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Alto Music’s Jon Haber Releases First Album

...a growing online division and a distribution business, refurbishing locations, and motivating a sales staff, he’s also found time to fulfill a lifelong dream and record an album. The music industry is filled with skilled musicians who dabble in the recording studio. What sets Haber apart is the musicality and slick production values in the debut album of his band, “DEC 3.” Haber officially launched his album with an interview and a video premiere on the Fox and Friends morning show on August 6. Since then, he’s been flooded with requests to perform and appear. As of this writing, other network appearances are pending.

DEC 3 (the name notes the fact that the three principals were born in three different decades) is made up of Haber, who plays frets and keyboards, and two longtime friends: Chris Saulpaugh on vocals, who heads the Alto Music keyboard department, and Mike Kalajian on drums, a former Alto Music employee who currently owns and manages Telegraph Recording Studio in New Paltz, New York. The trio is joined by collaborators Shane Keister, a Nashville-based keyboard ace who has performed with Paul McCartney and Five for Fighting, and Zach Cooper, best known for his work with Cambria.

The album contains 12 original songs written by Haber, a prolific song-smith who spends much of his free time recording riffs and jotting down lyric ideas. He has a long list of influences, running the gamut from the Beatles to Radiohead, and the melodies of DEC 3 will immediately resonate with anyone who grew up on the diversity of AM/FM radio. The songs range from “In Front of You,” a love song that could well serve as a metaphor for Haber’s own long-delayed ambitions, to “We’re All Friends,” an AC/DC inspired rock anthem that reflects on the Facebook phenomenon.

The album’s first single, “Red Line,” tells the story of the Syrian civil war from the viewpoint of a citizen caught up in the massacre, who is rapidly losing hope. The song, named for a sound bite from President Obama, includes the lyrics: “The leader of the whole free world/Said that he’d help rescue me/But he ain’t trying/He’s just coloring lines.”

Haber began writing songs when he was six years old, and has never stopped. In the process, he’s accumulated a large catalog, and even seen some of his music get worked into television shows such as 90210 and a number of soap operas. “It’s something I’ve always done, and I look at most things to see if they could fit into a song,” he says. Surveying his growing song catalog, a year ago last February he resolved to produce a full album. He says he’s worked on the project in some capacity or another every day since.

The album was made possible by digital recording technology. Working at a studio in his home, and at the main Alto Music location in Middleton, New York, Haber laid down most of the guitar, bass, and keyboard parts. Drum parts were recorded at Kalajian’s recording studio because “my wife wouldn’t let me do drums at home,” says Haber. Keister contributed his keyboard parts from Nashville, and Haber says he “brought in some top talent to mix the final product.”

The original plans for DEC 3 were to produce an album and “see how far it would go,” said Haber. Since the Fox News appearance, however, the band has received so many performance requests, they’re considering a limited tour and have added Todd Mihan and Mike Hamel to the lineup. “We got comfortable working together remotely,” he said. “Then all of a sudden, we had to get together and rehearse for a live performance.” Fortunately, all the band members have the chops to play live. “There’s no auto tune, rhythm correct, or gimmicks in our recording,” says Haber. “It’s all legit.”

Despite the favorable reviews for DEC3, Haber has no plans to leave his day job. As for his musical ambitions, he says, “I’m keeping at it because it’s something I love to do.”

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