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Genre > Rock > Alt & Grunge
FencesNew Album Produced By John Vanderslice (Spoon, The Mountain Goats, Samantha Crain)
Mastered By Bernie Grundman (Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, Carole King’s Tapestry)
180-Gram Vinyl Pressed By Quality Record Pressing
Vinyl Lacquers Were Cut Directly From Analog Tape
Fences is something new for our band Bombadil. It is more than just an album; it is a new path, a reset after several challenging years. The path began in January 2015, when a longtime member of Bombadil unexpectedly left our band. Daniel Michalak and I sat down to discuss our next steps. It was a time for soul searching. A duo of a bassist and drummer did not feel like a band. Moving forward seemed daunting, but we both felt like there was more to say with the band. We wanted to make music. So we began simply by making some. Writing and recording the Still Bombadil EP was fun. A fast and dirty exploration of a creative idea, no room for fiddling, deadline looming. Our last album, Hold On, had not been like that. It had been an ordeal.
Daniel suggested composing songs using guitar instrumentals our old bandmate Bryan Rahija had written, and of limiting ourselves to a small palette for the next album: guitar, piano, upright bass, harmony vocals. The goal was to make a folk record, something easy to understand, something beautiful. He shared a demo for “Binoculars” and I loved it. It was simple, elegant. We added it to the live set almost immediately. Daniel continued writing, focusing on guitar, harmony, and emotion. The songs inconveniently had no drums (what was I going to play?!). He instead wrote parts for me to sing and we began collaborating on composing tunes with a similar approach. “Fence” was written together at a friends house in Crozet, Virginia to kill time on tour. An old song of mine, “Long Life,” was revived and extended. Percussion parts started to show up. Daniel’s commitment to songwriting continued to inspire, a new demo was in my inbox almost weekly. Daniel enlisted the help of an old friend and data scientist, Nasir Bhanpuri, to analyze the success of our old catalog of songs and make suggestions to guide our writing and arranging. It was an experiment that pushed us to take the songs further than we might have in the past. In part, we were throwing ideas at the wall to see what would stick, but we were also searching for something new, actively trying to push ourselves to new creative heights.
We kept the Bombadil ship moving by accepting all shows, searching for more opportunities to play. We found wonderful people to tour in our band. There were good shows. There were bad ones, too. I learned to be a lead singer on the fly and on stage (with the help of an encouraging septuagenarian opera singer). And we kept writing, practicing, and recording. In July 2015, Stacy Harden sent me an email inquiring if we needed a musician. In his audition, he played through songs like he had been in the band all along. He even knew the harmonies. He had grown up a fan of the band, singing along in the car. In October, Stacy and I drove our equipment across the country for a West Coast tour in a four-day sprint and listened to every song the Beatles recorded. His easy-going spirit was infectious, his presence made the band more fun and more inspiring. We had found our man. “What’s So Great About You” was the first collaboration between this new trio, and we started to discover what a new version of our band sounded like.
In January 2016, the three of us left North Carolina for Littleton, Massachusetts to spend several weeks at a friend’s farmhouse. We recorded all day long, cooked together, spent our breaks around a roaring wood stove carefully tended to by Daniel. The resulting demo recordings gave us a roadmap to follow. Our label, Ramseur Records, suggested a producer, a departure after self-recording our last three records. John Vanderslice was given the demos and was enthusiastic about the material. He insisted that we listen closely to Paul Simon’s first record. He told us the songs needed a sense of danger, that our demos felt like we were being too careful, and that the songs needed more percussion. John is opinionated, talented, and inspirational. And most of all, making the record with him over 12 days in September 2016 at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco was easy. And fun. And fast. We used only analog equipment, recording to tape through high-end vintage equipment. Bryan came to play his guitar parts (which by this point Stacy had learned for live performances of the material). The recordings were all first takes, new ideas were quickly embraced, mistakes were left alone as intention, very little artificial reverb was used but John’s concrete echo chamber was used extensively. We hoped to catch lightning in a bottle and I think that we did.
To me, Fences represents the journey of the last two years. It is the discovery of a group voice, the willingness to explore collaboration between old friends, and an openness to let new voices into the fold. It is something I am proud to have been a part of and am excited to share with the world. To me, it is an example of the power and positivity of collaboration, of a group of human beings working diligently on a shared vision. If nothing else, I can say that we tried as hard as we possibly could. I can’t wait to do it again.
Thank you for listening,
James Phillips/Bombadil1. What’s So Great About You
2. Not Those Kind of People
4. Math and Love
7. Good News Sadie
8. I Could Make You So Happy
9. Long Life
10. Is This Danger
11. No Snow in the Valley
$20.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Tarpits And CanyonlandsPackage Includes Two 180 Gram, Colored 12-inch Vinyl Records
Remastered From The Original Analog Tapes Direct To 24/96 At 45rpm, Producing The Highest Sound Quality Possible Bringing Out The Warmth And Intimacy Of Bombadil’s Whimsical Arrangements And Studio Production Like Never Heard Before.
Custom Triple Jacket Gatefold With String Closure Includes 14 Art Prints (12x9 In Size Printed On High-quality Matte Paper Suitable For Framing) By American Illustrator Robbi Behr Of Idiots’books For Each Of The Album’s Songs.
Just prior to the original 2009 CD release, Tarpits and Canyonlands was receiving absolute rave notices from press that concurred that this was the band’s breakthrough album. It was only their second record, but they were already soaking in some very heady accolades.
But then, everything fell apart. The band’s Daniel Michalak, considered Bombadil’s main driving force, was diagnosed with neural tension, an ailment that caused such debilitating pain and incapacitation, he couldn’t play keyboards, bass, harmonica, guitar or ukulele. Consequently, Bombadil couldn’t tour, an essential component in the promotion of the album. So, despite all of the tremendous early reviews, the buzz, and the forecasting of a great success, Tarpits and Canyonlands was essentially stillborn.
OK, that’s the strange and sad part of the story; now here’s the triumphant part: After five years of visiting every kind of doctor imaginable and ingesting every form of medication, Michalak saw improvement.
Fast-forward to 2012. Bombadil launched its first U.S. tour in five years with Michalak, who is on the road, playing shows and doing great.
Now it’s time for Tarpits and Canyonlands to be given a second chance at life. With an album that is “loaded with charm, playfulness and an unpredictable bent that keeps every song interesting,” it deserves a wider audience. Bombadil is set to tour for the bulk of 2014, so they’ll be able to give this magical album the support it initially deserved, and people will have the opportunity to hear what one writer called “a breakthrough and breakaway from a band whose ideas, enthusiasm, abilities and emotions have finally found their nexus.”1. I Am
2. Sad Birthday
5. Cold Runway
6. Oto The Bear
8. So Many Ways To Die
11. Kuala Lumpur
13. 25 Daniels
15. Kate And Kelsey
$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs SealedBuy Now
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction. That was also right around the time that Nirvana and Pearl Jam fueled the grunge rock explosion.
And when you want the full and real alt rock experience, you’ve gotta try it out on vinyl, and SoundStage Direct is your one-stop shop for all the best alternative rock vinyls.