A music blog from Ireland.
Having just been announced as a new addition to Forbidden Fruit festival in June, we follow on from the first installment of Autumn Owls’ trip to record their debut album in Chicago, and learn that the indie rock trio have acclimatised to the Windy City’s music scene by way of some gigs and radio shows. Some intrepid investigation on my part led to winnowing out the tentative title of the album as Between Buildings, Toward The Sea. This week each member took turns to describe the first few days away and what the band are working up to by joining forces with the producer Brian Deck. We begin with bassist Adam picking up where he left off last week…there’s plenty of fun chat along with photos to fend off any sense of the guys’ nerves at recording, which is after all what they’ve gone to bat for in Chicago….
Wednesday: Chicago. The city that never sleeps. The land of the rising sun. It’s got many names, but it only lives up to one. The Big Apple. Its big, and the apples are good. We arrived in Chicago on Wednesday evening and got picked up by our manager Sir Brian McKinney. It was a short drive (2 hours) into town to our bedsit, a local community housing program for disadvantaged Irish immigrants. The beds are comfy and the clientele constantly drunk, so we’re happy with everything.
Thursday: On Thursday morning we partook in a group jogging session to try burn off some of the extra calories we put on the previous night. Well, our manager made us, he told us Chicago is all about aesthetics, and if we’re gonna make it then we have to lose some weight and tone up. It’s a harsh regime, but then again we’re in this for the long run so we just put our heads down and ran our silly socks off.
That afternoon we booked a rehearsal room to learn how to play our instruments. We only started playing about 3 weeks ago so we needed the 30 minute rehearsal to learn the basics. G, C, E, D and other such chords. We really like the chord of C.
Friday: We woke up in a jet lagged stupor (hangover) to be treated to a waffle and strudel breakfast expertly made by our manager. We relaxed and familiarised ourselves in the plush surroundings of our downtown apartment which will be our home for the next month. In celebration of our safe arrival we then had a champagne lunch of Moet and cheap pizza.
Soon after we left to do a radio interview with the lovely people of Fearless Radio. Justin from Fearless picked our brains on all manner of music-related issues including such eclectic subject matter as hologram live shows and the future of the music industry as we know it. He played our last single and then I performed two stripped-down acoustic songs on a borrowed guitar. We took a stroll around the city and then returned home for a feed of ’80s cheesy movie and some red wine. After just about coming to terms with the magic of ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper as an acting force we left to make the short journey to Cal‘s to play our first gig.
A little warm-up gig in a charming downtown dingy bar. We had our first run through the set and even managed to sell some CDs. We also got to meet our producer Mr Brian Deck in person for the first time. He complimented us on our live performance but did seem rather disappointed that none of us looked very Irish. We hung out with the other bands for a while who kindly supplied us with backline. We left before closing for some more red wine and some Louis CK back in the apartment.
Saki Records and Reggie’s Bar. We loaded Brian’s Al Capone Mobile with our guitars and equipment and headed out to Saki Records to play an in-store. We stopped off at Lula’s in Logan Square for a bit of lunch before we went to Saki Records. Big Science, a local Chicago band, were generous enough to loan us their drums and amps. The guys from Epitonic.com were there to record the show, and hand out free beer! Which was a surreal experience. Walking around a record store checking out vinyl and CD’s with a beer in your hand, it’s a real shame we don’t do this kinda thing at home in Dublin. The show went well, sold a couple of CDs too. We had to leave early then to head over to Reggie’s for load-in.
Brontosaurus were up first on in Reggie’s, a great Chicago two-piece who are more like a 64-piece orchestra. Two guys manage to play drums, guitar, bass, a second guitar, keys and xylophone at the same time. And were kind enough to hand over their take of the door to us! Thanks lads.
We were up next, we played the same set as Cal’s the previous night. The gig went well. Semaphores seemed to go down as the crowd’s favourite. Like Pioneers were on last, really good Chicago band, who were kind enough to loan us their backline AND invite us back to their house for a a few beers and Ping Pong. Turns out Adam has been hiding his remarkable Forrest Gump-like Ping Pong capabilities from the band, rumour has it he’s representing Ireland in the Olympics this year and may be quitting the band soon to pursue this gift professionally.
Slept in the same bed as Adam again last night, and went grocery shopping together for the third time week in our local supermarket, I think the staff (and Gar) think we’re a gay couple…we should probably stop holding hands in public. And we just made it to the studio for the first day of recording. We’re in your prayers.