to Memphis & it was time to form a band to front & play live with his Jimmy Page/Dave Navarro influenced style of guitar playing & Robert Plant/Perry Ferrell wannabe singing style.
Hit The Stage: The First Surreel Shows & Reactions
The first show was at The original Memphis famed Hi Tone, which was a competition that they advanced through a few rounds. More shows went well & one of the “Blanket” tracks Signs Scorned was selected for a Memphis music compilation called Memphis Music Today Vol.1. He also started drumming for a band called Broken which later on became Breaking Point but musical differences & bass player leaving shifted his focus to just Surreel.
Dream Brother: Reed meets Jeff Buckley
During an interview with Michael Donahue of The Commercial Appeal, the Jeff Buckley dedication on Blanket was asked about. Reed was one of the last people to speak to Jeff before he tragically drowned in the Wolf River in downtown Memphis. Reed had been going to see Jeff play at Barristers weekly on Monday nights. Jeff was also recording demos for next album with Doug Easley, whom recorded Loudermilk’s first album “Swelter”. The Easley sessions ended up becoming his last recordings “My Sweetheart The Drunk”. Already a huge influence on Reed musically, Jeff was also helping him as it was the same time that Reed first got signed & Jeff was telling him to be “guarded & protect his songs for creative control at all costs”. One Blanket track called Eye, the lyrics are the last conversation he had with Jeff which ended with “See you Monday night (Reed), unless you got somewhere to go.” A couple of days later, Jeff drowned. This really affected Reed in many ways, in his words- “He was the sweetest soul I ever met. He was so giving- entered my life for a brief time, & as we became friends – made plans etc… he was gone. Still haunts me. It was surreal. If he did not leave all of his amazing music behind, it would have been harder to deal, although it was a few months before I could listen to either Grace or Sine.” Reed dedicated Blanket to Jeff, & decided to do that for all Surreel albums.
UGLY/Order 66: Enter Jim Boyd
Reed wanted a break from writing & singing – he just wanted to play drums again. One of his best friends & former Loudermilk guitarist/songwriter Keith Schexnayder had a heavy band called UGLY with Nine Dayz Wonder front man Jed McQuown that needed a drummer, so he jumped at the chance to play again with Keith. They changed the name to Order 66, & started writing & playing some shows. The bass player was a guitar player/songwriter that had moved from Northern California- Sacramento named Jim Boyd. Jim had played most notably in the punk band Slander that was featured in Maximum Rock’n’Roll magazine for “Norcal” punk rock bands. He started in a band with front man Ray Letoile in grunge era rock band called the Carnies. The Carnies disbanded and with new members transitioned into Early Grayce- a hard rock band that left its alt roots for a straight forward hard rock sound. Boyd and Letoile regrouped with two new members to create a band with a totally new look and sound called Arts Missing Finger, & they were recognized all over Sacramento as a completely versatile band. They received praise for their style to be able to play acoustic, alternative to even hard rock.
Movie Songs: Surreel + 1
When Order 66 was disbanding, Jim & Reed had become good friends, had similar influences & writing styles, plus still had the desire to perform live. Reed decided to break his mold for writing & playing everything in Surreel & continue with Jim as a partner in crime. In the first session, Reed had an intro he played Jim that he wrote while waiting for him to get there & Jim said “It’s a movie song.” Reed immediately loved that description. Writing was fun, easy, & relaxed as well. The two also started learning each other’s already developed pieces of music. They practiced for a few months with a mixture of interchanging drummers/bass players that were also friends & scheduled first show opening for a great band – Fuel in Memphis. Soon after they played a few more shows & took that momentum into the studio.
We’re Rolling: Ardent Studios & Beyond
Reed enlisted his favorite recording engineer Jason Latshaw at his favorite recording studio Ardent. They set up the drums/guitars & knocked out all the basic tracks. They also had a couple of the Loudermilk boys to record a track called Open This Door with Keith on guitar, & Greg Edmondson on Bass. Reed likes to record the vocals & all the other parts in private at home, & at Jim’s they also recorded some additional guitars. Jason mixed & mastered & it was done! They scheduled the CD release for the hard Rock- Memphis on Beale Street – back where Surreel originated.