Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: Being Here Now Never Felt So Good
So once last summer rolled around and the band members took time off from touring, they decided to try again. The lineup shifted slightly, with guitarist Nico Aglietti, bassist Aaron Older and pianist Aaron Embry exiting the group (although all three recorded parts on Here ). This time Ebert, who had recorded and produced a solo album called Alexander in early 2011, would handle production duties alone rather than with Aglietti and Older as he had on Up From Below.
When it came time to select a studio, several band members resisted a move up to Ojai, hoping to instead remain close to their LA homes. It came down to the Ed Shed, a locale that Ebert found on Craigslist and a studio in LA. The day before the band had to decide between the two, they got a call that the LA room had been rented out for a film score. Fate, it seemed, had intervened; and in October, the group rented a house in Ojai to begin recording Here for the second time.
“I think there was more excitement about creating,” says Collazo, the band’s amiable, tattooed drummer who is expecting a baby around the same time as the album’s release in late May. “Whereas in Bogalusa it was like, ‘OK, we’re making an album.’ When you go into it like, ‘We have this amount of time,’ it’s a cramp on creativity. With this, there was a deadline—a pretty rough deadline—but it was way off, so we didn’t have the pressure of timing. We just got to go in. We jammed for probably a month before we even started recording anything.”
Confirms Kirkpatrick: “Everyone had been playing with things in little corners and pockets on tour, but we hadn’t had time to sit down and think about actually recording them or watering the seeds that everyone had planted. I think what we really needed was the time to not tour and do it.”
Newfound sobriety and a breakup inspired Ebert to begin writing a book about a messianic figure named Edward Sharpe while playing in the band Ima Robot which he had formed in 1998. Songs soon followed, which emerged simultaneously from Ebert’s burgeoning new solo work as well as music that he’d written while touring and playing with his formative band.
Like a messianic figure himself, Ebert drew in the musicians that he came across in LA, including Castrinos, who he met outside of Little Pedro’s restaurant, and his longtime friend Letts. Some were seemingly accidental instances of fate intervening in the band’s path. McCord, for instance, met Ebert at a mutual friend’s party, but it wasn’t until he was jogging in Elysian Park and Ebert “popped out of a tree” that he joined the lineup. Kirkpatrick, a musical theater major from UCLA, shared an RV with Castrinos at the Burning Man festival in 2007.
This is why, in part, Up From Below, recorded in Laurel Canyon and released in July of 2009, feels so distant to band members now. “This band formed around making that first record,” McCord notes while sitting on a couch behind the soundboard at the KCRW session. “We all came in through Alex having an idea about what he wanted to do with that first Edward Sharpe record. It’s a little bit different with this record because we’d all come together for the first one and been together on the road for a few years.”
Castrinos seconds the notion: “We became a band, really, on the road.”
McCord, a gaunt, blond-haired guy with a quietly compelling voice, continues: “Those songs—from the first record—have changed as we’ve played them. They morphed into something else after playing them live so much. We developed a sound as a band through all those shows and this second record was all of us after having this experience together, bonding and putting the energy together as a whole.”
After the pressure and unpreparedness of the Bogalusa recordings, the band felt that it was important to allow space for the songs to grow and evolve in Ojai, much the same way that the tracks from Up From Below had on the road during the past three years. The process was more open than the sessions in Laurel Canyon had been, if only because this time, ten musicians were planting the aforementioned seeds instead of just one. Complete control over the studio space and a tentative spring deadline for the album helped the situation and allowed the band to spend nearly six months developing Here without having to rush.
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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