On any given day, I get dozens of emails in my inbox, typically from clients or potential clients, sometimes from friends, and, of course, a handful of messages that are subscriptions and spam. Most of the time, managing email is the activity on my daily to-do list I dread the most. But on occasion, I’ll get a message in my inbox that completely makes my day. This past March, I got one of these exciting emails from the handsome and talented men of the alternative rock band Amsterdam Station, announcing the upcoming release of their first full-length album. In preparation for this monumental event, the band enlisted me for a collaborative partnership.
We started with styling the band for a photoshoot for the album, “The River. The Sound. The Wake.” The band and I jumped on a live video call on a Sunday night during one of their weekly rehearsals to discuss the inspiration behind the album and some of their style influences. As the title of the album indicates, the central theme focuses on the forces of nature, specifically the river as a source of cleansing, forward motion, and the cycle of life and death. In addition to embodying the energy of the outdoors and capturing the tones of the earth, the band wanted to stay true to their minimalist style approach that mirrors other alternative rock bands, like The Killers, Mute Math, and Dead Weather. Over the course of the next month, we worked to compose individual looks for each of the band members that reflected the concept for the album and stayed true to each of their individual styles. Then, on an unseasonably cold and windy Saturday morning in April, the band convened at the Chattahoochee River in Roswell, Georgia for the shoot.
For the next several weeks, the band worked tirelessly to complete the album. At the end of their long and arduous journey, I was fortunate enough to get an exclusive preview of the tracks and learn more about the creative process that went into composing the album.
AOC BLOG GIRL: How did you come up with the name for the album?
AMSTERDAM STATION: The album title first originated from the song “The Sound”. This song has been in our writing room for about two years and was the first song written for the new album. This song demonstrates a key change for our band and the maturity of our writing, with haunting harmonies and a tip-of-the-hat to great southern literature and iconic murder ballads. The River has been an archetype throughout history as a place for the soul and the body to be cleansed, a place to offer up the horrors that haunt our minds, and a place to break free from the demons that bind.
The sequence of the wording is important too. The River. The Sound. The Wake. It equates to the place, the event, and the aftermath. A wake is the tracking of waves after movement cuts through the water. When you approach a river, you bear witness to its constant state of change, and, in the wake of the aftermath, a future that is flux, pushing and pulling against an ever changing present. It’s never the same river. With every action or event, there may be admission and regret, but there is never an undoing. If you come to the river heavy with burden, so much so that it consumes you to the core, then you shall sink and bear witness to the bed you’ve made. But, if you allow yourself to purge, grow and persevere, your life becomes buoyant again, and so you float on.
AOC BLOG GIRL: Describe the creative process that went into conceptualizing one of the songs on the album.
AMSTERDAM STATION: In the song Florence, the idea is that the woman (Florence) is having a conversation with God during her last waking hours. Greg (Vocalist/Bassist/Guitarist) wrote this song while his Grandmother was in terminal hospice care last year. She was at a point in her life where her COPD had rendered her unable to catch her breath, even doing the simplest tasks. Once in hospice, she was surrounded by family, reminiscing and telling stories, all while tethered to a wall by an oxygen container and confined to a bed and a body that was merely a shell of herself. Her soul was still vibrant, but her body had run its course, and she died peacefully in her sleep. She had given their family some scares in years past, but during her final moments, she seemed content, accepting and at ease. This song is a tribute to her and a hope that she’s living in peace with her maker.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s one signature quality that defines the album as a whole, lyrically, musically, or otherwise?
AMSTERDAM STATION: The signature quality of the album is probably the flow of the songs throughout the album. Like a River, it’s dynamic and constantly changing. Every time you listen cover to cover, it might bring you to a new or changing place in your life. It is a roller coaster of emotions, with constant peaks and troughs, instead of remaining static in one music style or feeling. It mimics real life, instead of the cookie-cutter lives we see ourselves adapting to from time to time.
AOC BLOG GIRL: What’s one thing you’ve learned in producing your first full-length album that you’d like to share with aspiring artists?
AMSTERDAM STATION: However long you believe the album is going to take, double it. In the world of DIY recording these days, you need the extra time to learn and better yourself and to allow for the magic of the studio to rub off on the tracks. Sometimes the last minute changes you make in the studio can really be what MAKE a song have that extra sparkle or resonance. Having more time decreases the stress for the artists and the pressure on the creative process.
Amsterdam Station is releasing their first full length album, “The River. The Sound. The Wake.” this Friday, July 1. Visit their website for details on how to purchase the album, upcoming tour dates, and more! If you’re in the Atlanta area, join the band at Smith’s Olde Bar for their album release party tomorrow night!