After years of developing into one of OC’s veteran indie rock bands, the stars are finally beginning to align for Bristol to Memory. Anyone following the trajectory of this Santa Ana four-piece knows the momentum they’ve gained over the past 15 years, sweating it out on stages all over the country and cultivating a diehard fan base here at home since 2005. With the recent addition of guitarist Daniel Wonacott (formerly of Finch), the band’s stepped up their game even more with the birth of a brand new forthcoming album Wake Up (out in August) a solid step up from their previous handful of EPs and the debut album Animus in 2015. Their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed by Rob Castellon, the founder of respected indie label Wiretap Records, which recently signed a deal with the band just in time to release the new album.
In celebration of the signing and the band’s latest video and single for the song “Into You” released last week, Bristol to Memory is hitting the stage at Slidebar tomorrow night for a free show that promises to be a loud, raucous, heart-felt affair. Recently we spoke to lead singer/guitarist Rory O’Connell and about the moves the band has made recently and about the new music they’re excited to release.
What’s the primary step forward you guys have taken on this new album Wake Up?
Rory O’Connell: Just the detail and focus behind all the songs. Of course we always do the best we can and we worked with a few producers on the last record, Animus, that was mostly self-produced and we even mixed the record ourselves. Daniel [Wonacott] had done our friend’s band’s record a couple years back and we met at one of our shows and he talked to us after and said “Hey I want to do your record!” Daniel played in Finch and I’ve always been a fan of Finch and he was into our music and so he came to the studio during pre-production and within the first few days of this record a lot of things were coming together. We just really dug into the finer details of this new record. The title is Wake Up and the whole message behind it is that in this world of madness we live in, it’s about being aware of your surroundings and living in the moment. It’s too easy to be distracted these days and the record is more or less about being present.
How long did it take you guys to record?
After pre-production for about three months, we tracked it for another two months or so after that. Altogether we spent a solid six months on this record and we’ve never done that before, we usually come in with a batch of songs, track em and put them out. With this we’ve been really focused on doing the best we can.
Talk about the concept behind the video for “Into You”
We thought of a concept of time and space and the complexity and epicness of that. So we went to Joshua Tree and rented a huge projection screen we’re in this massive desert landscape behind us and used the projections of a lot of awesome footage to give the sense of infinity and we were trying to capture the size and scope of what this record was for us, so we went all in. We hired a new director Kevin Garcia who’s done some stuff with Travis Barker and The Fever 333, so he’s already done some great work with solid bands. He really helped create this grandiose feeling we were going for while trying to push the envelope a little bit.
How has the evolution of the new songs translated to the live show?
With Daniel in the band, it’s a different feel, we’re able to play a little tighter and we’ve been working on our harmonies, Kealan my brother has been singing his ass off and within the scope of the record and trying to make it bigger and better, we’re trying to nail all those aspects of performance and just make it more professional. We’re also incorporating some projection mapping with a synched up performance video so we’re building up our production that way.
Why was signing with Wiretap records the best fit for your band?
We did this record ourselves and we initially tracked the record and just focused on making the best songs we could and we played some shows with Wiretap Bands Odd Robot and Radar State and Rob [Castellon] from the label came out to that show and it was that classic scene from a movie when a label executive approaches a band after a show and he said it was awesome and we said thank you so much we’d love to show you this record we’ve been spending almost a year on and we sent it over and a few days later he got back to us and said he loved it and wanted to put it out. The partnership was awesome and we’ve wanted to stick with an indie label and when Rob told us he’d been following our band for a while and watched us develop, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Bristol to Memory performs tomorrow at Slidebar Rock N Roll Kitchen with Shape Pitaki and Odd Robot, 8 p.m., Free, 21+.