Update: Stream our new lead single "Small Fires" at Bandcamp now!
We are getting ready to release our new album “The Longest Year on Record,” and we're totally thrilled to have made it to this point. The whole process of this album seems like a whirlwind we’re just now exiting. Each of us poured our lives into this project, and the result feels nothing short of unreal. This is the album none of us could have imagined, but somehow always hoped to make.
We started in 2011 doing what we'd always done:
writing / practicing / recording / discussing / rewriting / rewriting / rewriting and eventually high-fiving.
As the songs started to unfold, our vision for "the next album" slowly began to take shape. We imagined developing something bigger, something lush and expansive. We waxed poetic about new instrumentation, recording philosophies, and how we might actually make the damn thing. "The Longest Year on Record" is the sound of those ideas fully realized: wide-open, expansive, and airy, but at the same time energetic, LOUD, and immediate.
So after many months of revising, arranging, and tracking, and many dollars spent on traveling, mixing, and mastering, we're almost done. And to get it done right, we need your support. Funds raised with this Kickstarter campaign will go towards a high-quality vinyl and CD release, as well as a number of delicious and exclusive rewards.
Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat
As much as the story of this record is the songs we’ve written, it’s also the story of making it. Sometimes it was easy. Sometimes it was not. Sometimes it made no sense, but like the coaster that graces the album cover, it was an amazing ride.
In 2010, Dan moved back to Providence from Baltimore, which allowed us to practice regularly for the first time in the band's history. Unfortunately, the honeymoon didn't last. Soon after settling into the comfortable routine of writing and practicing at our collective home, the house was foreclosed due to our landlord not paying the mortgage and subsequently going to jail.
But just as every cell probably has a key, every problem presents a unique opportunity. In our case, after some dogged searching, we came across a massive loft in South Providence, which as our new home and rehearsal space absolutely changed the makeup of our sound and our emerging plans for the album.
Back on track, and approaching our tracking date, we encountered a devastating setback. Early in 2013, Pete began to struggle with a mysterious neuromuscular disorder that gradually took away much of the strength in his limbs. By the time we were scheduled to record in May 2013, he had lost most of his ability to walk, never mind play the saxophone. Faced with a tough decision, we decided to soldier on, track the rest of the band separately, and hope that time would allow Pete to rebuild his strength and regain his ability to play. Despite being optimistic, there was a very real possibility that the album was dead in the water. In the ensuing months, we used the time to flesh out the instrumentation of the record, incorporating scores of fantastic guest musicians. All the majestic strings, horns, vocals, and more that you'll hear on the album were made possible by extending the recording schedule to accommodate Pete's injury.
Even more so, Pete's determination to get back and record (he'd subsequently moved to lovely Toronto) kept everything, including us, going. By August, he was ready to go and spent a grueling week laying down his parts for nearly the entire record.
Talkin’ Bout The Record
Shortly after we moved, we decided to forgo the typical studio approach in favor of recording the album in our loft, the place we heard our songs blossom. With the help of recording engineer (and close friend) Graham Mellor, we converted the space into a fully-functional recording studio in a matter of days.
It took us a long time to capture the sounds you'll hear on the record; all told we poured in over 130 hours into the Providence sessions (with an additional day-long session in Toronto recording ghostly piano and horns for album-closer "Pure Alexia"). These long hours allowed us to capture our best moments in a relaxed atmosphere and gave us the freedom to bring in our stellar guest musicians.
Our Band Could Be Your Community Art Project
As we worked on the songs that would make up “The Longest Year on Record”, the album transformed into a kind of community project. From the beginning, we had intended to try a few strategic overdubs. By the end of tracking, these "few overdubs" had expanded to include over 20 guest musicians, a microcosm of the community we've met through the Providence music scene. Our friends helped us make a much more powerful record than if we'd gone it alone, and we're incredibly grateful for their help.
There were several times when we weren’t sure if we could complete the project – there were technical glitches, time crunches, and the uncertainty of whether Pete could play the parts at all after the rapid onset of his condition. But with help from our friends, families, guest musicians, and Graham, we were able to see it through.
It's hard to escape the impression that the loft space was especially critical in sculpting the sound of the album. We noticed it during our first rehearsals, and the unique character of the room became apparent during recording - we would finish a take and hear the vestiges of guitar feedback or a cymbal crash lingering in the rafters.
One of our favorite aspects of this project was being able to convey this atmosphere: lofting microphones to capture the “air” in the room meant also getting the quiet sounds of birdcalls, buzzing saws from the machine shop in the alleyway, and the low rumble of passing trains.
Tracked live and with minimal editing, the songs are loud, pretty, and slightly out of control. After months of writing, re-writing, and assembling the various arrangements, the nine songs we ended up with capture the surprisingly beautiful chaos of everything being tossed into the air and landing in just the right place.
Vinyl and CDs. We’ll be releasing the album digitally (whether or not we reach our backing goal), but we feel that these songs will be best enjoyed on a physical medium. We plan to package the album on both high-quality vinyl and CD to make the release as widely available as possible. These formats allow us (through extensive liner notes) to give our collaborators visibility for their contributions. All three formats will feature the photography of Freddie Ross, who has captured the expansive feel of the album in stark and striking visuals.
Since we've entirely self-funded the recording and mixing of "The Longest Year on Record", your backing will go towards manufacturing and distributing these highest-quality physical copies of the album.
Check the Details
Vinyl: Nothing beats the warmth and substance of vinyl. We've chosen Pirates Press to manufacture the album based on their reputation for stellar quality. Classic 140-160 gram black vinyl with the artwork printed on heavy cardstock. Includes a 1-page insert with extensive liner notes. For the initial release, we're producing a limited run of 250.
CD: Sensible yet stylish, the CD will be pressed in an initial run of 500.
Digital: Get “The Longest Year on Record” beamed directly to you via telephone lines, cable wires, or nearby satellites. It’s the wave of the future! Includes digital album art and liner notes.
In addition to the standard release, several rewards exclusive to Kickstarter are available by donating to this campaign. For details, check the sidebar to the right!
Here’s what we’ve already taken on financially:
Recording gear, microphone rentals + instrument repair
(for Providence sessions) ~$1000
Tracking in Providence, RI at Millhaus Studios $2000
Recording gear and instrument maintenance
(for Toronto sessions) ~$500
Tracking in Toronto, Ontario at the Lincoln County Social Club ~$400
Mixing with Andrew Schneider at the Seaside Lounge Recording Studios in Brooklyn ~$3000
Mastering with Carl Saff at Saff Mastering in Chicago, Illinois ~$400
Transportation between Providence, Toronto, and New York ~$1500
...Plus album art, photography, and plenty of beer and donuts for guest musicians.
And a quick overview of how your backing can help:
$1800 for deluxe vinyl pressing of 250 albums
$750 for 500 CDs with jackets
$100 for publishing through ASCAP
$200 to produce additional rewards - t-shirts and prints
Stretch goal: Any backing we receive over $2500, which is the bare minimum needed to produce the album and rewards, will be used to offset our costs incurred in the lengthy creation process of the album.
We hope that you’ll consider helping us (and our gifted collaborators) down the homestretch.
If you’d like to know more about the story of the recording or catch up on news about the album, you can find details at our website
or on Facebook
Thank you, and please spread the word!
A Troop of Echoes
Pete, Nick, Dan, and Harry
Thanks to our lovely guest musicians:
Christina Stavrakas (Legacy String Trio), Annie Lagace (LST), Emily Johnston (LST), Maria Bilyeu, Justin H. Brierley (The Conversation), Graham Mellor, Doug Woolverton (Roomful of Blues), Chris Gagnon (Milkbread), Molly Hammell, Peter Scartabello (Hogg), Dave McNally, Rebekah Lobosco, Joe Hartley, Calla Mattox, Marc Hennessey (To All My Dear Friends), Bob Fish, Robbie Preliasco (Minor Mishap Marching Band), Caleb Gardner (No Ocean), Astrid Drew (Assembly of Light), Jen Long (AoL), and Rebecca Cunha.
Risks and challenges
The risks we face in completing this project largely relate to time. Our plan is to have all physical releases ready for our release show, which will take place on the first date of our tour in June 2014. We’ve made an effort to minimize other risks associated with this project by entirely self-funding and producing it up to this point.
While we don’t anticipate any issues with the vinyl format, it’s possible that the delivery of vinyl could be delayed due to unforeseen complications with adapting the audio to the lacquer-cutting process necessary for the vinyl format. We’ve tried to circumvent this problem by hiring a mastering engineer who is familiar and practiced at pre-mastering for vinyl, and works specifically with the company who will be cutting our vinyl albums. The album was also mixed in a way that avoids common problems with converting digital audio to the restrictions of vinyl. Should any delay occur we’ll act to keep the vinyl delivery as close to the planned release date as possible, and we’ll update our backers immediately of any possible delays.
The CD printing turnaround time is short enough ( a couple weeks) that we don’t anticipate any show-stopping problems here and also have a much larger margin for error.
There is essentially zero possibility of anything stopping us from a punctual release date for digital sales barring a meteorite strike.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)