By Kasha Lishman
England in 1819 went into the wild to find a new sound, and that’s exactly what they came back with – though not without a struggle.
England in 1819 w/ West Without & Selfaware Wolf
Saturday, April 26
Saturday, April 26
Composed out of a cabin in Asheville, brothers Andrew and Dan Callaway fought the terrors of technological retreat – and a bear, of course – to create the unique and completely different sound of their latest record, Electric Fireball Tomorrow.
“It was a wild experience,” said Dan. “There was no TV, phone or Internet. There was a bear, but we scared him away. We started carrying golf clubs after that, but thankfully never had to use them.”
Until recently, England in 1819 were renowned for their grand, sweeping instrumentality, and delicate, dark vocals. Identifiers such as rich, operatic vocals and moving French horn and oboe set the band apart from anything else Baton Rouge had seen musically. Their albums, Three Cheers for Bertie and Alma were local successes, but fans may notice some not so subtle tweaks with the band’s sound on Electric Fireball Tomorrow. Instead of the organic composition of guitar, keys, bass, drums, there’s something far more electronic and cool to their sound, an ironic tribute to their time in technological isolation.
“Our time [in Asheville] really defined [the album’s] sound,” Dan said. “All the ideas grew out of those months. The level of focus was so intense and deep, I think we were in a place creatively that is hard to reach otherwise.”
This isolation led to the birth of “grandwave,” a musical genre of Dan’s own that encompasses the new direction of England in 1819’s rich sound and musical texture. Combined with Dan’s previous dabbling in electronic music throughout high school and his time at Oberlin, it seems that grandwave was only meant to be a part of England in 1819’s natural music evolution.
“We made it up,” Callaway laughs. “It defines us pretty well though. When England in 1819 started, it was more classical, more epic, long songs with huge crescendos and swells. We use electronic drums and synths now too, but the combination of those two things is what makes our sound. Still big, still swells, lots of ups and downs but all of it over a bed of chillwave electronics: grandwave. The electronics have always been there, but it took them a little bit to make an appearance.”
The energy of touring also influenced the grandwave sound that 1819’s taken on. After touring for two years, the unique and awesome sense of “energy and life” at a venue started to seep into the band’s musical subconscious, changing the sound and the setlist.
“We wanted to connect with people,” Dan said. “Wherever we were that night, it was their Friday night. They were out and they wanted to have fun. And it was a lot more engaging to move with them. That’s the evolution. Over the course of a few months, our setlist changed. When it came time to write new songs, the emotions and feelings I had were different. The other two albums came out of stillness, darkness and solitude. It was a lot of time sitting at the piano and contemplating. But there was a different feeling when I went to create this time. All that energy and life was there and I wanted to capture that.”