ALBUM PREMIERE: Philly Band Up The Chain Share ‘The Prison Break’ With Track-By-Track Commentary

The City of Brotherly Love has been on a role lately when it comes to its music scene, which has seen a slew of talented indie rock acts emerge in recent years. One of those acts is Up The Chain. Once the longtime solo project/labor of love for singer-songwriter Reed Kendall, the self-proclaimed neighbor rock outfit has landed comparisons to Ryan Adams, Beck and Delta Rae among others. On March 11th Up The Chain celebrates a new iteration as a trio with the release of The Prison Break (Red Dust Music), their new full-length LP.

Glide Magazine is excited to present an exclusive premiere of Up The Chain’s The Prison Break in advance of its release. The album is filled with intriguing sounds and effects that sets it apart from your typical indie rock fare, and to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the process of putting it together, Up The Chain’s lead singer-songwriter and guitarist Reed Kendall, bassist Noah Skaroff and drummer Kirby Sybert have also shared the story behind each track. 

Give a listen to Up The Chain’s new album The Prison Break and while you listen make sure to check out the band’s colorful commentary on the tunes:

“Kelly Green”

I enjoy how Bright Eyes records usually start off with a less-than-traditional track. There are a lot of ambient sounds that appear throughout this record and Kelly Green very much sets the tone for that. While tracking the many layers of guitar tones we accidentally picked up and recorded the radio frequency of a Phillies game as Jimmy Rollins hit a home run, so that definitely stayed in the mix. I also threw a bunch of other hidden bits in there as well, including Google directions to some pretty questionable places. -Reed

“Crumbling The Stone”

Aside maybe from “Globe”, no song changed during pre-production more than “Crumbling.” My favorite part of working with Karl Petersen is that he can take a quiet, finger-picked, singer/songwriter style tune and transform it into something exciting and rockin’. Going through changes like this with him and the guys really opened up a lot of doors for me and my writing and it certainly served the songs/recordings well. When I listen back to the original demo it really makes me appreciate how great this team is. -Reed

This was the first song that the three of us recorded together.  While we were playing back the chorus in the studio, Reed’s dad called him, and the sound his cell phone made gave me the idea for the keyboard part. -Noah

“No Waiting Lines”

There are a lot of songs about second/third/infinite chances on this record, and “No Waiting Lines” is a prime example. No matter how inexperienced, old or jaded you may be; and no matter how many past failures you’ve endured, it’s never too late to try again with something new. -Reed

What makes this song for me is a keyboard part added by Karl called “Island Boy”.  There are also a number of little details where Reed would pick a random MIDI sound and a would play the first riff I could think of with that sound.

-Noah

“Sidecar”

This is the first song I wrote on electric guitar. I wrote the words on a train on the way to meet up with a band I was going to open for (solo) on tour for a little bit. We had a long drive to New Orleans the next day and we were told a crawfish boil would await us in our friends’ backyard, hence the lyric about mudbugs. Even though the backyard boil never happened, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I consider what this song is about. – Reed

“Game Kids”

Revolving around adolescence and growing up, “Game Kids” follows the idea of hearing about fairy tales and wonderful ideas and realizing the reality that’s around you. Trying to make those dreams a reality. It has elements of  goofing around as a kid and never thinking of the repercussions of causing trouble. – Kirby

“Globe”

This was another tune that Karl saved. I was en route to throwing it away because it was too strummy and geared toward one guy with a guitar, but somehow we ended up playing in 3 (it was originally in 4) and used this old Casio organ with a built-in rhythm section set to “Waltz” as the foundation for the rest of the parts. Kirby plays the guitars on this one. The vibe did a 180 and we found ourselves with a foundation open to all sorts of different sounds, which we were eager to explore. – Reed

While we were recording this song, we were having some difficulty with the structure. Our friend Matt Wong was at the studio, and he heard us playing through one section and insisted that we play two particular chords over and over again, which became the final section of the song and brought the arrangement together. – Noah

“Pineapple or Potato?”

I record a lot of ideas that I hope to one day turn into songs. Maybe this will turn into a full song one day, but for now it fits as a vibe buffer between “Globe” and “Windows”. The name comes from a game the band likes to play. We are happy to teach you the rules in person. – Reed

“Windows Pt. 2”

This is a reworking of the title track from 2015’s Windows Into Worlds EP. We do a lot of 3-part harmonies during our live show and this is the tune that lends itself best to that. There isn’t too much instrumentation in the first verse and we use that space to focus on the words/harmonies. This is very much a straight-forward love song.  – Reed

This was the first song in our live show that really had the distinctive stamp of what the three of us sound like together.  Singing together is an amazing way that humans build community and bond, and I feel that when we play this song.

-Noah

“Departed Trains”

I wrote this on a plane heading out to San Francisco to visit a friend and do some recording in a new environment. As is evident by the tone of the lyrics, a change of scenery was due. This song used to be called “The Prison Break” until that seemed to fit better as the title for the whole record. Dan Schwartz from Good Old War adds some really spooky guitars to this track, which I love. – Reed

“The River James”

The James River runs through Richmond, an old stomping ground of mine. I used to avoid class by swimming in it. Back in the Civil War, Richmond was the capital of the Confederacy until it burned to the ground and was taken over by the Union. When I wrote this song I felt a bit like Richmond as it was being rebuilt by new ownership. The siren at the beginning (if you listen from the end of “Windows pt. 2”) is the signal in Avalon, NJ that it’s noon. Aside from this daily alarm, we had an incredible amount of privacy and peace recording in an off-season beach town. The alarm, however, crept into a few of the recordings and it seemed fitting to include it, especially given the name of the album.  Actually, now that I think about it, I think it was a factor in the decision to name the album The Prison Break. – Reed

“Start Of A Ghost”

My friend had lent me this beautiful 1937 Capital (Gibson) acoustic guitar that I absolutely loved using to record. I was able to make a demo of this tune with it, but I had to give it back before we went to make the full album. We messed around with this song a little bit as a band, but ended up using the demo I made in my basement. This is the only song on the record with acoustic guitar. Listening back, that beauty is always the first image I see. The Great White Buffalo. The song’s lyrics touch on letting go of the old and starting fresh with the new, so let’s just say it’s about that Capital guitar. – Reed

“On Your Side”

This song is about using scars and past troubles as a source of strength for whatever lies ahead. Overcoming pain and beginning the process of moving forward is always a struggle, which is why we need some help from the folks around us. This is an attempt to be helpful. It’s hopeful and open to anything, which is the feeling with which we wanted to end the album. – Reed

 

Up The Chain release The Prison Break on March 11th via Red Dust Music

Pre-order: http://bit.ly/ThePrisonBreak

For more info on Up The Chain visit upthechain.com

Photo credit: Caitlin McCann

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