Georgia hard rock outfit The CEO’s debut album, Redemption, is finally here via Rat Pak Records (order here). The group consists of founder/vocalist Mack Mullins, Sevendust bassist Vince Hornsby, guitarists Chase Brown and Beau Anderson, and drummer Joseph Herman. We caught up with Mullins to learn more about the project and their first record, which officially arrived on June 25th.
You guys were about to make an official announcement right before the world came to a halt. How has this journey been like for you trying to introduce a new project during a pandemic?
Relative to other established acts, it didn’t do much beyond the inconvenience of having to shelve the album and wait our turn. Completely understandable given that we wouldn’t have been able to go out and support the album anyway. So the label and we agreed to shelve it and get the timing right. We took that time to continue writing and trying to build a following where and how we could. We did release a video for the song “Redemption” for about two weeks and had to claw that back and shoot another video later in the year for the same song. But all things considered we are very excited to finally have the album out to the world and hopefully people will love it.
What was the overall writing process like for Redemption?
The great thing about The CEO is all of the guys write songs, so we are never at a shortage for material. Demos are flying back and forth between the members all the time. The guys get together consistently just to write, or pitch ideas. So, when we went to the studio with Elvis Baskette (producer), it was a matter of him choosing the songs he thought were the strongest and most cohesive at that time. The funny thing is all of our demo songs are named after famous lines in the movie “Step Brothers,” so even after I’ve written lyrics and given the song a proper name, the guys in the band are still calling the songs by their demo names. “Hey, let’s work the track ‘I didn’t want Salmon!’”
Can you talk more about the songs “Black Hearts” and “The Storm?”
Absolutely! Black Hearts has an interesting story in that it almost didn’t make the album. It was originally written by our guitarist, Chase Brown and one of his buddies as a country music song they were pitching to their friends in Nashville. It was a good country song, but I didn’t think it fit The CEO’s sound/vibe, so I passed. Well, Elvis (Michael “Elvis” Baskette” – producer) heard it and wanted to make it into a rock ballad for the album. So, the guys rocked it up and I completely re-wrote the lyrics the night before I was set to record it. We pulled in one of our longtime friends to play piano on it and I couldn’t be happier with how well it turned out. Lyrically, it is simply about one of those relationships that was bad from the start and only getting worse no matter how hard you try to fix it.
“The Storm” is another song with an interesting back story. The label (RatPak Records) wanted 13 songs on the album, and we had only cut 10 at this point. So, this is one of three songs that was written in the studio and not demoed out before we went in. The band went in a week before I did to write and cut these three (The Storm, Work of Heart and Casting Shadows). So, I wrote the lyrics with my wife by the hotel pool in Orlando. The Jeffery Epstein story was hot in the media at the time and that song is about these predator types living amongst us in the shadows.
Were there any tracks that were more challenging to write?
“Casting Shadows” was probably the hardest for me. My sister committed suicide a week before we were going in the studio to write those final three songs. Clearly that event was fresh and in my mind. “Casting Shadows” is basically a conversation between me and her. Challenging to write for sure, but maybe it will land correctly with someone else, and the outcome will be different.
What was the experience like making the video for “Redemption?”
It was so much fun, we did it twice! We cut the first one early last year before the pandemic shut everything down and we released it for about two weeks, only to have to claw it back. So when the new release date was set, the label decided we needed to reshoot the video and send this one out as “fresh.” Same producer (Ben Greene), different location, same amount of hilarious stupidity between takes. These things take forever to shoot…so might as well have as much fun with it as possible. The outtakes are ridiculous. We really are a band of good friends, we enjoy being around each other and our crew, so any excuse to get together and act like clowns, we will. We were scheduled to shoot it at a local airport hangar but that ran into some last-minute issues, so we called a good friend with a giant home and shot it there. By the end of the day, it was a full-on party!
With Sevendust’s upcoming tour, and live shows returning in general, do you have any shows or livestreams in the works?
We are working on a few opportunities in the fall. Sevendust will be out until September, so we will have an official album release party/show once Vinnie gets back and hopefully get on a tour/shows/festivals in the early fall. It’s all still developing right now, especially with the backlog of established national bands going out first.
Is there anything else you want to say or add about the debut album?
We are very excited to finally get this album out to the public and look forward to hearing the feedback. We’d love to know what everyone thinks. We are on all the major social media platforms and would love to see the feedback, posts, videos, etc. Follow us on their preferred platform and let us know how we are doing with Redemption! We are so very appreciative of everyone that has shown support, purchased the record and cheering us on! Thank you.