Water Tower – Fly Around
Water Tower – Fly Around
Format: CD – Digital
Label: Dutch Records
Release date: May 21, 2021
Los Angeles based indie-folk/bluegrass revivalists Water Tower (formerly known as Water Tower Bucket Boys, changing their name in 2012 following the release of their ‘Meet Me Where The Crow Don’t Fly’ EP) are proud to announce the European release of their long-gestating debut album, ‘Fly Around’. Rooted in bluegrass and folk, the band mix in psychedelic and punk influences across its ten tracks, creating their own intoxicating brand of Americana.
For every band, there is a point in time where the question will arise whether to quit. Water Tower front man and co-founder Kenny Feinstein asked himself that exact question when following the recording of their originally planned full-length debut, Secret Love Buzz, Feinstein found himself without a crew, the other three members quit having grown exasperated with his tireless attempts to turn his life around. Feinstein then focused his energy on his debut solo album, a cover of My Bloody Valentine’s seminal album, Loveless, entitled Loveless: ‘Hurts To Love’, released in the fall of 2013 (Fluff & Gravy Records).
Once ‘Loveless: Hurts to Love’ was released, Feinstein regrouped, assembling yet ANOTHER line-up of Water Tower, calling on lifelong friends Peter Daggatt, (Swiss Army Knife) Pat Norris (bass) and Harry Sellick (drums, backing vocals) with Feinstein deciding to start afresh with the new line-up and make another record. That record would become ‘Fly Around’.
A fan of bluegrass and traditional folk music, Feinstein also grew up on punk and psychedelic rock, citing The Germs as a major influence. Reaching out to former Germs’ drummer Don Bolles, Kenny recruited him to help to produce ‘Fly Around’, bringing the L.A.-based Bolles to Portland, Oregon, where Feinstein was living at the time, to track the record at Deer Lodge Studios, with Ezra Meredith engineering.
Following the tracking of the album, the band moved to Los Angeles, where they continued work on the record at Nightbird Studios in Hollywood, with the help of engineer Juliette Amoroso, and Bolles again producing.
“Don Bolles is a punk rock legend who brought something to the plate that was very raw, an unbridled enthusiasm for our music, which was already steeped in tradition from another era.”
Bolles would go on to handle all the drums for the album, as well as play some guitar and bass, and as Feinstein puts it, “all around directed everything.” Other guests include Black Flag’s second singer Ron Reyes adding lead vocals to ‘Anthem’, ex. Old Crow Medicine Show (who’d helped Water Tower Bucket Boys early in their career) member Willie Watson who sang lead vocals on ‘Fly Around’ and harmonies on their version of Spacemen 3’s ‘Come Down Easy’, as well as Bullets and Octane’s Gene Louis on backing vocals for ‘Fly Around’.
The result is ‘Fly Around’, a concept album focused around the idea of leaving home for another, ideally better home, which Feinstein himself did while making the album. There is a personal story behind each song.
‘Mile High Club’ is a spacey, psychedelic instrumental featuring samples from Bolles’ vinyl collection of airplanes taking off from LAX, as well as keyboards from Ariel Pink’s keyboard player Shags. The song, which is the mid-point of the album, symbolizes the voyage from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles and the rebirth that happens in your new hometown. “The album is very much about leaving Portland for Los Angeles, or leaving one lover for another; or, saying goodbye to an old life,” points out Feinstein. While ‘Mile High Club’ may seem out of place when it first hits, taken in context it fits in perfectly and helps explain the further psychedelic moments of the proceeding tracks, as well as the punk-rock infusion of album closer, ‘Anthem’.
One thing folk traditionalists will recognize is the title track, ‘Fly Around’, though they may not recognize its offspring, “Fly Abound.”
Feinstein says, “‘Fly Around’ is a version of a traditional song, but we changed the structure just a little bit to make it our own. ‘Fly Abound,’ which is another take on the same song, but changed so dramatically that it is barely recognizable. We slowed it down and changed the key. ’Fly Around’ has been a very important song to us throughout the years. It is a song that we have been playing different versions of for so many years. There are lots of songs that get deeper every time you listen to or play, and this is one of those songs that we have lived.”
“Fly Around” lyrically spoke to Feinstein, and the band, and helped sum up the feelings of love, love lost, obsession, death, and moving – all topics Feinstein felt were alive in the album’s other songs. “Lyrically, we ended up alluding to the mental anguish that is caused by dependency and loss,” he says. However, even Feinstein will admit, while the lyrics may be darker at times, musically the album veers in a more upbeat, positive direction.
“This record came out totally different than I imagined it would,” admits Feinstein. “Initially, I thought we would be able to finish it in a few weeks and that it would sound somewhat like our live performance…But since we brought Don Bolles and Ariel Pink into the mix, they brought completely different ideas that I would have never imagined. And the album ended up taking over three years to complete, from the initial tracking to mastering, which I would have never expected. Don is a perfectionist.”
Now, some might wonder why a band rooted in bluegrass would approach a punk rock drummer to produce their record, especially since he had no history or experience in the traditional bluegrass or Americana music scene. Feinstein is quick to answer that question; it is exactly why they sought Bolles out: “The main reason we approached Don to begin with was because we knew that he hadn’t done much work in the old-time/bluegrass/country genre, so we wanted to throw him in the deep-end musically. He knew exactly how to treat our songs in order to make them something that he would enjoy listening to. That in itself is a challenge, to make music that Don would enjoy. Don is very specific about his musical tastes. We wanted to have his punk rock/bubblegum influences – and he gave us that and more.”
“The music borrows from tradition, but feels no sense of restraint when it comes to traditional rules. We have spent many years playing traditional bluegrass, traditional old time, and Cajun. Within these musical groups there are many stylistic idiosyncrasies that are important to adhere to, but in the making of our album we treated the tunes as traditional songs that we wrote, that we’ve then felt we could break down and beat the tradition out of while still maintaining old-timey relevance.”
Realizing the band has kept their fanbase waiting for a few years, Feinstein hopes fans, upon hearing Fly Around, believe it is worth the wait.
02. Fly Around (feat. Willie Watson)
04. Come Down Easy
06. Mile High Club
07. Classic Misdirection
08. Fly Abound
09. It’s Wrong
10. Anthem (feat. Ron Reyes)
All songs written by Kenny Feinstein except ’Fly Around’ (Traditional), ‘Mile High Club’ by Don Bolles and Shags Chamberlain
& ‘Come Down Easy’ by Jason Andrew Pierce & Peter John Kember