March 26 2009 12:00 AM

A survey of lansing’s musical landscape


At the crossroads Twang band amps up sound with Kid Rocks producer

It’s been a long, dusty passage for Lansing’s Dirt Road Logic, a band that has perfected the art of writing smart songs about simple, small town things.

With influences like Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, the band’s back catalog of tunes would nicely complement a lonely night of drinking and feeling blue.

However, after multiple lineup changes, countless shows and more than a year in the studio, the band has abandoned its country edge and sold its soul to rock‘n’roll.

Dirt Road Logic’s boisterous new sophomore record, aptly titled “The Rock’n’Roll EP,” shows the group’s progression from twangy cowboys to riff heavy, outlaw rockers.

This Friday, the band will unveil its new sound with a record release show at Lansing’s Mac’s Bar.

Perhaps the band’s increasingly rowdy live shows helped nudge the members in a new direction. “We wanted to do something a little more revved up. It just took us a while,” said guitarist, Paul Delamater. “We had to stumble through alt-country before we got to rock’n’roll.”

Whereas the band’s debut CD, “Great Lake Heartache” (2006) featured longer, bittersweet songs and lighter melodies, the new EP is a distorted, amped-up testament to American rock. “This album has no ballads, no slow songs on it, not really any twang on it,” Delamater said.

The EP bears a latter-day Kid Rock vibe, likely because Rock’s longtime producer, Al Sutton, produced and engineered the EP at Rust Belt Studios in Royal Oak. Delamater said working with a multi-platinum producer took some adjustment. “It requires a little bit of surrender,” he explained. “You come in to the studio with these songs you’ve been working on for five months, you start playing and Sutton’s like, ‘You can’t play here, you have to change this part. This whole section probably needs to be omitted.’ It’s like, ‘Whew!’”

The result: a polished batch of compact, relentless tunes.

Lead singer and guitarist Eric Kelly wrote six of the seven cuts on the album. “It’s definitely American rock‘n’roll,” Kelly said. “It’s got a Springsteen, Bob Seger kind of vibe.”

Delamater and Kelly are the only two original members still with the band, sticking it out as former members moved away or just didn’t work out. Not that they don’t have their disagreements. “We’re like 5-year-old brothers. It’s ridiculous,” Kelly said with a laugh. “Some days are great, other days we can’t do anything because we’re about to get into a fist fight.”

Kelly said he thrives off the pair’s sometimes-hostile songwriting process. “I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” he explained. “I don’t think I can work with someone who doesn’t have as strong of an opinion as me or everything would be too easy. You’ve got to suffer if you want to sing the blues.”

The band, which also includes drummer Kevin Schmitt and bassist Paul Andrew Ulysses Lamb, is notorious for exciting performances. “It’s a show. It’s something to watch and listen to,” Delamater said. “We have fun on stage. We love what we’re doing. Even though sometimes the music is a little dark and heavy, we have fun and it creates a good atmosphere.”

Delamater said the audience often partakes in the fun. “We talk to some bar owners and they say, ‘Man, you guys only had 75 people here tonight, but I sold more alcohol than nights where I have 200 people come through the door,’” he said, grinning as he delivered the punch line: “I tell ‘em, ‘That’s our crowd!’”

Rock N Roll EP Release show @ Mac’s Bar, March 20. 9 p.m., $7, 18 w/ Beggars (Detroit), Brandon Calhoon (Detroit), and Hucklebone (Lansing).