Few bands can claim to have more impressively rural credentials than Party Of The Sun. The New Hampshire-based duo record much of their material on a sheep farm, and the thread of Americana runs throughout the music they produce. The pair, consisting of songwriter Ethan McBrien and producer/multi-instrumentalist Rory Hurley first started playing music together back in 2006, forming Party Of The Sun in 2015, and going on to release a five-song EP Lay Low, a full-length album Trekker, and a series of well-received singles. Last week the pair shared their latest offering, Goldenwood, a five-track EP written between the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2019, a time when the band were touring regularly, and seeking to add more dynamic tracks suited to the live stage.
Continuing the agricultural narrative, the record was at least partly inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s book, One Straw Revolution. Fukuoka’s book is described as both an introduction to natural farming as well as a spiritual memoir of a man whose innovative system of cultivating the earth reflects a deep faith in the wholeness and balance of the natural world. Ethan was thinking about the book when they went in to record the tracks that would become Goldenwood, “when we revisited the songs this winter, I was thinking about how absorbing knowledge like that takes a lifetime”.
Goldenwood seems to fit neatly into the lineage of American songwriters, who seek to not just tell the stories but paint the pictures of their country. Like William Tyler or Leo Kottke, Goldenwood seeks to replicate the vast skylines and winding roads of America, musing on how it came to be, and where it might be headed next. Even as the record detours from traditional Americana into elements of indie-folk and psychedelic explorations, Ethan’s precise, half-whispered vocal tones root you into a sense of place, that is unmistakably his home.
Following that release, Ethan has taken some time to answer our questions, talking influences, recording processes and the importance of “valuing art in your community”.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Party Of The Sun?
My name is Ethan McBrien, I am the singer and songwriter for the group. POTS is also Rory Hurley who writes, plays lots of instruments and produces/engineers the effort. We’ve been playing and recording with Garrett Cameron this past year who plays drums and bass.
FTR: You’ve just released your new EP, Goldenwood, what can you tell us about recording it?
We recorded it in various rooms in my home and in Rory’s.
FTR: What did you do differently with this EP compared to previous records?
We reworked these songs a bit more than others. These are on the older side of the repertoire.
FTR: Who are your influences as a band? What were you listening to when you wrote this record?
Rachel Allen and Olivia Bregani. If I remember right, I was listening to Kurt Vile’s “Waking on a Pretty Day” a whole lot when these songs were coming through.
FTR: It’s obviously a strange world to be releasing the album into, how has the pandemic affected your plans?
As a band, we’ve been focusing on recording, building songs for our next full-length album.
FTR: What’s the best way for people to support musicians at this time?
Purchasing merch through Bandcamp, (or as directly as possible) talking to friends, sharing new stuff word of mouth…and… valuing art in your community.
FTR: Once you can get back out on the road, what can people expect from the Party Of The Sun live show?
I’d imagine they’ll be some jams, some high energy.
FTR: Why do you make music?
It’s one of my contributions to the revolution and I believe in art.
FTR: Do you have any other creative outlets beyond music?
Writing and gardening are the other big ones currently.
FTR: What are your ambitions for this record? Do you see music as a viable career?
That people connect with it. And yes, I think art can play an integral part in a sustainable livelihood.
FTR: What’s next for Party Of The Sun?
We will be recording our next album and releasing some videos.
Goldenwood is out now via Trailing Twelve Records. Click HERE for more information on Party Of The Sun.