Animal Years - Mike McFadden / by E

Catch an interview with Animal Year's Mike McFadden to see how he describes their sound, check out the debut album Sun Will Rise.

How did the band get together?

Mike McFadden: Well, I was living in Baltimore and actually had recorded this record there and wrote all the music for it and I was performing under the name Mike McFadden, my own name, and I knew Anthony, the bass player, was living up here and he called and said "why don't you come give New York a try" and I went up there and re-released the album and gave the band a different name. It had always been 'Mike McFadden' but we decided just to re-brand it, with all the guys helping me; it's still the same thing, I wrote everything and recorded everything, but I had a new group of guys, a new location, and we decided to call it something different. Mike McFadden doesn't really have the same ring to it as Animal Years.

The songs we hear on the album, are those recorded by just you, or by the other guys, as well?

That's just by me. I actually recorded the record for the band before I even moved to New York. I wrote everything and I did all the vocals and a lot of the guitars and banjo and some piano and then I brought in some guys that I knew from Baltimore and they did the drums and some keyboard and stuff like that.

How would you describe your overall sound?

Our sound, you know, we describe it as kind of like Americana folk rock, folk pop; we're definitely getting a lot - with this new record - it's going to be a lot pop-ier. But, definitely kind of like singer-songwriter; it still has the like a singer-songwriter feel, but with some loud guitars in there.

Now that you're working with others, is the sound on the next record going to have the same sound to it?

I mean, I wrote everything on this album, as well, that's coming out and I will be working with the guys - they'll be recording on the record with me which will be a first - but I think the sound is still there. It's definitely going to sound different, but it's still going to have that Animal Years sound to it, for sure. I didn't really step too far away from what we were doing because I liked what we were doing already, so much, so I just wanted to keep it there.

What do you draw inspiration from while writing new songs? Any artists you take inspiration from?

Yeah, a ton. I think more it depends on, there are artists who have influenced my sound, over all, but as far as what I write, I don't go back and think 'oh, who's my favorite artists of all time', I kind of just, like, whatever I was listening to that day - I heard a song in a commercial I liked or I was listening to something on the radio - either subconsciously or consciously, that's what I draw influence from. Or, I would go in and be like I really like the way this band sounds and they're kind of doing a cool thing, maybe I could write a song kind of in that style.

What words would you use to describe Sun Will Rise?

It was just a fun, upbeat record, I think, for the most part. I mean, it was definitely kind of like a motivational record; I was trying to write things that were upbeat and that just were inspiring. I just think I listen to enough depressing stuff - I like listening to a lot of depressing music - I didn't want to bum people out too much with our music; I wanted to make sure the shows were going to be really fun and I didn't want there to be too many songs we were going to play that were going to not be upbeat. I definitely think it was just an upbeat, fun, hopefully, motivating record.

Have you got a favorite song to perform live?

I've always loved to play "Rapture". I mean, we've been playing these songs for a long time and you kind of get bored with them so we like to switch them up and "Rapture", we've stripped it down on our next concert, which is this Friday. We're going to be doing it with just a guitar and a banjo and we do three part, sometime four part, harmonies on it and that's just fun to do, fun to hear, fun to harmonize with people, so I definitely enjoy doing that song live.

What type of tracks have you been listening to lately?

Oh man, I haven't been listening to much. I listen to a lot of talk radio - I play so much music that, I don't know, I like an ear break, I like listening to talking - that's kind of a weird thing to say. I've been listening to The Barr Brothers; their new record is really good. There's a guy named Vance Joy who I've been listening to, but that new Barr Brothers album is awesome.

What do you want listeners to take away from your music?

I mean, especially on this next record, I really just hope they have fun with it. Our shows are all about having fun and people really love to come and watch live; they always say that we're just as good, if not better, than on the record, so I hope that people can take away a positive message. I've been really trying to be positive, stay positive, and on this next record there's a lot of upbeat, kind of just fun, upbeat, inspirational lyrics that I hope people can relate to.

We're going into the studio in early December and we are going to record an EP and we're planning on having a new single out very soon, sometime this Winter. We definitely want to get new stuff out; we've been playing some of these songs for awhile so I think it's time that people hear them, other than at the live shows. We're doing New Years at Rockwood Music Hall; we did that last year so I think that's becoming a tradition.

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