Normally, when a band celebrates the release of its new album, it's an exercise in self promotion: Focus on your band, your new CD and all the work you've put in. When sitting down with Deric Williams of Foreign Home, however, something is different. Yes, he's willing to talk about his band, but he seems just as content to let the music speak for itself and focus on those around him.
That might seem odd at first, but once you start to settle in and get comfortable, you get the feeling that it all comes naturally. Although the new disc, How Strange the Night, is the band's official debut, the group isn't really new so much as an evolution of things that came before. As a result, there's a confidence and maturity that is reflected not only in the group's songs, but also in how it views itself within the music scene.
That's not to say that Williams and his band mates aren't excited about the release of their new CD, it's just that they're able to see beyond the here and now and have their eyes on a bigger picture. Once you dig into the music, that understandable: This isn't shallow indie rock, but a collection of songs that digs a little deeper and shows a maturity beyond many of the band's peers.
Looking back, the foundations for Foreign Home were laid in the band Motive For Movement, which was formed in 2005. As fate would have it, however, Motive's singer departed and Williams took over the role while continuing to play guitar. Chris Davis then joined to play bass, which led Tobie Munroe to shift from bass to guitar, completing the current lineup as Daniel Clark continues to anchor the rhythm section as drummer.
With the shift in membership, Motive for Movement also began to develop in a new direction as the writing process shifted. When looking back, Williams acknowledges that the shift also signaled a departure both musically and lyrically.
"Before, writing worked as more of a collective process where everyone would throw out ideas and try to make them work," he said. "Now, I'll write 90 percent of what I'm playing, which gives us a more focused sound. Everyone else can sit back and concentrate on their parts."
The result is more focused, not just in sound, but in execution. Six-minute songs are a thing of the past, as Foreign Home tightens things up and pares the tunes down to more concise, finely tuned packages. Even the disc opener, "Catholic Guilt" clocks in at 4:19 as the longest song on the disc.
When reflecting on the band's growth musically, Williams shared that "I just feel like we, and I, have become better songwriters as a whole. I think before, we came up with some cool parts, but didn't necessarily write complete songs as well.
That's no longer the case, as the band combines imaginative guitar lines within the context of the songs with Williams and Munroe interweaving their guitars for a layered sound that weaves the songs together.
Recorded over two separate, three-day sessions in 2011, Williams shared that "A lot of people contributed to this record in different ways." Engineered by Ben King (of Broncho) and Costa Stasinopoulos (of Dead Sea Choir), Williams said Cody Clinton was the one that really helped them get the new record underway.
In addition, he said that Steven Battles (of Chrome Pony) was also present and assisting while the first session was recorded at Blackwatch Studios. Williams also credits Nathan Price for assisting, even when it came to moving equipment.
"I view this as a small example of a greater commitment," Williams said. "In order for anyone to notice, we have to work together. To even make a simple seven-song record, we have to help and be able to count on each other."
That's a viewpoint that is reflected within the local music scene right now as well. "In my observations, it seems Tulsa is really starting to grow, even with the local restaurants and businesses -- and I think our (music) scene is a reflection of our growing pride in Tulsa."
"Now, it's become a matter of, 'If you're not pleased with it, do something about it.' It's like we're getting a revived attitude of pride in our city and finding a balance of rugged individualism and the greater good," he said.
That's something that is even reflected in Williams' songwriting as he admitted to learning to find a balance between writing to serve the song and serve the listener, so that he can accomplish or convey what he has set out to do, yet also package it within a framework that engages the listener as well.
It's a balance that Williams and his band mates have applied to the CD release party, which is being held at The Vanguard this Saturday night, August 25, as well. By creating a package show with Scales of Motion and Ester Drang, Foreign Home has set the spotlight as much on its peers as itself.
In Williams words, "For most CD releases, you pick two other bands that are not as good as you. I thought why don't we get two bands that we know are better than us, then put us in the middle and enjoy the night? So that's what we did."
It's a stroke of minor genius as Williams not only tabbed a pair of bands that are good friends, but also represent the different segments of Tulsa's indie rock scene. "There are three different types of music represented: Shoegaze with Ester Drang; British indie, which is us; and American Indie with Scales of Motion."
Overall, it provides a well rounded package over the course of the night and not only shines a spotlight on Foreign Home with the band's CD release, but also provides another chance for Tulsa to catch Ester Drang, who just recently reformed to play Free Tulsa at the end of July.
If you think the package provides a mismatch, think again. Williams hosted a pre-show cookout last weekend for all three bands and anyone else involved in the making of the new record, as a way to show his thanks for their support and assistance. The evening proved to be a simple gathering of friends as much as a meeting of the creative maids and a display of the sense of community that the local music scene is currently sharing. When the show arrives this Saturday night, you can expect more of the same, capped off with an amazing display of music.
How Strange the Night is one of the most mature and confident local indie albums that Tulsa has produced in the past two to three years, highlighted by tracks like "Catholic Guilt," "Pink Noise" and "Knife Fight in a Telephone Booth." The music will speak for itself, a sign of just how mature and confident this band has become, even in its new identity. The true result of that maturity, though, is seen in the band's celebration of Tulsa music as a whole and the community it has become a part of.
Rest assured, the evening will celebrate the release of Foreign Home's new disc, but it will celebrate more than that. You won't want to miss this show, not only to celebrate the CD release, but also to see a trio of great bands locking arms for the greater good of local music. Tickets are available at the door for $7 and the show starts at 8:30pm
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