The last time a double album grabbed my attention? Exile On Main Street. And then Fly Golden Eagle took a shit on my windshield. Quartz, the band’s sophomore release and debut with ATO, has spent the last three years in the lab under a microscope where the trained eyes of Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes) have tweaked and refined the albums impressive 26 track-list. Thanks to singer/guitarist Ben Trimble and his band of all-stars, Nashville has yet another reason to rub its talent in our faces.
Quartz is the type of album other bands wish they could write. Inspired by Alejandro Jodorowski’s 1973 film Holy Mountain (a project both John Lennon and George Harrison shelled out their own money to fund), Quartz blazes the trail in a similar fashion, and when the two are played simultaneously, visuals and music create a psychedelic experience like no other. It’s easy to get lost in the psych-rock waltz of “Horse’s Mouth” where funky gospel background vocals arranged by the McCrary Sisters could very well make all the good girls go bad. Or, you could hit the road and transcend with “Medicine Hat,” a funky strut that upholds the belief that blessings do indeed come in disguise.
After the release of their first album Swagger, Fly Golden Eagle landed a three-week, all-expenses-paid residency in Canada. All they had to do was get across the border, but Trimble had some criminal activity on his record. (If you’ve got a DWI, don’t plan on traveling to Canada for 10 years). “So we were like, ‘Fuck it, let’s just go up there and see what happens,” Trimble said. Believing that there was no way the border patrol officer would shun them, the band made the 18-hour trek from Nashville to Canada and…“they totally shot us down. We had to drive 18 hours back, but those 18 hours back were better than whatever would have happened there.” The experience affirmed the whole idea that the gilded road we are so fruitlessly in search of may very well be where we have been all along.
But beyond these real-life experiences, the band has yet another element to credit the success of Quartz. “It sounds nerdy, but we meditated before we started recording,” admitted Trimble. Tokic’s girlfriend, who works in a rehab center in Nashville, introduced the band to this sort of punk rock/Buddhist meditation leader. “We’d get to Andrija’s [studio] and take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to practice meditating and you know, some days it was awesome, some days it was like, ‘Ok I’m ready to record.’ So yeah, that was an Andrija’s touch and I thought it was pretty awesome,” said Trimble.
Though the band doesn’t have the time these days to meditate because they are busy touring the country with J. Roddy Walston and the Business, they still find their happy place. Last month in Los Angeles, right when Quartz debuted, Trimble was excited to see the number of fans who already knew the band’s new songs. After all, California is a long way from Nashville. But then again, no distance is too far for a band like FGE.
A year ago I wrote about these guys for Elmore’s “On the Radar” column and titled it “Fly Golden Eagle: Learning To Fly.” But what I really meant to say was Fly Golden Eagle: Teaching us how to fly. See what I mean this Friday at Stage 48 in Manhattan.
– Melissa Caruso