American Music Club comes back after 1O years with love songs for patriots
By Timothy Dwenger
“It was the same old story you hear every day; struggles with a major label, disagreements with management, and conversations with accountants about money you don’t have. The only way we could free ourselves was to break-up,” Tim Mooney, the drummer for American Music Club (AMC), told The Marquee from his home in San Francisco. AMC had spent 12 years being different and innovative in a haze of ’80s synth pop. They had been acclaimed by the likes of Rolling Stone and landed a major record deal with the Warner Brother’s subsidiary, Reprise. Yet in 1995, shortly after the release of San Francisco, they found themselves caught between creative decisions and business decisions. A place no true musician wants to be.
The break-up was amicable; however it was still a break-up. The band members went about their lives and pursued their own projects and interests. Mark Eitzel (vocals, guitar, songwriter) released a prolific 10 albums and toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, keeping the extensive AMC fan base placated as they collectively held their breath for a reunion.
In the summer of 2003, the members of AMC answered their fans’ prayers and decided it was time to test their own mettle. “There had been this talk going around between different combinations of the members for a couple of years. Starting with ‘What if we got back together and did some shows?’ and then ‘What if we made a record?’ It was that kind of thing,” Mooney said. “After a while, I just thought, ‘darn it I’m gonna call Eitzel up and see what he says.” The conversation went very well and Eitzel agreed to come out to San Francisco from his temporary home in Chicago to see if the dynamic was right to make music together again.
“Since I have the studio, we could all just go there and record whatever we did,” Mooney remembered. They had the rare opportunity to record with no particular direction in mind. They weren’t racking up a bill for studio time or having to pay an engineer to man the board. They could just lay down tracks and see what happened. It didn’t take long till they realized that the music they were creating was worthy of being released as an American Music Club record.
The result of those sessions was the first album of new material from AMC in 10 years, Love Songs for Patriots. The album envelops the listener in an intricately produced musical fabric that could be majestically reminiscent of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound if the band let their hair down a little. As it is, the album’s densely layered songs add a brooding element that subtly compliments Eitzel’s understated voice and pensive lyrics.
Eitzel has been the soul of AMC’s sound on each of their eight full length albums since their inception in 1983. In 1991, he was dubbed songwriter of the year by Rolling Stone magazine and he has received countless other accolades from media worldwide.
Eitzel’s lyrics are the kind that make you want to sit closer the speaker. Lines like, “Day-to-day life is something we all know too much about,” strike a chord and make you think twice. The songs of AMC are truly poetry set to music and not in the way that most songwriters do it, in the way that Ezra Pound or Allen Ginsberg might have done it. Dare yourself to read his lyrics aloud, late at night, and marvel at where he might have gotten the inspiration. He sets himself apart by capturing thoughts others don’t think, or more importantly, don’t want to think.
When Eitzel and AMC stop in at the Boulder Theater on November 12 to promote Love Songs, they will be opening for the Austin band, Spoon. The connections between the two bands run deeper than just this tour. When Spoon drummer Jim Eno decided to renovate the recording studio that is housed in his garage, he sold the console to a studio in San Francisco. That studio turned out to be Mooney’s own, Closer. When AMC tracked Love Songs for Patriots at Closer Studio, it was Eno’s board that was behind the glass.
While both bands are decidedly in the indie rock camp, they evoke different feelings. Spoon is a brightly staccato rock and roll, while AMC mixes soaring, melancholy-laced melodies with profound songwriting. Mooney described an AMC show by saying, “At our shows there are people laughing, and there are people crying.” He went on to say, “I hope that the people who come to hear Spoon will like us as well. I think they will.”
American Music Club :: Supporting Spoon :: Boulder Theater :: November 12
Spectate if you Gravitate:
• Nick Cave
• Bright Eyes