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Shawn Fogel reconfigures Golden Bloom

Golden Bloom_photo by Sandlin Gaither.jpg

When Shawn Fogel began making music as Golden Bloom, he treated recording as a one-man show, playing everything himself on Fan the Flames (2009) and March to the Drums (2011).
Concerts, however, were a different story. Fogel would be joined ontstage by a variety of multi-instrumentalists, and initially, they were expected to replicate the sounds on his studio efforts.
Today, the studio Golden Bloom is the same as the road version: Fogel now leads a steady, contributory four-piece ensemble, and the group’s first effort is the recently released No Day Like Today.

“I was running out of steam creatively,” Fogel recalls. “I was having a lot of trouble writing on my own and got to a place where I would second guess every idea that I had. Rather than getting a rough version of a song written and then figuring out how to make it better, I would write half a song and then decide it wasn’t any good and just abandon it. I decided that the best way to get out of my creative rut would be to change the creative process.”

Fogel makes it clear that everyone in the expanded edition of Golden Bloom is equal, “and nothing brings that out more than touring.”

“We’re all loading into the venue and packing up the van together,” he says. “Onstage everyone is working just as hard, giving their all to put on the best show possible. Even if I wanted to treat the rest of the guys like backup musicians, I wouldn’t be able to because they bring just as much to the table as I do.”

Fogle and Golden Bloom guitarist Jeff Patlingrao attended Hampshire College in Massachusetts. They played music together while in school and after graduation; there was a time when they played drums in each other’s bands. Bassist/keyboarist Josh Cohen is a Fogel friend and collaborator since 2005; drummer Justin Hoffman used to back singer/songwriter kaylyn rock.

“We all have different playing styles that combine nicely, I think,” Fogel says. “The biggest collective contribution to the creative process is their voice. I started treading water when I was writing and recording as the sole member because I didn’t have anyone else to confirm or deny my doubts. In both the writing and recording stages, Jeff, Josh and Justin each played a huge role just by weighing in on where we were.

“Also, because we had all spent time on the road together,” he adds, “we went into the process with a kind of a head start that I’d imagine most bands writing and recording for the first time together don’t get. There’s a mutual respect there already for having been a band who toured together. At the same time, it’s still new enough for all of us that we’re not sick of each other. We all really have fun together, and I don’t know if that’s true for all bands.”

The seeds for No Day Like Today were planted when Fogel went on a songwriting retreat with Patlingrao and Cohen, renting a cabin in Maine. Hoffman joined the rest of the band in Bridgeport, Conn., at Tarquin Studios, where the EP’s five songs were recorded and mixed (with the assistance of Greg Giorgio) in 15 days.

“That was lightning speed compared to the pace I worked at on my own,” Fogel says. “On the previous two albums, I worked in multiple studios with multiple engineers and producers. This was the first time we did everything under the same roof with the same people. Greg has been working in that studio for years, and he really knows how to use the studio to get the sounds we were looking for.”

Among the songs on No Day Like Today is “Deliver It to Me,” which Fogel says was written from the perspective of someone whose life was near the end.

“While writing these new songs, we wanted to challenge ourselves,” he explains. “I couldn’t think of a greater songwriting challenge than confronting my own mortality.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Golden Bloom on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Feb. 21: Middle East — Cambridge, Mass.
* Feb. 22: The Rock Shop — Brooklyn, N.Y.
* Feb. 23: The Basement — Northampton, Mass.
* March 6: Café Nine — New Haven, Conn.
* March 8: The National Underground — Nashville, Tenn.
* March 15: TenOak — Austin, Texas (SXSW showcase)
* April 3: Melody Inn — Indianapolis

Photo by Sandlin Gaither