For all that great advantages technology has made over the years, it still has a tendency to be untrustworthy. Just as Evansville, Indiana’s Mock Orange. With a career 20 years deep, their eighth album, ‘Put The Kid On The Sleepy Horse,’ has been five years in the making. Partially because the usual album recording time and partially because technology failed them. Having recorded all the instrumental parts of the album at vocalist Ryan Grisham’s home, the quintet put the hard drvies contain the mixes in storage temporarily. However once they had renovated the studio and pulled the hard drives out, they had been damaged. Nevertheless after a strenuous recovery, the album was completed and is now set for release.
‘Put The Kid On The Sleepy Horse’ sees Mock Orange join Topshelf Records, a label with a reputation for developing a range of emo/indie rock bands (Donovan Wolfington, Prawn, Sorority Noise) as well giving a home to yesteryear emo; Braid, The Jazz June and Boys Life. Mock Orange fit into the latter group yet ‘Put The Kid On The Sleepy Horse’ introduces them to a new generation of fans.
The album itself is a dizzying display of alt and indie rock that lends itself to the past and the present with impressive results.
In the lead up to the release of ‘Put The Kid On The Sleepy Horse,’ we spoke to guitarist Joe Asher about the bands hard drive issues, joining Topshelf and more.
AH: Lets jump straight into the album. ‘Put the Kid On the Sleepy Horse’. is your first album in five years but I’m led to believe it would of been sooner if it wasn’t for a hard drive issue. Care to explain?
Joe: Yes. We had assembled a functional studio at Ryan (Grisham)’s house and had tracked all of the guitars, bass, drums and synths for the album. Ryan decided that before we tracked the vocals, but more-so, before we began mixing, we should renovate the studio room and treat it acoustically, so we could properly hear what was going on (for mixing). During the renovation, we put everything in storage. After all that was finished we pulled everything out of storage and reassembled the studio. We then found that the hard drive and backup were fried. No idea how that happened. But we simply could not access our data. Three data recovery companies later, we finally got our files back. This whole process probably took the better part of 6 months…
AH: Have you changed much about the record since recovering it?
Joe: Not too much. We added some overdubs and re-did a few drum tracks, but for the most part we kept everything as it was. We were happy with the original recordings.
AH: In terms of the albums sound, some have said it sees this record as a return to your Americana-infused emo-rock approach. What do you make of those comments?
Joe: I’m not sure. This album is a lot more raucous than ‘Disguised As Ghosts’. It’s more wild, more out-there. There are a lot of big guitars and crazy solos, but its still very melodic. I think it sounds like a logical extension of our evolution of sound. But I really love how it turned out.
AH: I’ve also read comments saying songs such as ‘Too Good Your Dreams Don’t Come True’ sound fresh. What was initial approach when you were writing and recording?
Joe: We always just try to write songs that we would be stoked on listening to if we weren’t in the band. I’m happy to hear that TGYDDCT sounds fresh because I definitely think it sounds current.
AH: Having heard the album, it takes several twists and turns. For example comes off as rather blues-y whilst ‘Be Gone’ reminds me of Death Cab For Cutie. Did you go into the making of the record with the mindset of keeping people guessing?
Joe: Not necessarily, but we also didn’t put any stylistic restrictions on songs as we were writing them. When a song was finished, if we were happy with it we just called it done and assumed that it made the album. I think only two songs did NOT end up on the album and the main reason was that they sounded a bit too much like other tracks, that were maybe better in our minds.
AH: This is your first record as part of the Topshelf Records family. The label has a great roster of consistent bands, both old and new. What attracted you to joining the label?
You said it exactly; their great roster of consistent bands, both old and new. Also, when we spoke with them initially they were very down to earth and understood our situation. We are really happy to be working with them.
AH: By joining a label like Topshelf, does it open a door to a new, probably younger, audience?
Joe: I’ve been curious about that, actually. I definitely think it will open a door to a wider audience than we have had in quite some time.
AH: For a band that has active for over 20 years, whats the secret to longevity?
Joe: I don’t know that there is a secret. It’s our creative outlet. We all still want to do it so it remains. Sometimes life will happen, and we will take a period of time off. I would love to be able to do this full time again soon, of course.
‘Put The Kid On The Sleepy Horse’ by Mock Orange is out now on Topshelf Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)