We used to do our homework together. I met Alan Schaefer, lead singer and guitarist for Atlanta-based band Another Man Down in 1991, when we were in college, just around the time he got serious about playing the guitar. We used to cram for finals, and even skipped a few Mass Communications Law classes, opting to eat an IHOP breakfast instead. Alan moved to Atlanta in 1993 and started a band, and in the interest of journalistic integrity, I fully disclose that we have stayed close friends over the years. Fast forward to February 24, 1998, 11:15pm; Alan and his twin brother Robert (Alan is 4 minutes older) are standing in my doorway. “Sorry we are late, we got lost!” Alan says. They are in town on a two-day whirlwind trip, visiting with label people, making trips to studios, and hanging out with Ed Roland of Collective Soul. We have time for a short visit before they must head back to South Beach.
Sitting in my living room, Alan and Robert give me a quick review: The band started in 1993 and went by the name of Groundscore. Later, it was decided that this name did not fit. “It was wrong,” said Alan, “It did not reflect the type of music we played and it sounded too Deadhead.” They struggled to come up with the right name. On a trip to New York, lead guitarist Mike Turner noticed a guy passed out face down in the gutter and said, “there’s another man down!” We all just looked at each other and said, “that’s it!”
With Alan singing, his brother Robert Schaefer on bass, and Mike on lead guitar, North Carolina native Dan Fishman rounds out the band on drums. Originally, Alan was not the singer. “We fired our first singer,” said Alan. “The funny thing is that I never liked to sing. When we were little, Robert was the one who liked to sing. He was the one who sang lead for school plays, not me!” Along with singing, Alan is the principal writer but “everyone contributes and we arrange together.”
After playing 100 shows in the last year, the band quickly developed a local and regional following, and their first single, “Miracle of Youth,” received local airplay on 99X, 96 Rock, and Album 88. Their intense live performances earned them support slots for Live, The Verve Pipe, Cake, Drivin ‘N Cryin, and the Nixons, as well as a showcase at New York’s famed CBGB during the Macintosh Music Festival.
Another Man Down has played at all the Atlanta venues, including The Roxy, The Cotton Club, and Smith’s Olde Bar. They’ve also been performing a weekly acoustic set at McDuff’s in Atlanta for the last ten months. The Verve Pipe, Tonic, and their good friends Cool For August have all made a point to drop in and jam with the guys. Members of Matchbox 20, Collective Soul, and Rage Against the Machine have also made it a point to come see the band as well.
Another Man Down is also often on the road; they’ve played in Birmingham, Nashville, Philadelphia, New York, Athens, North and South Carolina. “We’re very comfortable in the studio but we really consider ourselves a live band first,” says Alan.
Another Man Down released their debut CD Smothered in 1997, and In Tune Magazine named it one of the best indie releases of ’97; however, they are not pushing the record now. “It is not reflective of the band now. It does not represent the band. We are better than the record,” said Alan. They recently finished recording three songs at Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta with engineer Jim Zumpano (Michael Jackson), featuring “Spinach,” “In Case You Didn’t Know,” and “Perfect.” I asked Alan why that song was called “Spinach,” since the word “spinach” is not mentioned once in the song and from the lyrics, the song does not seem to be about a green leafy vegetable. Alan explained: “‘Spinach’ came about because Robert got tired of seeing “new song” on the set lists. So he called it ‘Spinach,’ and it stuck.” Upon further reflection, Alan says the song has deeper meaning. “The song is about facing problems and dealing with them. You don’t want to eat spinach, but you know it is good for you.” “In Case You Didn’t Know” has single written all over it, with its soul- searching lyrics and beautiful Spanish-style guitar solo.
The members are influenced by a variety of musicians. Alan’s include Billy Joel and, from a songwriting perspective, Elton John. Dan loves the Beatles and U2, Robert grew up listening to Rush and Van Halen, and Mike listens to the Ramones, the Rolling Stones and Elvis Costello.
Another Man Down was recently in New York to play for various label people. When they are not playing, Alan and Robert manage their own web site, http://www.tourdates.com, which gives information on national band dates and offers free home pages for local bands.
I asked Alan why he wanted to be in a band. “I guess we want people to hear what we have to say. It is very satisfying to hear “hey, that song reminds me of something I went through.” It is great when people connect with what we are saying. It makes me realize that my thoughts are not so crazy after all.” For more information, contact Alan at AnotherManDown@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 550174 Atlanta, GA 30355.