Ben Smith, Liv Wafrield, Chris Joyner, Nancy Wilson, Ryan Waters, and Dan Rothchild

Recently I was invited by Nancy Wilson of Heart to join her and Liv Warfield in a new band.  “Roadcase” is the name, with my extremely talented bandmates Ryan Waters, Dan Rothchild, and Chris Joyner.

Having worked with Ann and Nancy Wilson for quite a while, I am very glad to be invited, and have high hopes for our new musical family.  I thought I’d put down some thoughts about our rehearsal, recording and writing process.


We started getting together in November to rehearse.  Whenever I work with a new project, I have questions like :  What will our chemistry be like?  How will the songs come out?  Who’s doing the writing?  How soon can we record?

We started around 1pm or so, after Matt Sabin and Ed Mendoza got everything set up, turned on, and wired up. From the minute I walked in the door, I was happy and pleased by the focus and friendliness that we generated that day.  We needed to communicate our audio needs to Matt and guitar choices to Ed, and decide what kind of sounds to go for.   We had little conversations with different combinations of us, then started working on a song, and I knew the communication was there.

Over that week in rehearsal, we put together 9 tunes to develop.  Some original songs and some cool covers.  The important thing in rehearsals is to be open to trying different things, to talk about what’s working and what isn’t, and to give everyone full respect for their input and ideas.  Our rehearsals have taken that ethic, and built on it.

It was clear, after being with each other for a few days, that our band could work, both musically and interpersonally.  We laughed, we questioned each other about parts and arrangements, we got intense about what worked and what didn’t, and it all came together.  The big question was, could we be a band together and make great music happen?  That week proved we could.

It was only a few days after the first rehearsals that we booked another week with each other, and refined the songs more, exploring how big and how intimate the sound of the band could be.  On the break, we put together some new song ideas, and brought them to the next rehearsals.   We put together our coolest tunes, and made plans to go into the recording studio.

I have done lots of fun recording, and a few not so fun recordings.  The difference is always the chemistry of the musicians, the quality of the music and sound of the studio.  We decided to go into JJ Blair’s place in Los Angeles.  JJ is a talented musician, engineer, producer, and writer who a couple of our guys have had lots of experience with.  He has a wonderful studio with the best mics, tons of experience working with signed and unsigned acts, and great live room, and control rooms.

Matt and Ed got us set up and dialed in the sounds, then we took the arrangements we worked out in rehearsal and developed them.  The flexibility and willingness to find what works is so important in recording.  Some songs work well straight out of rehearsal, some need some editing and re-arrangement.  The people in the band have so much collective experience that we got to the simplest, clearest versions of the songs that we could without spending a lot of time doing it.  That is another indication of great chemistry and consideration of each other’s ideas.

In five days we recorded 99% of the parts we needed on 6 songs.  Very fast and yet we didn’t sacrifice quality or consideration on any of the songs.

I can truly say that I’m super excited about our songs and our band!!  I look forward to seeing the feedback music fans have for these tunes, and can’t wait to get this band out working!  It’ll be a killer act live, with real musicians playing real instruments, and kicking ass.

Please Join Us!!  Look for more info on Roadcase very soon.

If anyone has questions for me about this project, please contact me at!