GANG OF SIX Poorman (seated) and his mates.
"We don't really have a plan for the band. All we are concerned with at the moment is writing songs that we love and having some fun. If it takes off — great, and if it doesn't, no one is going to be upset.
"We aren't out to prove anything."
That was Mike Poorman, drummer for the Tower & the Fool early last year when he and I sat down over beers and discussed their promising 2010 debut EP, XIII. A highly-productive 18 months has yielded the T&F's fantastic full-length debut, How Long.
What started as a side project for vocalists/guitarists Alex Correia and Chris Rosenquest has blossomed into a full six-piece lineup. The new LP (out this week) is studded with melodic, radio-ready heartbreakers with indie-Americana leanings. We already have this one penciled in as an Album of the Year nom. Pick up a copy at this weekend's CD release show or hit up RunforCoverRecords.com for limited How Long combo packs including a deluxe vinyl version with a 120-page book of photos, lyrics, and extras.
Poorman and the guys were all smiles onstage at Fête a few weeks back as one of the headliners of the club's successful "State of the Union" series, pulling out stunning renditions of "Breach" and "Fade Away" (both on the EP and carried over on the new disc). Poorman is a genuine, ever-humble dude who has a real problem tooting his own horn, so it's all the more revealing when he proudly declares, "I think we are pretty fired up about all of these songs."
I asked if he had any favorites he's looking forward to pulling out.
"There's a handful of we have yet to unleash onstage, but I personally like playing 'Broken' and 'My Heart Is Dead In NYC,' " he said. "The lyrics always catch me in such a way that the songs never get old to me."
Buffalo Tom's Smitten immediately came to mind on the mellower "Valentine's Day" and the title track. Rosenquest's raspy delivery steals the show on "Breach," easing his way into the line, "Got a problem, she said/I don't believe in love anymore." Correia is "stumbling out of bars" and "chasing down Kerouac's American dream" on the ballad "Broken" and basks in melancholy on "Fade Away" with the plaintive line, "I won't let myself get over you." But it's the album opener "Dive Bar" that has me hooked. This one should be all over the radio by summertime.
The album was recorded at Poorman's Strangeways Studios, which he recently closed up ("I am still recording out of other studios and it's been fun for me again without having all of the stress about making my overhead every month and such," he said). He recalled a more unified recording process this time around.
"When we started writing the LP, Alex and Chris brought in songs like they did for the EP, but this time we workshopped them as a band and really critiqued every nuance of every song," Poorman said. He also credits the addition of bassist Bryan Donahue, who joined during the initial writing process for How Long: "Bryan changed the color and sound of the band," he noted. Lead guitarist Chris Capaldi and keyboardist Zac Clark round out the sextet (which was voted "Best Rhode Island Band" at the recent New England Music Awards).