The third studio album by The Explorers Club was originally supposed to be the band’s last before the members moved on to other projects.
Instead, the upcoming collection represents a new chapter for the Charleston, S.C.-bred pop-rock group known for its retro leanings and intricate harmonies.
In March 2013, the Charleston City Paper ran a story announcing the end of the group along with its plans to record a final album featuring covers and originals that Explorers Club leader Jason Brewer predicted at the time would be “some of our best-sounding stuff in terms of fidelity.”
“Half of the band was still clicking with the vision, and the other half of the band wasn’t locking in with that,” Brewer recalls today, adding that he “wasn’t inspired to write new material” for that version of the band.
But by May 2014, Brewer was singing a different tune, telling the Charleston City Paper that The Explorers Club would carry on. Looking back at that decision, he admits that drummer Kyle Polk and keyboardist Paul Runyon, who both played on the band’s second album, 2012’s Grand Hotel, talked him into doing it.
With the exception of two songs, Brewer says writing the material for Together (due June 24) “happened in a super-quick burst, maybe two to three months at the most.” Once he had a batch of chord progressions, melodies and ideas for lyrics, he contacted friend Emeen Zarookian, a Los Angeles-based composer, “for help filling in the gaps and getting some verses down.”
Tracking Together began in late 2014 with a single session at Reel Recording in Nashville, Tenn., which has been Brewer’s home for the past two years (other members of the current lineup live there, too, as well as in Charleston and Atlanta). Subsequent sessions at Reel took place in the spring and summer of 2015.
“I think we spent a total of 10 days in the studio,” says Brewer, pointing out that some instrumental overdubs were done at his house and in L.A. “We did the basic tracks to analog tape, with the whole band playing together in the same room, and we did harmony vocals together as a group with one or two microphones.”
The Beach Boys flavor found on previous Explorers Club releases is evident once again on Together, most noticeably on “California’s Callin’ Ya.”
“I still feel that we’re probably the only band out there doing what we do in the way that we do it,” Brewer says. “I still look at our project as a continuation of a sound and a tradition, but there are new things to it. I’m not afraid to add new sounds but still keep our classic-style harmonies. There’s a drum machine on a couple of songs on this record; we use automation in the mixing.
“I feel like there’s so much you can do with your basics, and there are still great songs to be written, so I don’t feel limited.”
— By Chris M. Junior
The Explorers Club on tour (schedule subject to change):
• June 29: The Grey Eagle — Asheville, North Carolina
• June 30: Sellersville Theater — Sellersville, Pennsylvania
• July 1: Monty Hall — Jersey City, New Jersey
• July 2: Rockwood Music Hall — New York
• July 3: Pro Re Nata Farm Brewery — Crozet, Virginia