In a musical world where new voices are coming from all directions, it can be comforting to hear voices you remember…made even more comforting when it’s music made by your neighbors in your own city. Bangor area quartet the Rotating Taps recently surprised fans with a new album, titled American Dream via Soundcloud. We caught up with guitarist and vocalist Sam Chase to talk about the album and how the band has grown since their last album.
When and where was American Dream recorded?
Chase: We started recording American Dream in September of 2018. We actually rented a house in Brooksville for a weekend recording-getaway. Cory Deshane came with us and helped out with the initial tracking (Deshane worked with Chase and Trusty on “The Pushaw Lake EP” by Sam and Yuri). We ran into some technical difficulties in Brooksville so we didn’t end up finishing the tracking that weekend but the backbone of all the songs (drums, bass, keys, electric guitar) were finished. Since then, we’ve just been chipping away at it; the rest of the tracking, including all the vocals, was done at our practice studio in downtown Bangor. This is also the first project we’ve finished where I did all the mixing and mastering.
It’s been four years since the last album (2016’s Static). How have the band changed since then?
Chase: We have changed quite a bit. In the past few years Mike got married, Jared had his first child, and Yuri is back attending University.
As a band we haven’t played shows very often in recent years. This was partially a deliberate attempt to focus more on making original music and partially because we’ve been busy doing other stuff. We had been playing primarily bar gigs for a long time. That can be very fun, but it doesn’t really encourage writing new music. In recent years we’ve just really been doing it for ourselves and we’ve been having so much fun with it. We jam a lot more. We never used to jam. We were always a structured song kind of band. But now we will play a song for 15 minutes at band practice just to mess around. That really makes the music come alive and it is just so damn fun.
We really just wanted to create a record that the band enjoyed. The fact that other people might like it makes me very happy but the most important thing is that we like it, first. Producing it ourselves meant that we didn’t have to stop working on it until we were completely satisfied.
There’s a wide range of lyrical symbolism throughout the album. What key songs stand out?
Chase: Each song certainly has a story, though I’m not sure I should tell them all…“Porcelain and Ivory” was written after my grandmother’s funeral.
“What You Need to Know” is actually a combination of news headlines that I had been writing down for a few weeks. I just kept waking up every day to a notification on my phone that said “Here’s what you need to know today!” and something about that always struck me as funny and strange. So I decided to mash all these headlines together into a song.
One of my favorite parts on the whole record is the bridge to “As I Am”. The line that says “remember when I’d sing you this song…” wasn’t part of the song at all until we got into the studio. I had written that song a while before and I used to play it often for my ex, because it was her favorite. We broke up while I was working on this record. I went into the studio to record vocals and those words just kind of came out.
The album also contains two shorter musical interludes, how did they come about and how do they fit in to the overall album?
Chase: The musical interludes were intended to tie the album together into one cohesive whole. As pretentious as this sounds, I actually created the intro to the album while I was backpacking in Thailand. We didn’t know what the name of the record was going to be when we started, but once we realized it was American Dream, I wanted to use that as a central musical theme.
The track in the middle of the record, called “Street Noise”, is essentially a mini acoustic version of “American Dream” melodies. I hate to give away all the mystery, but the intro track starts out with the piano from “American Dream” played in reverse. So you hear aspects of the title track throughout the record, but hopefully not in too obvious of ways.
American Dream is available now via Soundlcoud and will be available on other streaming platforms in the future.
The Rotating Taps are:
Jared Botting (bass)
Mike Wellilngton (drums)
Yuri Trusty (keys/vocals)
Sam Chase (guitar/vocals)