Long ago in a land far away, also known as the mid-90s San Fernando Valley, Mike Stinson and Johnny Irion lived and wrote songs in an old farmhouse behind a rehearsal studio called The Alley. Already accomplished musicians working as sidemen in other bands, there they studied the elements of songwriting by dissecting the greats and honing their chops into a uniquely cool country-fried-rock sound of their own.
Perhaps it was primitive, but there was something undeniably pleasing about their vocal blend. Augmenting their lineup for club gigs was Mike’s running buddy and day-job partner Andy Butler-Jones, whose prog rock band Bigelf is the stuff of LA legends. A bonafide songwriter of the highest caliber inspired by the sound Mike and Johnny were creating, Andy penned a handful of songs that nailed the band’s vibe and fit wonderfully.
A marriage, a million miles, and the sudden, tragic death of Andy Butler-Jones all conspired to sideline the band. Mike and Johnny kept in touch and now, twenty five years later, they’ve finally made the record they always wanted to make.
Mike and Johnny recorded Working My Way Down to analog tape on Johnny’s Studer in the rolling hills of Berkshire MA — mixed by Johnny’s neighbor Paul Koldiere (Radiohead, Morphine, Hole) and featuring guest appearances by members of Chatham County Line, Social Distortion, and Andy’s longtime Big Elf bandmate Damon Fox who now plays with The Cult.
The musical chemistry they stumbled on years ago has only ripened with age and experience. The vocal blend still has the undeniable power and the combination of Mike’s drumming and Johnny’s guitar playing reveals why they gravitated toward each other in the first place. Behold Working My Way Down, twenty five years in the making and well worth the wait.