When The Del Toros released its debut disc, Come Down, in July of 2010, the band was admittedly an outlet for singer/songwriter Dave Rumsey to record and release a new set of songs. Once the band was formed and the CD was released, however, the group took on a life of its own and transformed into a true band.
Over the past year and a half, the group has built a rabid following that allowed the band to take home four trophies at this year's ABoT Music Awards, including Best Indie Rock, Newcomer of the year, Album of the Year and Band of the Year. Even so, the band is still establishing its identity.
A big step in that process is the release of its sophomore album, Young Blood Rising, which sees Rumsey's leadership help focus the group while integrating creative input of each of its members. The results are more visceral and more spontaneous, delivering an album more representative of the band itself and how it has developed over the past year and a half.
When discussing the record with band leader Dave Rumsey and how his approach has changed, he said that "The songwriting is a completely different extreme. On Come Down, I wrote 80 percent of the songs and brought an acoustic skeleton to the band and told them what to play. This time, I wouldn't even bring a whole song. I'd just bring what we call nuggets. We'd jam on it, then leave it alone for a while and come back to it later.
"Micah actually wrote two of the songs on this disc and Adam wrote one, so it's been fun to see how everyone fits in the process and what they bring to the table," he said.
"I think this is way more representative of us than the first record was," he said. "It feels more like a band hashing it out in a rehearsal space. Previously, I had a specific place where I wanted the music to go. This time, I just let the songs lead me."
As a result, Young Blood Rising bristles with more energy and a different texture. Whereas Rumsey described the songs on Come Down as a collection of pieces he'd written over the course of four years in his bedroom. A number of these songs have come together out of the band's jam sessions over the past year, giving them a fresher feel.
In truth, Rumsey shared that by the time Come Down was released, the band already had six new songs written. After continuing to write with a focus on creating a more rock oriented record than the debut, the band prepared to enter the studio this fall with ten tracks that he called "real barn burners."
"The thing I like is when we're heavier, we're a lot heavier," Rumsey said of the new disc. "But it was missing the heart and warmth..."
With that in mind, the band came up with few more mid-tempo songs that added to the flow of the record. As a result, the playlist ramps up, then slows down and picks up again before finishing on a quiet note, giving it a more natural ebb and flow.
Of particular interest is the opening track, "Kick Drum Blues," which clocks in at just shy of seven minutes. It's a risky move, especially for an opening track, when you need to engage the listeners and draw them in.
When asked why he made it the opening track, Rumsey laughingly answered "Where else was I going to put it?"
More seriously, he explained that "I think the opening track is the opening statement for an album. That introduces all of the elements of the band in one song. Once you start to peel back the layers, you see what all we have to offer. It starts out kind of slow but builds up and by the end it's big and anthemic. That song really sets up the rest of the album."
Once that opens salvo is sent out, the band jumps out of the gate with a pair of more concise and focused pop-rockers, "Billboard Jesus" and "Water", both of which clock in at less than three minutes and truly set the tones for the album.
The Del Toros may have won the award for best indie rock act based on its independent work ethic and the clubs it plays, but musically, its incorporates a mix of garage rock energy and the kind of jangly guitar tones more associated with classic rockers like Tom Petty and The Byrds. Still, when the band hits its stride on tracks like "Not Coming Back," it flexes muscles that the previous CD didn't hint at and gives a glimpse of the energy that comes across in the live show.
Overall, Young Blood Rising is a solid picture of a band on the rise. The growth between albums shows just how much the band's chemistry has come together and made it something much stronger than what it started out as. Granted, it takes a few listens to the disc as a whole, but eventually the layers that Rumsey referenced on the opening track start peeling back for the entire disc.
When asking Rumsey what's to come for The Del Toros, he shared that "I really just want to establish The Del Toros as a band that sounds like this. I don't want to deviate from what we're doing. I want people to get to know this album and what we're all about."
Ultimately, Rumsey admits that long term goals are to keep writing, recording and playing and if the band gets bigger, that's great. If not, he's content with what he's doing now.
"I think a lot of times, people get caught up in I want to do this and this and get this big," he said. "But I love what I'm doing now."
Based on how much The Del Toros have grown in just over a year, it's safe to say that Rumsey and the band have much more to look forward to in the future. As for now, though, The Del Toros celebrate Young Blood Rising with a CD release party at Bob's this Saturday night, Nov. 12, with Fiawna Forte and Penny Hill opening the show. Tickets are only $10 at the door and include a copy of the new CD. Doors open at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm, so arrive early because this is a solid lineup from beginning to end and a great statement of where The Del Toros are headed in the future as the group continues to establish its identity
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