Sinclair Soul is the latest (and final) original rock and roll project of producer, composer and arranger Ric Albano. This project derives from Imaginary Lines (2004-2009), with updated versions of some of the songs released on the 2009 triple-length album Imaginary Lines 33, along with compositions written throughout the 2010s.
Sinclair Soul plays a diverse breath of rock influenced from the classic era with a modern twist. The initial Sinclair Soul album, The Journey, was released digitally on June 26, 2017, with a second album, Reflections of Relevance coming on March 27, 2018. Both of these albums were co-produced by Albano and Bret Alexander, who also plays multiple instruments on the recordings. Rounding out the core of this group is drummer and percussionist Ron Simasek.
The name Sinclair Soul has long been used as an alias by Albano in both music and beyond (Sinclair Soul was previously cited as a “championship-level background singer who has lent his talents to Cygnus Wave artists”}. It was adopted as the official cannon of all of his 21st century music projects in 2013 with a planned phase-out of the use of the title “Imaginary Lines”.
Ric Albano was born and raised in Hazleton, Pa. At an early age he was a big fan of Johnny Cash, saw him for his first concert at the age of five and would mimic him when he got his first guitar at age six. As he reached adolescence, Ric became a dedicated listener of classic rock, especially Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Rush, and The Doors.
In 1984, he purchased his first instrument, an odd hybrid of electric piano and harpsichord and about a year later he joined his first rock band, Running Wild. Together they wrote a handful of original songs that they played at their first gig about a week before high school graduation. About a week after graduation, the band promptly broke up.
Ric got interested in songwriting and recording. He slowly began to acquire musical instruments – electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums and percussive instruments, harmonica – all of which he slowly taught to himself. Using a Fostex 4-track recorder, he developed a makeshift home studio and would ultimately write and record nearly 300 songs under the pseudonym RAREx between 1987 and 1996. Influenced by prog-rock acts such as Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Zebra, and Yes, these songs were experimental, adventurous, and eclectic. Some were quite interesting and some were downright disastrous, but due to the limited, semi-professional recording quality, none of these songs were ever released publicly until the digital-only release of Wahray and Soul in 2011. There were a few of these old songs that would be used as direct influences or templates for Animal Society songs a couple of decades later.
During this analog period, Ric was also involved in several other activities. In 1989 he received former training in audio engineering and briefly worked and recorded in a professional studio in Ohio. Later he would provide live sound for several Pennsylvania bands, including The Badlees, during the period immediately preceding their national breakthrough and large arena tours. Ric was a performing member in series of short-run bands with names such as Onyx, Misery Loves Company, and The Steel Breeze, in which he, at various times, played on guitar, drums, keyboards and/or vocals (ironically, he would not play bass in a band until Animal Society was formed, several years later). He also briefly performed as a solo acoustic act under the name Snake Simpson.
Starting in 1997, Ric took a long hiatus from writing and recording original music to focus on domestic life and working towards a college degree. During school, he subsisted as a disc jockey in Northeast PA under the name Dr. Jones until he received a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Bloomsburg University in 2002. In late 2003 / early 2004 Ric began a project to digitally “refurbish” some of the better RAREx recordings for a possible public release. However, he eventually decided that the best course of action would be to start from scratch with new material.
After relocating to suburban Harrisburg in 2004, Ric started a concept project called Imaginary Lines. He built a new digital home studio to record a demo and chose Saturation Acres studio, owned by Bret Alexander and Paul Smith of The Cellarbirds, for the high-end professional recordings. In 2005, he recorded and released Imaginary Lines I with Alexander on guitars and Ron Simasek on drums. This was followed up with a second release, Imaginary Lines II in 2007. Soon Ric decided to complete the Imaginary Lines project with a super-sized 33-song compilation of everything from the first two albums plus new and unused material. Future band mate, Erik Trabert provided guitars for several songs on this final phase while Simasek remained the primary drummer and Janet Rains of M80 added vocal support. The result, Imaginary Lines 33 was released internationally on September 9, 2009.
During the Imaginary Lines years, Ric developed the independent label Cygnus Wave. In 2008, he co-produced Not One of You by 1980s new-wave band Hormoans, using archived studio recordings that Ric digitally re-mastered and released on the Cygnus Wave label. He also went on some musical tangents, writing material for other potential projects beyond Imaginary Lines. One of these projects was called “Americana on Acid” while another was called “Searching for the Perfect Sunday”. Songs from these projects may be used for a future project.
In late 2008, Ric formed the power trio Animal Society with guitarist Erik Trabert and drummer Matt Roy. Ric provided bass and vocals and wrote or co-wrote much of the band’s original material. In 2010, he produced the band’s debut album Any Atomic Lies, before Animal Society disbanded later that year.
Ric also lent his talent to many charitable functions. When his sister-in-law suffered a massive debilitating stroke in 2007, Ric helped organize Dollars for Diane and was involved in all three benefit concerts, performing solo in one and with Animal Society in another. He also developed a website for this cause with future band mate Matt Roy, which was integral in collecting online donations. In late 2009, Ric and his wife Karyn produced a compilation album using donated songs from some of Pennsylvania’s finest artists. For this project, Ric wrote and produced “Song for Diane” which
was recorded at Saturation Acres by Diane’s cousin PJ Heckman.
The analog recording process has all gone the way of the horse and buggy, so it may be a good time to reflect back on this recently past age. With this realization, producer Ric Albano has decided to finally release the many semi-professional, analog recordings he made close to a quarter century ago with The Evolution of Noise, 1987-1995 by Wahray and Soul.
These recordings of original songs were all made in an attic “studio”, on a Fostex 4-track cassette recorder. There is alot of trial and error, experimentation, and development of technical proficiancy along the way.
Animal Society was formed in October 2008 by Matt Roy, Erik Trabert, and Ric Albano. Matt and Ric had been jamming together for several months with Matt on drums and Ric on keyboards, but soon found this arrangement was very limited in potential and scope. So Erik, a co-worker, was asked to come to one of their “jam” sessions to see if they could come with anything interesting. They did and the band was born.
The name Animal Society stemmed from an argument between Ric and Matt over whether, in fact, animals (non-human) could actually form a society. Although the argument was never settled, the name stuck.
In those earliest days, the band worked on covers from such classic rock staples as Led Zeppelin, The Who, Rush, The Kinks, The Animals, and Pink Floyd, as they were each big fans of this genre. On the flip side, the band also played covers of more non-conventional acts such as Widespread Panic, Cheap Trick, Men at Work, The White Stripes, and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. This reflected the deep diversity within band that would grow over time to make Animal Society a very unique and interesting group.
This diversity is present on several different levels within the band. In musical background, Erik and Matt had a bit of structured and formal training, while Ric is nearly 100% self-taught. In age, there is now currently a member of the band in his twenties, his thirties, and his forties. And then there’s politics – Ric is fairly conservative, while Matt is fairly liberal, and Erik, well, he believes that politics itself is an evil concept planted in our minds by a sinister galactic overlord.
With this diverse selection of cover songs and the difficult vocals styles of favored bands such as Rush and Zeppelin, the band sought a fourth potential member to provide lead vocals as well as additional instrumentation. But, as time went by, no one suitable for these duties was found and the band eventually decided to continue as a trio, which meant cutting back on some of the more ambitious covers.
Also, after several months of working on covers, the band decided to start working on originals. The first of these were some adaptations of Imaginary Lines songs, such as “Tommy’s Got a Gun”, as Ric was still working on that project through 2008 and 2009. Eventually, though, it was agreed among the band that they would find their own distinct sound for Animal Society and develop exclusive originals. This process was slow at first, as each member came in with ideas, hooks, riffs, and, beats and matching these together into a cohesive composition was initially difficult.
In June, 2009, the band completed its first song, “California”, built from a bass/drum riff by Ric and Matt, a chorus by Erik, a mid-section anchored by Matt’s frantic drumbeat and Erik’s psychedelic-surf guitar lead, and lyrics by Ric. It was a true collaboration that was interesting and unique and a preview of many other Animal Society songs that were composed in 2009 and 2010.
Animal Society’s first public performance was on July 18, 2009 in Zion Grove, PA at a graduation party for Ric’s eldest son. The gig consisted of two sets made mostly of cover songs along with “California” and a few original “jams”. At the request of Ric, the band rehearsed and performed several songs just for this special occasion, including songs by Oasis, Stealers Wheel, and The Doors.
Later that summer, on August 22nd, the band played the “No Regrets” benefit at Gullifty’s Underground in Camp Hill, Pa. This would prove to be the first of several benefit shows that the band would donate their talents to, including Dollars for Diane 33 in Wilkes-Barre, Pa in January, 2010 and Sound Off for Vets in Harrisburg, Pa. in June, 2010.
After composing new material through much of the winter (2009-10), the band went to Saturation Acres recording studio on the first day of spring, March 20, 2010, to record their debut album with legendary music man, Bret Alexander. In a single, exhausting day, the band recorded ten original songs from scratch, nine of which would be included on the Animal Society’s debut album, Any Atomic Lies.
Originally scheduled to be released in the Fall of 2010, internal disagreements ensued and the project was halted before publication and Animal Society disbanded in late 2010. Cygnus Wave published the mixes of the songs as they were in December 2010, presented as the eponymous album Animal Society. This album contains a diverse selection of truly original songs that cross the boundaries from rock to pop to folk to country to jazz to funk to some things that are just not easily categorized.
An authentic “new wave” band from the early 1980s, Hormoans offered cutting edge, original material to Central PA at a time when most acts where strictly cover. This approach brought them a respectable measure of success, including several gigs in legendary venues such as CBGB’s in New York City.
In December, 1981, the band recorded a few dozen tracks made up of their original compositions along with original “translations” of some standard material. Unfortunately, the band broke up soon thereafter and these recordings remained “lost” for over a quarter century. Finally in 2008, these recordings were remastered and produced to form the Cygnus Wave album Not One of You. This 13-track release preserves the energy and Hormoans sound for the future.