When Mike McFadden and the rest of Animals Years set to work recording their new album, the experience was both old and new. Old because McFadden has been writing and recording solo for years, sculpting his distinctive bright and anthemic songs. New because now he has a full band and all the right kind of attention.
“The way I work, I wasn’t in any rush to record that last album,” McFadden told FDRMX. “I was living in Baltimore and working. Some of those songs, the guitar was recorded a year after the drums were recorded.” McFadden’s brand of songwriting is dense, full of accents and flourishes. He build his songs like houses. The drums are the foundation, they came first. Then came bass, guitar and vocals, all on his own. The end result, Sun Will Rise, is a poised and optimistic album, bursting with McFadden’s soulful, bluesy lyrics.
“The whole album was me trying to be more positive. Even if the tones were downbeat, the lyrics were upbeat. It was kind of written in a low place, but it was like I was writing a manual on how it’s gonna get better.”
McFadden, along with drummer Anthony Spinnato and bassist Anthony Saladino, are now in the process of crafting another record, but this time there’s deadlines, and publicists, and tour plans. They are embracing the structure and support, but the stakes are high for them. What began as roughly 70 song ideas became 15, of those perhaps 10 will makes it on the record.
The first step for Animal Years when they began the new record was a pilgrimage of sorts, to a musically significant place: Woodstock. The trio stayed in a log cabin adjacent to a recording space and spent three days on a mad search for drum tones. “We just recorded drum and bass. There was this hug barn. Gorgeous live room, and recorded drums for 15 songs.” The end result, much like Animal Years themselves, was raw, natural, and sheer fun. Crisp, bombastic drums for a new, bombastic album. “No reverb, no post necessary. No need for a plug-in or After Effects, that’s it,” said McFadden.
Although McFadden has recorded on his own for years, this new process is as exciting for him and the rest of Animal Years as it is nerve-racking. “Last year it was promoting. This year is all about new music. It’s gonna be, ‘Is this a band that can keep doing it.’” It’s not an easy question when you consider that this buoyant sound began in a bedroom, but is now coming together in places like that barn in Woodstock, and in the dead of night in a New York studio.
“I can definitely say this is our second record, but I consider this my first record, you know? There’s so much to it,” mused McFadden. “I can’t wait to hear it.” Animal Years will soon be making stops in San Francisco (Feb. 19), Long Beach (Feb. 24) and Los Angeles (Feb. 26).