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They've performed with the biggest names in rock music, and now they are also their own supergroup

The Immediate Family has a new album coming out this week, called Skin In the Game

Jay Gilbert/Chris Schmidt
The Immediate Family has a new album coming out this week, called Skin In The Game. They're playing at Santa Barbara's Lobero Theater Wednesday night.

The Immediate Family is performing at Santa Barbara's Lobero Theater this week, with a new album set for release on Friday.

They helped create the soundtrack for an entire generation. Since the 1970’s, they’ve performed with everyone from Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Billy Joel, and Carole King to Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.

They were the band behind the scenes...the guitars, the drums, and the vocals. Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel, Steve Postell, Russ Kunkel, and Leland Sklar have been friends for decades, and performed together in different combinations for years. They finally decided to create their own band, The Immediate Family.

"I was offered a deal to do a solo album, and I said obviously, I'd love to use my boys. But, they're rarely around, because there among the most in demand musicians around the world," said Danny Kortchmar, better known in the industry as Kootch.

"Amazingly, they were all available," said Kortchmar. "So, we went in for three or four days, Waddy came in later, and when we started to play, it was obvious how much fun it was, and that we should start doing some gigs, and make it a band."

The guitarist and producer’s career dates back to the 1960’s, when he performed in bands with then unknown Carole King, and James Taylor.

"What influenced the 50's I grew up listening to soul music and blues," said Kortchmar. "I'm from New York, I'm an East Coaster, and when I got to LA, it was exactly the right time. There was a music community happening right around us. It just kind of fell together."

He was playing with everyone from Taylor and King to David Crosby, and his fellow bandmates now in The Immediate Family.

Kortchmar said over the decades, the musicians would reconnect with each other in different combinations, for different projects. 

In the 1980’s, encouraged by music legends like Peter Asher and Lou Adler, he also started producing. His projects included three Don Henley albums when Henley went solo from the Eagles.

"We were taught by Peter and Lou to think like producers," said Kortchmar. "If you come up with ideas you don't just be what we called a studio sausage, and sit there. Come up with something fresh and new."
Kortchmark admits a lot has changed in the music business since he first started some six decades ago.

Where does he think rock music is going? "That's a tough, tough question, said Kortchmar. "I have no idea. Music doesn't have the same power, and influence it used to have back in the day. Everyone was listening to FM radio, and everyone was hearing the same music. Now, if all you like is heavy metal, you never listen to anything but heavy metal."

He said young people have great production ideas, and know how to use the technology. But, he said that's very different than making records with a band. "I think a lot of the music sounds sterile, made out of cardboard to me, because of that." 

The Immediate Family was the subject of an award winning documentary named after the band. It has a new album called Skin In The Game which is being released this week. But, all of this is a sidebar for band members, because they are working on other projects.

"It's all just is. We're very proud of all the people we've gotten to play music with, for sure. But, a chance to do our own material and do it our own way is interesting for us."

The Immediate Family is doing a short seven date tour, squeezing it in around their other work. The band is playing at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater Wednesday night, but it’s sold out.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.