by Seth Fargnoli ’13 –
Two Novembers ago, a band I had been in for about a year and a half was slowly becoming inactive. We had played numerous shows in the area and were a great group of friends, but like many things, it had run its course and soon it all was over. Without any specific band project to be in involved in artistically, I felt pretty lost. Music—and more specifically, playing guitar—is my one true passion. Shortly after the band broke up, I started recording some new and old original acoustic songs at the Jeff Hardy Studio here at the school, and began to feel a new wave of inspiration and determination. Still, the songs I was writing needed something more. I could hear what was missing in my head, and when I finally was able to figure out that missing ingredient, Our Burgundy was born. The lacking piece: basic rhythm. Inside these raw yet delicate acoustic songs were drums that had the ability to bring out the full potential of the artistic work I was trying to convey. I couldn’t do it alone.
For about two years at that point, I had spent many evenings jamming with a friend of mine, Alex Herr, who is a drummer who also goes to Pomfret. When this new project was forming, Alex was the first drummer who came to mind. Our natural artistic chemistry had been building up after many weeks of casual sessions after school, and was ready for a “band environment.” We began working on songs together, and soon took “Our Burgundy” for the name of our electric blues/rock duo. We never thought of getting a bass player, because the music speaks for itself. The instinctive, yet full, sound that the two of us create sounds the way it does because the message we’re ultimately conveying is that if your art is honest, it’s complete. Adding any other elements would disturb the balance.
Last spring we recorded two EP’s of original songs, including a cover of Neil Young’s “My My, Hey Hey”, and played live at various venues. With the support of friends within Pomfret School, and in the outside Pomfret community, Alex and I worked to continue making music, keeping Our Burgundy alive. The EP’s were available for free online, and they were well received, which helped us get “out there.” Playing live, recording the EP’s, and having a great time together as friends inspired us to take the next step: record a full-length album. We initially thought smaller albums (EP’s) would be easier to deliver to a fanbase, and never thought we would need to make a full-length. What got us to do it was the support from the people coming to our shows, our hometown friends, and the heavy-creative flow that developed over the summer. We had written about fifteen songs, and there was a demand for more from our friends and listeners.
We gathered our top ten favorites of the fifteen that we had written over the summer, and decided to record them together. Using a four-track tape machine in The Jeff Hardy Studio and a simplistic and honest approach, it took few second guesses and minimal takes to execute the recording process. The instruments (drums and guitar) were recorded together and live, and then I would sing over the music—and the song was complete. We would record the songs at night, took one song at a time, and everything slowly came to life. A great friend/teacher/mentor, Tim Peck, mixed and mastered the songs, and before we knew it, autumn had come and gone, and the album was ready to be released.
I think what makes me feel proud about the entire thing is how honest the album sounds. Because it was recorded with analog equipment, and not heavily manipulated by digital means, you can hear the life in each song. For those of you who listen, the emotions, words, dynamics and melodies all come together to tell a story. People ask me what the songs on the album are about, and I tell them that they’re about whatever that individual is thinking about as they hear the music. As strange as that may sound, that is where people will find the most meaning. It isn’t my job to write music that has one dimension in regards to what it is “supposed to be about.” I find that to be selfish. I don’t want people to try and find the meaning in these songs by thinking about what was going on in my head when I wrote it. I feel that that takes away the personal connection the listener is able to have with the art. They should make their own conclusions about what it all means to them in THEIR life. The only story that this album tells is the one that each listener thinks of as they’re hearing it. Trust what you hear and feel. This album is for you, and it’s about you.
We named the album “Itinerant Statesmen” because it is a name for a person who is a wanderer. They’re nomadic and they go from one place to another, whether physically, emotionally or metaphorically. The songs span different levels of dynamic and style in the rock ‘ n’ roll genre, yet they are able to come together to form a cohesive sound, because they’re all unique pieces of one puzzle. This album can’t exist as a finished piece of art if any one of these songs were not on it. It’s an album for the wandering soul. I feel that there is a song for everyone on “Itinerant Statesmen.”
The experience that came with recording this album with Alex is definitely one I won’t soon forget. We spent many hours in the studio writing and feeling out these songs, and ultimately recording them when they had reached their artistic maturity. When you record or collaborate with someone in any form of art, there’s a spiritual bond between you and the others that are involved, and thanks to this experience, Alex and I will always have an affirmed sense of brotherhood that can only be truly represented, heard and explained through the sounds that were captured on “Itinerant Statesmen”.
I hope the music that Our Burgundy has created on this album will connect with you somehow, and will make you think, even for a moment, about how powerful music can be.