The Rebel Lounge

2303 E Indian School Rd


August 18

with JAIME WYATT For nearly a decade, American Aquarium have spent the majority of their days on the road, burning through a sprawl of highways during the day and playing hours of raw, rootsy rock & roll at night. Sometimes, the job is a grind. Most times, its a blessing. American Aquariums songs, filled with biographical lyrics about last calls, lost love and long horizons, have always explored both sides of that divide. For every drunken night at the bar, theres a hangover in the morning. For every new relationship, theres the chance of a broken heart. Its that kind of honesty that sort of balance that makes the bands newest album, Wolves, their strongest release to date.And it nearly didnt happen. When American Aquarium traveled to Muscle Shoals to record Burn.Flicker.Die. in 2012, they were convinced the album would be their last. Even though they had enlisted the help of award-winning singer-songwriter Jason Isbell to produce the sessions, they were exhausted; weathered and whittled to the bone by more than a half-decade of heavy partying and heavier touring. To a small group of diehard fans, they were absolute rockstars but being rockstars to a cult audience doesnt always put food on your table or gas in your tank. BJ Barham, the bands frontman, was so poor that hed been living out of a storage unit for months, unable to afford an apartment in the bands hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina.Clearly, something had to give. Maybe it was time to make one final album an album about failure, desperation and disillusionment and then throw in the towel.As fate would have it, Burn.Flicker.Die. eventually proved itself to be the bands most successful release to date. Critics loved it. Fans rallied behind it. Fast forward 2 years and almost 500 shows later, the band has travelled the world, quadrupled their fan base and reinvented their passion for the road. When the time came to record another album in June 2014, it only made sense to do something that celebrated survival rather than failure.The result? Wolves, which Barham describes as the sound of a band firing on all cylinders. Produced by Megafauns Brad Cook and recorded during a 20-day stay at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC, Wolves was funded entirely by American Aquariums diehard fanbase. The albums 10 tracks represent a departure from the bands signature twang. Instead drawing more from the alternative rock sound that inspired their name almost a decade ago. Wolves blends the twang of the pedal steel with the dark, dirty swirl of two electric guitars, creating a sound thats fit for the roadhouse, the honky tonk and the dive bar. Barham has certainly spent time in all three, but now looks to brighter horizons in these new songs.Ive always written about being the drunk guy at the bar at 2 a.m., he admits. Ive written about the pick-up lines and the drinking and the drugs. This record is more personal than that. Its a coming of age record.Its also a record that reaffirms his faith in American Aquarium, a band he started in 2006. Since that time, more than 25 musicians have passed through the groups ranks. In recent years though, things have felt a lot more stable. Ryan Johnson, Bill Corbin, Whit Wright, Kevin McClain and the newest addition, Colin Dimeo, round out the group, turning Barhams songs into fiery, fleshed-out compositions.With Wolves, which hits stores February 3, 2015, American Aquarium is literally bigger and better.We were legitimized by Burn.Flicker.Die., Barham says. That album was a breakup record with the road. It basically said, This is our last album, this is why were quitting, and hey, thanks for the memories. Fast-forward to 2014, though, and were making a new record that says, We aint done yet.


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