Setting Sail

For many bands, the cycle of music production and release can become monotonous. There is the initial wave of excitement for any new release, followed by an energetic cross-country tour promoting said new music.

But inevitably the strain of touring and playing the same songs over and over again wears on a band, and thus you have your customary time-off period. For some bands it can last years, adjusting to the lifestyle and then finding time to write and record new songs. But occasionally there are those exceptionally prolific artists who seem to be able to pump out recordings at will. Artists such as Ryan Adams and The Fiery Furnaces often release multiple albums in just one year.

Well, in 2006, you can add another name to the list of most prolific bands. Local band Shipwreck plans on releasing four recordings in the next 16 months. Yet unlike Adams or the Furnaces, the WPGU-nominated Band of the Year is sticking to EPs and not full-length albums. The focus is not to release the most music but rather to release good songs.

“Every time we go into the studio we seem to improve,” said vocalist and guitarist John Owen. “The primary reason for releasing material so quickly was to build upon that growth in the studio.”

With this ambitious schedule, Shipwreck hopes to push itself to the limits of its own creativity. And in support of these EPs, the band will be touring non-stop through the coming months, including a release show on July 6 at the Cowboy Monkey for its House of Cards EP, the first of the four to be seen this year. And the live Shipwreck experience is as progressive as everything else about the band.

“We like to play things differently at every show,” Owen said. “We don’t like playing the same stuff over and over again.”

In 2004, Shipwreck released their first full-length, Origins, which was nominated for Album of the Year in WPGU’s Local Music Awards. Since that stellar debut, the band’s sound has grown considerably, and a new bravado is evident on lead single “House of Cards” from the upcoming EP. It’s a rollicking tune that spins a tale of women and adventure around echoing guitars and a foot-stomping beat that builds toward a finale stacked with catchy handclaps and a soaring chorus. It’s a tantalizing preview of a great progression for the band.

“A lot of the songs on the new EP are far more compact, they have tighter structures, better structures,” Owen said.

Apart from a unique release schedule for it’s music, Shipwreck have also made all past recordings free for download on their Web site prior to any official release. Both 2004’s Origins and the debut Shipwreck EP are available for free. In addition, the band subscribes to a Creative Commons license on its music rather than the traditional “all rights reserved” protection. This free form of licensing allows for shared information between artists and is a response to what the band sees as “capitalist-driven” policies of the recording industry, particularly involving file sharing.

This forward-thinking attitude runs through every inch of Shipwreck, from its music and promotion, all the way through the band members themselves. This is group that seems to thrive on innovation. And for a band that is improving with every new release, 2006 should be a good year for Shipwreck.

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