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THE YEAR THAT WAS: 2011

Indie musicians look back — and ahead

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Almost getting arrested for a raucous, early morning snowball fight in New York City. Fearing a premature death while staying at a New Jersey motel. Driving for miles in the midwest, delirious from a gig and oblivious to a dragging muffler. Allowing a rhythmically challenged drunk woman to guest on percussion.

It certainly wasn’t a dull year for Echogram (above), The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, i am Love and Nathan Mathes, who are among the independent bands and musicians offering their memories (music-related and otherwise) of 2011, plus predictions for 2012.
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* “Our best memories of 2011 are a little hazy, but there were some fine times had making “Recession Girls.” We didn’t learn any important lessons this year, so we feel it’s premature to make resolutions. But in 2012, we’re hoping to pull in at least $50 million by the end of the fiscal year.” — Bryce Aubrey and Kevin Corcoran of Oy Vey
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* “My prediction for this upcoming year: Goodbye, Lady Gaga…hello, Lucas — and hopefully a Josh Groban/Justin Bieber collab is in the works.” — Lucas Field
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* “In 2011, we shot three music videos, toured to SXSW, learned a lot about ourselves. In 2012, we anticipate the release of our next album — and enlightenment.” — Matthew Dunehoo of Baby Teardrops
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* “Going on tour in Italy to play in strange places and eat some fantastic food. Our GPS had the funniest pronunciations of Italian streets and places, which always cracked us up. Playing in the U.K. for mostly ecstatic crowds. Finishing the album, after an endless year of recording/mixing. No lessons learned here, either; I keep making the same mistakes over and over. However, I will keep writing better/more relevant/emotional songs in the future.” — André Brorsson of Stars in Coma
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* “I think our best achievement this year is the video [for ‘Conspiracy’]. From original concept to final execution, I think we got it just right.
“Probably the most fun memory from 2011 is nearly getting arrested in New York for a snowball fight! It was 2 a.m. on a Saturday night, we had just left an Irish bar, the streets were blanketed in snow and one thing led to another…the cop who spoke to us said he’d got 10 calls about us because of all the noise we were making! We couldn’t help ourselves; snow is a novelty in Ireland.
“I don’t know if we have any specific resolutions or predictions for the new year, but I do think 2012 is going to be a big year for us though.” Killian Pettit of Echogram
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* “My fondest 2011 memory was the 3,000-mile, seven-day, 12-person tour with The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, Golden Bloom and Neutral Uke Hotel all piled in a single van. We only stayed in one motel — in New Jersey — that we expected to be killed at, and we didn’t even find a single blanket spotted with a questionable brownish color (which happened the previous year). I look forward to get a bunch of new songs done in 2012 before the world ends.” — Michael J. Epstein of The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library
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* “For Lachi & Meridian Gold, 2011 has been a milestone — in this year, I’d gone from just Lachi to Lachi & Meridian Gold! We released our pop single ‘Bug Out’ with a very fun, acclaimed music video, as well as putting together and conquering a very successful South Atlantic tour and Kickstarter campaign. We released the single ‘Such a Fool,’ and earlier this year, I released ‘Time Heels’ for a Japan relief effort. So yes, it’s been an awesome, great year in music for us!” — Lachi
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* “We released our albums The Quickening and The Quickening B-Sides — these, along with the video for the song ‘It’s Then You’ll Know,’ helped really put us on the radar. We played our first festival, got our first print review, our first film placement and launched [our own] iPhone app. It was an awesome year! Our prediction for 2012: [an] even more amazing [year] than 2011.” — The Morning Birds
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* “This year, our bass player, Robbi, totaled the van against one of the main city police buildings. Nobody got hurt, but insurance didn’t pay for a new one … next year’s resolution: renting vans, everyone but Robbi driving.” — Sandro Amabili of Forty Winks
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* “2011 was the year that The Valery Trails conquered the tyranny of distance and managed to record our debut album, Ghosts and Gravity, coordinating recording sessions in Texas and Australia, and mixing in New Zealand. We’ll be releasing it in 2012, and our resolution is to figure out how to get all band members on one continent at the same time so we can play a show.” — Singer/guitarist Andrew Bower
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* “Favorite musical memory from the past year: allowing a drunken lady named Candi to play shaker on a song at a show of mine at a local bar. Her timing was terrible, and we weren’t together on a single beat the entire song, but the bar was so noisy and the patrons so uninterested that it really made no difference.
“Biggest accomplishment of the past year: having some of my songs featured on the MTV reality shows Chelsea Settles and Friendzone. It’s a great feeling knowing that my music may play a small role in determining whether or not Chelsea loses weight, and whether or not those couples who were introduced to each other on Friendzone have long, happy, meaningful lives together.
“New Year’s resolution: to somehow become part of the 1 percent. New Year’s prediction: I will not become part of the 1 percent.” — Nathan Mathes
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* “We’ll remember 2011 as the year we released our album stateside and toured Europe. Next year we’re all going to learn to speak German fluently, so when the police stop us again demanding to see the drugs, we can protest our innocence more convincingly. There’ll be new singles in 2012, too, which we can’t wait to get out to people.” — Spring Offensive
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Gangstagrass had a hell of a year. The Justified season 1 DVD came out and included a music video for our track ‘Long Hard Times to Come,’ the show’s theme song, as a bonus feature. Season 2 of Justified brought in more fans, and was more popular than season 1! But the most enjoyable part of the year was getting to dive in on making a new Gangstagrass album and explore new places to take our sound. Some of the new tracks in production took me by surprise with their sudden awesomeness. I can’t wait for 2012 when we unleash this new batch on the world.” — Rench
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* “For I am Love, the completion of our debut EP is one of the most exciting things for us, but 2011 held so many memorable moments since it’s the year that gave birth to us as a band. We also had our first tour covering 10 states in 24 days. Unforgettably on that tour we played a late night gig in Detroit, then drove through the night to open a street festival in Milwaukee. On the ride the muffler on our van fell off — too delirious to notice, we drove half of the trip with it dragging on the road. In 2012, we hope to bang out a full-length and see most of North America — or have most of north America see us, I should say!” — Joshua Christopher
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* “Aside from finishing a couple albums of my own work with Silverhawk and my solo stuff, I really enjoyed being a part of all the CD releases and showcases I was involved in alongside the other artists whose albums I produced last year when I was operating the MastanMusic Studio in Portland, Oregon. It was also pretty cool to have the Silverhawk tune ‘Rock n Roll Heart’ placed in the Showtime TV show Shameless.” — Singer Sam Densmore
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* “Through forgotten words and snapped strings, it’s still been easy to survive because the joy I take from music is one I can’t describe. And I’ll do my best into 2012 to bring the world that joyful vibe.” — Singer/songwriter David Goss
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* “Highlights of 2011 [included] completing licensing deals with five major companies, finding an excellent press plugger and sealing a deal with the Animal Farm label to record and release four singles, with the first one to be released at the end of February. Between January and May, I will be gigging four nights a week, every week, all over the U.K. on a mammoth tour arranged by Animal Farm. It’s gonna be a busy year. Bring it on!” — Franco of Franco and The Dreadnought

— Compiled by Chris M. Junior