Justin Abrams wrote Miles Away with sense of passion he'd never experienced before. The eleven-song LP, available January 28, recounts the tumultuous relationship that took Abrams' songwriting career in a new direction. While the subject matter is familiar, the multi-instrumentalist asserts that writing a record full of love songs was an unexpected experience that changed him as an artist. After reuniting with longtime friend and producer Jim Wirt–whose resume includes work with Fiona Apple and Incubus–Abrams set out to record an album that he claims is his most sincere and heartfelt yet.
Abrams got his start at the age of fifteen, as a member of Nickelodeon-based act Drake 24/7. He moved on to form the indie act Beyond Conception with his brother and bass player, Matt Abrams. While he enjoyed the four-album run with his brother, he felt the time had come to branch out and go solo. At the beginning of his musical career, the Laguna Niguel native sparked a friendship with fellow Dana Hills High School alum Andrew McMahon, lead singer of Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin. The residual advice and mentorship from McMahon helped build his relationship with the piano, which is arguably the highlight of Miles Away.
Confident and full of lovelorn inspiration, he set to work with Wirt at Crushtone Studios in Cleveland, Ohio to record an album about falling in love. Abrams felt so connected with the tracks and what they meant in his personal life that he convinced his producer to lay down a rough cut of “Miss You” to send off to his love directly from the studio. Now smiling about the process (we guess the girl hasn't come around yet) Abrams takes pride in the fact that this album allowed him to work through musical arrangements and focus on his piano. The album is a well thought out body of work that's easy on the ears. Abrams' hopes this cathartic experience serves as a fuse to ignite the career he's been building for several years.
On being mentored by Andrew McMahon
He's one of the few people that gave me a substantial amount of feedback and ideas. One of the first times we hung out he showed me the twelve bar blues on the piano. It was like having food for the first time, it was such a big deal for me. I had been a classical and jazz trained pianist, and having Andrew show me the twelve bar blues really opened me up to a new side of music. I was only fifteen or sixteen at the time, and was already such a huge fan of Something Corporate. It's great to stay in touch and be on a personal level throughout their career. It's nice to have an inside perspective.
On writing an album full of love songs
The whole record is the story of the course of a relationship. Everything–falling in love, losing the relationship, and then trying to get her back again. It was a roller coaster, and I'd had no intention of making a record like this. These songs came out of necessity for me. I wrote these songs for her, all around trying to communicate with her. It's something I thought would never happen. At the very least this album is genuine.
If there’s music or art involved, she’ll take a chance on it.