Published Jul 23, 2018Archers of Loaf singer and songwriter Eric Bachmann has revealed that as soon as he can finish writing the songs, a new Archers of Loaf album will be forthcoming.
During a conversation with Exclaim! about the marked differences between his relatively calm and clear singing voice on solo albums like No Recover, which is out September 7 via Merge Records, and the gruff screaming he employed in Archers of Loaf between 1991 and 1998, and again for reunion shows beginning in 2011, Bachmann explains that doctors told him to stop abusing his body or else.
"The Archers were loud guitars and I was screaming over that stuff just to give it some urgency," he says over the phone from his home in Athens, GA. "I was 19 or 20 years old and we toured a lot and I smoked, drank, and did drugs a lot, and I really dried out and damaged my throat and my hearing.
"When I went to my ENT doctor in Durham after Archers stopped in '98, he said, 'You're gonna lose your voice at 50. You can't do this—you can't sing 200 days a year, drink a half a fifth of Jack Daniels and six beers and smoke two packs of cigarettes a day and do six lines of blow — you can't do that.'"
Bachmann stopped smoking, doing drugs, and drinks moderately now but, most significantly, he started writing quieter music and singing more gently, first as Crooked Fingers, and now under his own name. He says he realized that he wanted to sing and be a musician until he was dead, but didn't see himself singing righteously youthful Archers of Loaf songs when he was 70. So he took a more understated and timeless route for his own material and, as a frequent Neko Case collaborator in her band, found her approach to singing inspiring.
When Merge began reissuing their albums, and Archers of Loaf reassembled for touring activity in 2011 and 2012, Bachmann says he had fun but, more significantly, he now had a better physiological understanding of how to attack the band's songs, as a singer.
"It came out of my stomach instead of my throat, so it was more sustainable and more rewarding," he explains. "Back in the day, I would sing two shows and my voice would be shot for the rest of tour. With this, I sang with more air and support from my stomach and diaphragm, I didn't really lose my voice, which was great and makes me want to do more of it, if we can write more music. I really enjoyed it. I'd like to do more of it."
Bachmann expands upon this revelatory pronouncement, suggesting that all of the members of Archers of Loaf are onboard with this idea of reforming and making a new record.
"Oh yeah, everybody wants to do it — I just have to write the songs. I'm not going to give them the mellow stuff, but I do have other songs that would be good for a guitar-bass-drums setup, I just haven't finished them. But Eric Johnson, the guitar player for Archers, plays all of the electric guitar on my new album and we've never done that before. I'm a fan of his guitar playing and we talked about doing more Archers songs when we recorded this stuff and he said, 'Just let me know man.'"
Bachmann goes on to suggest that in revisiting Archers of Loaf, he himself must adopt an alternate mode of expression, almost becoming a different person.
"I apologize to Archers fans who want it to be more authentic, but in a way, it's like David Bowie — you're kind of acting," he explains. "With Archers, I was a smartass. It was kind of a put-on man, I'm sorry; I was being a smartass punk kid. It's a part of your personality but it's just an aspect of it."
On his new record, No Recover, Bachmann writes about becoming a new dad and there are songs for his son, but they are not the conventional kinds of joyful affirmations you might usually hear in the folk realm. While he does not employ his Archers of Loaf voice, the kind of darker perspectives that band often conveyed aren't far from Bachmann still.
"I would never write a song in that [Archers of Loaf] character about how I don't want my son to kill himself," he says. "It's too sensitive, too personal. Archers is more detached, more socially analytical and less personal. It's more making fun of Walmart and more punk that way — more social commentary than what I write now or with Crooked Fingers, which is more personal."
When asked if he's recently attempted to write songs more in the Archers aesthetic, Bachmann says yes.
"I have, it's happening. Nothing's easy, but it's slow because I have a kid," he laughs. "I had an explosion of ideas after my son was born and that became this new record and it happened quite easily. And all the other stuff I was working on — the Archers stuff, trying to make another new record [of my own] — it's all coming out sideways and I have to sift through it. But it's not an impossible thing for me to sit down and write a song for the Archers. I've got a few ideas that are working."
Eric Bachmann's new album, No Recover, comes out September 7 on Merge Records.
Eric Bachmann plays Canadian dates, including Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton from July 26 to August 5, and returns to London, Toronto and Hamilton in October. Find his complete tour itinerary here.
You can hear this entire conversation with Eric Bachmann on a future episode of the Kreative Kontrol podcast.