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American Scarecrows: 90 percent of this album is an autobiography

American Scarecrows: 90 percent of this album is an autobiography
Photo by Steven Cohen

Minneapolis band American Scarecrows are going through a rebirth of sorts. The trio is set to release a new album after losing a band member and spending two years of reflection to come up with Yesteryear. The record combines flavors of indie-rock with country and pop-rock to condense all three sounds into a world of catchy hooks, but there's a surprising depth to each piece.

Before their album release on Thursday at the 7th St. Entry, Gimme Noise caught up with the three members at their newly built rehearsal space to chat about growing up since their last album and the uphill battle in writing new music.

Gimme Noise: What do you feel about having to sell other things, like being in cover bands, to be able to make money or to be able to get people to listen to your music?

Seth Davin: There's certain things you need to do to get to the place you want to be. We've all been there in our lives; we weren't making much money -- there's eight years of touring between the three of us. $140 a week was just not cutting it anymore in our old bands.

Matthew Broadbent: It's easy to do that when you're living at home with your parents, but eventually you grow up and have responsibilities, have kids, buy a house. Being in a band is not necessarily a lifestyle that supports a family or all that stuff. Now it's a balance between a day job and music -- for now.

Allen Maier: I play in a cover band with Seth's brother called the White Keys. I don't mind having to play other people's music to make money. We do the songs in an original way; it's not done the same way to a T.

Why has it taken so long to get out a new album? What do you feel has changed about the sound?

SD: Kevin [Mayer] leaving totally changed the identity of the band. We were in the position of "Do we push forward with the same name? Do we start something else?" For me, it was figuring out what to do with the with the songs and taking over the role as frontman. It's a reimagining of Scarecrows that we wanted to get right. We had to figure out how to play as a three-piece; it's a different formula now. It feels like a debut album.

MB: With Kevin leaving, we lost half of our catalog. It wasn't that we couldn't play the old songs, it was because we didn't feel right doing so.

SD: There's some old songs on this new album that I have from years ago, and I wrote some new ones for this album. I don't want to do another album like this again. It took a lot longer than it should have, but you really can't force the creative process. I mean, you can, but it's not going to be very good. It was about letting things happen naturally, but still have a fire under your ass.

We didn't want to wait forever, and after a while we just wanted to get it out. Today is the first day that I am truly excited. I had a hard time sleeping last night, because we had just finished the final mixes. I'm feeling very confident, and it's better than the first record.

MB: It felt like an uphill battle -- especially the last couple of months. Just like anything in life, when the going gets tough, if you stick to your guns and get through it, you're better off for it. We, as a band, are better. We've learned what works.

The reason it took so long was because we were going for quality over quantity. Some people rush to put something out, and it's watered down. We have to make sure we are happy and fulfilled.

Does it scare you that you might lose fans within that interim of not having anything happening?

SD: You can only be the artist that you are, so we're not really thinking how people are going to respond. For one person who doesn't like the album, there will be ten who do. The new sound is different, but it's not that far off from our old sound.
 

What tracks do you enjoy playing the most?

SD: "The Uncertainty" turned out really well. I wrote it when I was 19, so I've had it for a really long time, and I've never recorded it. It came together so much better than I ever could have hoped for sonically. Back then, I didn't have the tools to get the sound that I wanted it, so I never demoed or recorded it. "Gods of the West" is also another good one.

MB: "North Country" or "Gods of the West" are both good. "Gods of the West" exceeded my expectations when Seth brought the song to us, and we started working on it. From the start, we knew it was a catchy tune. I was pumped about that from the bat.

AM: I like playing "Outskirts" -- the last song on the album. It starts with drums and guitars and builds from there.

MB: That's probably my favorite to play live as well. It's really energetic.

SD: Yesteryear is really evolutionary. Musically and lyrically, 90 percent of this album is an autobiography of the last six years.

Was it scary to expose that when you were writing?

SD: Sometimes. We didn't set out to do that, but after a while, it was the place to be. At the time that you're writing, you never think about that. I don't write something and think, "I'm going to share this with complete strangers." Now as we're getting closer to the release date, I think, "Oh, man. I'm sharing these stories with fucking strangers." It's never a negative thing. If it helps someone else through a tough time, then the song did so much more than I ever could have hoped.

American Scarecrows will release Yesteryear at the 7th St. Entry on Thursday, June 19, 2014 with A.M. Taxi and the Usual Things.
18+, $10, 7 pm
Purchase tickets here.

From the band: We're partnering with our good friends Rock the Cause Inc. 501c3 to help those in need. Bring a nonperishable food item (Mac and cheese, peanut butter, canned tuna) to our CD release show THIS THURSDAY at 7th St. Entry and get a Yesteryear Release Show poster! Quantity of posters are limited, but helping others isn't!

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