One day in the foot hills of the Sangre De Christo Mountains, while living in an adobe house on a dirt road, contemplating the New Mexican star-filled sky and nursing a broken heart, Alec Berlin noticed a crack in the Universe. Slowly but surely, over the next days and weeks, the crack expanded, eventually draining out all of the light until all was darkness.
Many years later, jogging across the Brooklyn Bridge, the Universe awash in the kind of luminescence his younger Santa Fean self couldn't have dreamed of, he found himself accompanied by songbirds.
Wouldn't you write it down?
That's what Alec did. Drawing on influences as varied as Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, The Fugitive, the deserts of the American Southwest and the Middle East, and the great rock and roll songwriting traditions from both sides of the Atlantic, Alec Berlin makes music filled with the joy and wonder of existence.
A native Clevelander who now calls Brooklyn home, Alec honed his skills first at the New England Conservatory, where he earned a Master's of Music. Subsequent tenures as a gun-for-hire in the downtown Jazz world as well as untold numbers of rock bands and singer-songwriter gigs (he has shared the stage with Elton John, James Taylor, Green Day, Rob Thomas, Rufus Wainwright, and Ben Folds) provided a different kind of education - grittier, based in the street.
Streets come and streets go, but for the better part of the last decade one street in particular sees Alec in high demand – Broadway. Most recently as guitarist for the Green Day's American Idiot, Alec took the show from the record-smashing run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California to the Tony-winning year at the St. James Theater in New York. Along the way, he contributed guitar parts to the Grammy Award-winning Original Cast Recording (his second brush with the Grammys - his first was for 2010's A Colbert Christmas) and was seen on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Jimmy Fallon Show, Good Morning America, and the Tony Awards live from Radio City Music Hall.
Alec's songwriting evokes Elvis Costello, XTC, and the Beatles. Spanning the stylistic spectrum from the pop-punk energy of "Get Dirty" to the lazy, comfortable swing of "Still", with stops along the way at the apocalyptic ("Washed Away"), reflective ("Henry at Home"), soulful ("I Want it Done") and groovy ("Bury Your Head"), each song is a story-telling opportunity fulfilled.
With "Innocent Explanations", Alec presents his most exciting work yet - a 13-track volume that was road-tested extensively in various venues throughout New York City. Bringing together such luminaries as drummer Brian Wolfe (Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond), cellist Dave Eggar (Sheryl Crow, Coldplay, Pearl Jam), drummer Shannon Ford (Danny Gatton), and bassist Skip Ward (Steve Martin), "Innocent Explanations" blows the roof off of the songwriting territory staked out on Alec's 2007 release "Beauty, Grazing at the Trough". Mixed by Chris Dugan (American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown) at Green Day's Jingletown Studios, "Innocent Explanations" engages the listener from the very first – you'll be singing along during your first listen, all the while anticipating listening again and again.
The first single from "Innocent Explanations" is "Thunder Without Rain". Check it out:
For the technically-minded people out there, that's Excello's groovy Farfisa at 2:09, and an early 1960's Martin nylon-string guitar (pic) in the verses, courtesy Liz Swados.
"Henry at Home" is one of my favorite songs on "Innocent Explanations". I wrote the music in 2004, but the words didn't come until 2007. The great Dave Eggar and Chuck Palmer arranged the strings/woodwinds accompaniment with me. Here they are recording it at Excello.
Here's a goofy track I made at home a number of years ago, teaching myself how to use various sequencing software.