By The Pittsburgh Current
When a baseball player stands at the plate with a full count — three balls and two strikes — the pressure is on them. The next pitch delivers a decisive action, either a hit or an out.
Eric Vermillion named his band the Full Counts in part because he and drummer Mike Quinlan are baseball fanatics. But that same idea symbolizes the band members’ vision as well: Their next move is going to be decisive. And unlike a baseball game, which can sometimes move slowly, the Full Counts are ready to spring into action.
Next Up, the band’s second album, feels more like a band effort than its debut, 2017’s First Up, in large part because its predecessor was more of a studio project. Vermillion, who has played bass locally with the Steel Miners and FOOD and nationally with the band Gumball in the ’90s, recorded basic tracks for the debut with Quinlan at Electric Eye Recorders in Polish Hill. Various guests added guitar parts and a live band emerged with the record’s release.
The new album traverses a wide range of territory. “She Said” captures the best elements of Americana rock and roll, with Vermillion continuing to show that he can handle a straightforward vocal as well as a garage band wail. “On the first record I was doing a lot of acoustic stuff so I think I kind of progressed a little bit,” he says. “At the same time I’m always fine with belting out a song. That’s in my DNA at this point.”
By the album’s second half, the garage feeling comes home to roost in the gritty “Don’t Waste My Time” with some psychedelic trimmings fleshing out “Another Way.” Ethan Winograd, who added some leads to the debut, was a full-time member by the time of the new sessions. “I say to him, ‘The rest of us are cake and you’re the icing.’ Eating icing by itself isn’t that good. And cake’s okay. But cake with icing is perfect,” Vermillion says. “I think he really makes that record what it is. He plays different kinds of styles of leads and he has different sounds from one song to the next.”
Guitarist Mark Urbano, who played guitar live and on Next Up, left the band following the recordings. His successor, Andy McDuffie, played with Winograd in the Goodies and also plays in the Reckoning REM Tribute Band. With the new lineup in place, all they need to worry about is what to call the next album.