JACKSON, Wyo. — A year ago, local indie-folk rock quartet Inland Isle packed up thousands of dollars worth of studio gear and drove to cabin in Montana to create an isolated and focused recording experience. Two weeks later, they walked out of the cabin with a debut album on a hard drive, the forthcoming Time Has Changed Us, which will likely be released in its entirety in March or April. In the meantime, the band released a lyric video today for “Celestine,” the second song from the album to hit streaming platforms.
“I had this spooky, Tom Waits-esque chord progression kicking around for some time that I really liked, so I decided to make it a murder ballad,” explained guitarist/vocalist Dusty Nichols, who penned the song. “I drew from an experience of my own while traveling…one of those situations that was a narrow escape from a situation that could have been really bad.”
That eeriness can be heard throughout “Celestine,” which opens with a four-part, hymnal style vocal part and closes with a haunting arpeggiated banjo and electric guitar. The song’s vibe paired perfectly for a day of recording on a snowy Halloween.
“The identity of this song really developed while we were up there at the cabin,” added guitarist/vocalist Patrick Chadwick who sings the lead part on the song. “We had the 1922 film, Nosferatu, playing in the background while we were recording it, which also appears in the lyric video.”
“This tune is especially vocal heavy,” Nichols said. “Last summer, we would get together every week and rehearse vocals with no instruments in hand, just working on harmonies. And that translated so well when we went into the studio together. We tried to layer vocals track-by-track but it wasn’t sounding all that good, so we setup four mics and sang together like we had been doing the entire summer. Right from the get-go it was a game changer and we did that for the rest of the record.”
“Of all the songs (on the album), Celestine captures the vibe of us there in the cabin,” said bassist/vocalist Leif Routman. “We’d been up there eight days without going to town, snowed in and just feeling it.”
The band changed its name from Canyon Kids to Inland Isle in February and then completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for $12,481 back in mid-March as reality of the pandemic was taking hold. The primary goal of the campaign was to “get its music heard beyond Jackson Hole.” That included sourcing services like album mixing and mastering (which was tackled in-house by band mate and drummer/vocalist Shawn Fleming), hiring a Seattle-based publicist that has worked with big name bands like Death Cab for Cutie, and finding an agent for booking tours.
The album’s first single, “Song for Discouraged Liberals,” was released to streaming platforms last month in timely fashion with election season.
“We definitely weren’t talking about being a political band,” Chadwick said. “I think (the song) is more personal than political, the feeling that one can’t fully grasp the gravity of what’s been happening the last four years. To an extent, that affected all of the songs on the record, just how that broader national environment seeps into your personal interactions.”
On the band’s website, the “Song for Discouraged Liberals” is further described as “a new song about family members succumbing to Trumpism” and “it’s been hard to see loved ones who are unable or unwilling to grasp the creeping authoritarianism, resurgent white supremacy and devastating science denialism of the past four years. From the White House to our police departments, we need leaders who can show basic decency, empathy and logic.”
Not only has the pandemic put a halt to booking regional tours for the band, two members have recently relocated—Nichols to Boise and Fleming to Portland, Oregon. But that’s not going to stop the quartet from pursuing the original vision. Regional and even national touring is still in their sights, held intact by an optimism for a newfound appreciation for live music on the other side the pandemic as well as a record that they’re extremely proud of.
“With the nature of everything these days, we’ll release a song at a time, push some videos as exclusives, and be able to pitch songs to Spotify playlists,” Chadwick said. “Being in the same physical space is a big deal for a band so we’ll need to sort through that but we’ve already put in so much work that we can pick up where we left off rather easily. The idea is that we’re trying to bridge to a point to where we can play live again.”
To track the band’s forthcoming releases, visit InlandIsleMusic.com.
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