When Chicago-area power pop outfit The Redwalls signed to Capitol Records in 2003 and released "De Nova," in 2005, the quartet had already recorded a well-received indie disc and had garnered a local reputation.
But the release of the poppy, punk-spirited and British Invasion-influenced "De Nova" landed The Redwalls on a number of tours and helped take the band's national reputation to another level.
At least from the outside, things appeared to be going well and the Deerfield, Ill. quartet headed to Sweden to record a follow-up with Tore Johansson, who had already worked with Franz Ferdinand, OK Go and others. But when Capitol merged with Virgin, The Redwalls didn't make the cut. Luckily, the band was allowed to keep its finished record, now released as "The Redwalls."
As The Redwalls get ready to return to Milwaukee for a gig at The Pabst with Rooney and Polyphonic Spree, Thursday, Oct. 18 at 8 p.m., we asked singer and guitarist Andrew Langer about making "The Redwalls" and about not losing the rights to it when the band was dropped.
OMC: Tell us a bit about the making of the new record. Was it fun working in Sweden?
AL: The record we did in Sweden was by far the best overall recording experience we have had as a band. The process was very natural and nothing felt forced. Our producer would not let us take the easy way out on the development of our songs. Because of this, we were able to leave Sweden with a final product that we are all proud of.
OMC: Was the record written over a long period or was it mostly a case of sitting down and saying, "let's write a new record"?
AL: Actually, the record was written over a three-month period, in early to mid 2006. We got together in our rehearsal space after a year of straight touring and over that three-month period wrote about 30 or 40 songs.
OMC: You guys arrived at Capitol with some momentum. Do you think your time with them was beneficial, in retrospect? Did they move you forward?
AL: Of course being on a major label is beneficial to getting more exposure. After recording for a major label we found being able to make records on your own terms and without any interference from a major label is much better.
OMC: I imagine once the record was done and you heard Capitol was ending the relationship, there must have been some anxiety.
AL: The anxiety we had was if we were going to be able to keep the record we had just made. Luckily, after a few weeks of waiting, we found out the record was ours.
OMC: Is the band stronger for having emerged from the Capitol experience with such a great record in hand?
AL: We are in a very productive and creative state, and have already started writing songs for the next record. After the Capitol experience we were able to look back and reflect on the good and the bad we endured, taking the knowledge to help us in the future.
OMC: What's next? Will you continue working in an independent milieu or are there still benefits to be had from signing with another major?
AL: We are touring for the next year or so and working on new songs for a possible EP or full-length record for next year. We will be taking the independent route because it allows us to release music without restrictions.
Some other gigs on tap in Milwaukee this week:
San Diego duo Pinback plays at The Pabst on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. and will certainly focus on material from its new disc, "Autumn of the Seraphs." Opening the show is Glasgow trio Frightened Rabbit.
The following night marks the return to The Pabst of Canada's The New Pornographers, who bring Emma Pollack (of Scotland's The Delgados) and Bemjy Ferree along for the ride as openers. More importantly, Neko Case, who has performed on The NPs discs, will join the band. She was not here with the group last time 'round. Showtime is 8 p.m. The New Pornographers' latest disc, "Challengers," came out in August.
German/English improvisational trio Konk Pack -- guitarist Tim Hodgkinson, drummer Roger Turner and analog synthesizer player Thomas Lehn -- plays at the Cactus Club in Bay View on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 9 p.m. Also on the bill -- organized by Crouton Music -- is Audiotrope, a Milwaukee trio comprising Hal Rammel, Thomas Gaudynski and Steve Nelson-Raney.
Brandi Carlisle headlines VH1's "You Oughta Know" tour, which arrives at The Rave on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Tickets benefit the Reverb non-profit environmental organization. Also on the bill is A Fine Frenzy -- aka 22-year-old singer and songwriter Alison Sudol -- who just recently debuted here at The Pabst Theater, opening for The Magic Numbers and Rufus Wainwright. Her debut disc, "One Cell in the Sea," is a mix of melodic and hypnotic pop music.
Singer/songwriter and skilled guitarist Chris Smither returns for an 8 p.m. show at Shank Hall on Thursday, Oct. 18. The latest folk-blues outing from Smither is called "Leave the Light On."
Former Swervedriver frontman Adam Franklin plays at the Cactus Club on Friday, Oct. 19. Franklin released his latest disc, "Bolts of Melody" in June.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.