Say what you will about Nashville and the state of the music industry these days, but the fact is that there are some real fine bands coming out of Music City. One of those bands is the young trio Harpooner, who bring to mind The Strokes meets 1970’s power pop with a hint of psychedelia on their debut full-length album Rose Park, coming out this Friday, June 24th and of which you can listen to a sneak preview of here on Glide Magazine. Interestingly enough, the album is actually about the band’s decision to move to Nashville from Indiana, and the major life changes that lead up to that.
Harpooner frontman Scott Schmadeke points out that it’s “based on the experiences that were very new to me, like a collapsed lung, or being hit by a car at SXSW, to a series of unsuccessful relationships, Rose Park describes my last few days and loves as a Hoosier. I had been contemplating moving to Nashville ever since finishing college since I was touring with Tennessee acts The Kernal and Andrew Combs. Taking the red eye Megabus down from Indianapolis to Nashville every other week with my piano was probably the most excruciating situation I could have put myself through. Needless to say, Josh, Max, and I decided we’d like to give a new city a try and Nashville was close and full of music.”
When it came to recording Rose Park, it was a matter of good and bad luck and timing that made it all work out, and recording also brought these Hoosiers back to their home state.
“Right when we moved to Nashville during Labor Day weekend of 2014, our close friend, Andy Beargie, built an analog studio in the basement of a gay bar in Bloomington. Naturally we were bummed because of the timing but they said if we came back up, we could be their guinea pigs in the new space,” says Schmadeke, adding, “they say ‘Whatever you do on New Year’s Day, you’ll do often in the coming year,’ so we decided to start tracking this record January 1st, 2015. It took a total of 32 days in the studio just to record and mix this album spread out over the course of the next 10 months, a luxury we could NEVER afford in Nashville.”
Rose Park is teeming with dreamy pop tunes that linger in your mind long after hearing them. This is seriously catchy stuff, and to pull it off the band looked to the titans of pop music and rock, doing their best to emulate their favorites while crafting a sound that was entirely their own at the same time.
“We experimented with production tricks we’ve picked up along the way from our favorite producers, whether it was throwing a space echo on drums (George Martin), a piano (Phil Spector), or violins (Jeff Lynne); we wanted to give an homage to the artists and albums we’ve loved our whole lives. The studio has no windows in it so most times we would work close to 24 hours a day and not realize it,” says Schmadeke.
Indeed, the Beatles and Electric Light Orchestra are just some of the acts you can hear hints of throughout Rose Park. This may only be Harpooner’s debut LP, but these musicians clearly approached it with a refined, clear vision, making for songs that are layered with a delightful array of trippy instrumental flourishes and odd noises. Maybe that was the point.
“These are really the first songs I’ve ever fully arranged, ‘Bigger Thoughts’ being the very first. I think that’s why I extended it so long, maybe even too long at the end. But I couldn’t have done any of this without the talents of the musicians on this record. Max Mullen on bass, Josh Morrow on drums, Diederik Van Wassanaer on violin/violas, and Josh Menashe & Owle Sigman on guitars. These Bloomy boys live all over the country now but we brought it all back to the heart of Hoosierland to make an album I couldn’t be more proud of,” admits Schmadeke.
Listen to Harpooner’s debut LP Rose Park:
Harpooner release Rose Park this Friday, June 24th. For more info check out their Facebook page.
You can also check out a trailer for the album here: