Ben Seretan & The Early - Drive
Ben sends me this 7:43 opus along with the following letter:
I would like to talk to you about some music I’ve made with friends, music that for me gives an audible texture to feelings of warmth, gratitude, and laughing doubled over in uncontrollable fits. Music that I personally think kicks ass.
Just this past Saturday my three friends and I found ourselves unexpectedly free, cut loose from all obligations until Monday morning in a minivan with a full tank of gas. We were in Richmond, Virginia. I had slept on a near-stranger’s floor. Marley the black cat had cut my leg up pretty bad the night before. We were offered unlimited free PBR all night. My ears were ringing with the sound of guitars and crash cymbals.
For me, when adrift in America with many hours of sunlight left in the day, there is only one thing to do: go swimming. We headed east towards the beach. Many hours of traffic later, we were pulling into a state park on the coast of Virginia. The sun was getting low, our shadows stretched out. We saw wild, dappled ponies grazing in the salt marsh, the foal walking unsteadily. Covered in mosquito bites, we arrived at the shore. We dropped our things and ran into the Atlantic, hooting and hollering. After a while, Jake the drummer looks over at me floating on my back. “Ecstatic Joy,” he says. I stare at him blankly - was he reading my tattoo aloud? I have the words scrawled on my chest. No. “That’s what we had just now.”
Back in November of 2011 I dropped everything here in Brooklyn and flew out to Portland, OR for about two weeks. My friends - the ones I was just swimming with in Virginia - were at the time running a house venue/recording studio in a picturesque cul-de-sac in Northeast. They had a yard and a beautiful kitchen, an old rose colored church pew on the porch, and a fully functional recording studio in the little wooden cube of a garage adjoining the main house. They called the place Badlands. My friends also play in a band called the Early, a ferocious two-electric-guitar-and-tumbling-drumkit instrumental trio. Me, I usually play alone, just me and my electric guitar, singing. The idea was this: we would record a collaborative album. Ben Seretan & the Early. My half-finished songs, my singing - their intensity, their place, their collage of sounds and noise.
We didn’t know how to work at first, really. I played them bits of things I had been working on, often revealing the sometimes painfully embarrassing origins of certain lyrics. They listened. We talked about shit. We hung out. We had Thanksgiving together on a table made out of an extra door and a couple of saw horses. We saw our friends play. We stood shivering in the garage playing guitar for hours on end. We wrote together, listened to music on a hi-fi. We drank beers, cooked dinner, went to people’s houses for parties. We recorded. I fell over laughing a few times when we finally got super loud and crazy. We rehearsed for our one full band show. I slept on a couch the entire time. We went to the bluffs to watch the sunset. We did karaoke and walked through the neighborhood. And then it was time for me to go.
The result of this collaboration is “In Two,” an album of eight songs. And it bears the imprint of everything we did in those two weeks, all of the drunken stumbling and mutual affection, all of the positive language and blissful labor, all of that idea that there is an abundance of goodness available to you. And Jake proved that to me again while we swam with the sun at our backs. Ecstatic Joy.
You can listen here.
Thanks for reading,
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