Perspective

Let me tell you. Today sucked.

Jacob and I woke up at a luxurious pace and went to work in our parents’ condo’s kitchen over a breakfast of champions. Momma toiled over the waffle iron, making rhythmic injections of peanut butter into the batter in her culinary modus operandi. I added cream to a bowl of eggs, sautéing an amalgamation of chopped onion, heirloom tomato, sharp cheddar cheese into the mix. We dripped a blend of coffee I had roasted back in Anderson with beans from Sumatra, Costa Rica, Panama. We listened to Gregory Alan Isakov and watched the sun try to shoulder its way through wintery clouds over the Johnson Bayou.

We were coming off a whole week of Christmas vacation spent at our folks’ pad in Panama City and left the breakfast table to go to our respective rooms to pack backpacks and banjos, stowing presents and pillows. (Forgive my alliterative foray—my father is a pastor and he uses it the way granddad used butter.) But we threw the whole mess in the van and hit the road.
Sunset on the Bay
En route to New Orleans, I leafed through Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and I’m past the 200-page mark, so it’s beginning to make a modicum of sense. I spun the new Caribou record and highly regretted the fact that I’d already written up my “Best of 2014” article before I heard it. Seriously, go listen to the new Caribou LP.

Now I’m a bad multi-tasker. My psychologically-inclined friends are quick to remind me that multi-tasking is a myth. In that case, I’m still just a bad fake-multitasker. Usually I hate talking on the phone because I miss the conversational cues of face-to-face conversation, and I generally end up just sitting on the couch talking to a hot little device pressed against the side of my head for an hour or whatever. But I’ve found that when I drive long stretches of interstate, I really dig talking on the phone. So today I caught up with my friend Erin for an hour and it was great to hear about her journeys. Then I had a little virtual meeting with one Jonathan Class, the producer we’ve recruited to cut our new record next month and we discussed rhythm sessions, vinyl pressing, creative vision, etc. I seriously can’t wait to get in the studio with Jacob, Michael, and that guy. He’s Richard Swiftian in that he becomes a new band member on every record he makes.

Off the phone, I watched the light the setting sun cast across golden reeds in the coastal Alabama dusk. We drove over bridges that seemed a hundred miles long, laughing at the GPS screen that showed one pink strip of road bifurcating a map of otherwise uninterrupted blue. Gas sold for under two dollars and a clerk waved me out the door without charging me for my cup of coffee.

Nearly six hours later, we arrived at the coffeeshop venue for the night and immediately realized that Jacob’s snare drum and stick bag weren’t in the car. Actually we realized they were in our parents’ garage back in Florida. We waited just long enough in the upstairs common room to confirm our suspicion that zero people would attend our strangely sequestered little performance. See, there’s usually a yoga class that meets up there and after our 7pm “show,” there was to be a meeting for a Narcotics Anonymous group. So I threw the guitar back in the car after a half hour of cussing our luck, knowing it’d be at least a month before we could laugh at ourselves for this. Maybe more.

As I type this modest entry from the passenger seat of the Quest, being carried by the Southern interstate back over our own steps, I can’t help but think about the mileage I’m putting on my new Christmas tires. But I’m a pretty serious person usually, and I know it’s good for my mental health to be able to laugh at this whole situation, even if it’s forced. I was about to vomit tonight I was so sick about our oversight, but you know what? I get to watch the sun set on the Gulf coast again tomorrow. I get to cook breakfast in a cast iron skillet and hug my parents again. A friend of mine used to chant, “Perspective is everything,” and while I’ll bet there’s probably a bit more to life, I can’t help but to admit that it is a good chunk. So I’m choosing to focus on Caribou and free coffee and some really cool bridges instead of mileage and time. I guess today didn’t suck all that badly after all.

Smoke Signals from the Anderson Camp

Greetings from the blissfully autumnal Midwest!

Sometimes I think we get thinking about when life will slow down and we put things off until then, failing to realize we’re all sixty years away from that, and even old folks seem to keep busy somehow. I know I do. Being back in Indiana has been cathartic in a lot of ways. I love having a packed bookshelf instead of a milk crate with rotating ammo. I also dig having an actual kitchen with a cast-iron skillet rather than a cooler and a consistent diet of sandwiches. But in some ways, the grass is always greener and I end up missing the haggard, endless road.

View More: http://tiernaesalleydotphotographs.pass.us/jpgtr
Not to say we’re not still hitting it. From solo shows at the HollerFest up in Michigan and one-offs in Mishawaka and Anderson, to an infamously ill-fated Illinois weekend and the glorious Midpoint Music Fest in Cinci this last weekend. We get to add Sun Kil Moon, OK Go, Real Estate, and Miniature Tigers to our resume of shared bills. (Okay, so they were at different stages. Same festival. Go with it.)

Something we’re doing differently right now though is practicing. Living on the road, shows were practice. Now that we’re mostly just weekend warriors, we’re getting together in the vacant room in my basement apartment (my roommate and I don’t have enough furniture to designate the room as anything) and workshopping the new material. We’re slowly but surely building the material that we’ll release next year. We’ve recruited our longtime friend Jonathan Class to produce our new full-length at Varsity Recording Studios here in Anderson, and we’ll be hitting the faders at the end of January to scrape out about ten new songs.

You may have heard a couple of them if you’ve caught us live in the last few months. “Cave of Clouds” is a ballad of isolation, “The Farmer and the Viper” is an adapted Aesopian fable about misplaced compassion, and “Birth Control” is a new favorite that strangely has nothing in the world to do with contraceptives. And I’m writing lyrical drafts just about every day on receipt paper at my barista job – you know, because I wanted to be as cliche a musician as possible.
Joshua Powell of the Great Train Robbery live in Michigan

I wanted to write you all to let you know we’re still hard at work, and to apprise you of our upcoming Midwestern dates. We’re playing pretty regularly for the rest of the year, and you can see all those dates on the sidebar of this here website. Getting all the way out to New York at Thanksgiving!

Tiernae Salley took some new photos for us of the old/new lineup, and we’re always thrilled to work with her, as well to have Michael back in the band. We wish you all the best as we’re all digging the fall weather together, and we hope to catch you at a show soon.

-Joshua