For many musicians, their songs are in a constant state of evolution. What you hear on the album has been workshopped during countless band practices, tested in many live sets, and painstakingly recorded, mixed and mastered in studio environments. What’s been captured on record often continues to change with each live performance, keeping things fresh and interesting for the artists and audiences.
For Lost Lander’s Matt Sheehy, it’s often been a process of taking the complex compositions he’s created with numerous collaborators and reenvisioning them for the stage. Sheehy’s most recent endeavor is an experimental song cycle, new album, and one-man, musical storytelling and multimedia experience all wrapped up and packaged as Aberdeen.
In addition to being a songwriter, Sheehy is a forester, and in 2008 he took a job in Kurt Cobain’s coastal Washington hometown. Living in a run-down, remote cabin, he soon became entangled with an eccentric local couple, and those experiences are now documented in what Sheehy describes “as a rock concert, meets The Moth, meets The Twilight Zone.” Told through song and spoken word and accompanied by live-action and animated projections by Stefan Nadelman, “Aberdeen came together slowly over the last two years and it's changed every single time we've gone out,” Sheehy says. “We watch the way the audiences react to various elements, ditching ones that don't work and dreaming up new ones to try.” This summer, “the story, especially the way it ends, feels like it's gotten to a place we're all happy with.”
Aberdeen is also Lost Lander’s third studio album—“an album of pop songs”—one that features incredible contributions from bandmate Sarah Fennell, Drew Shoals (Train), Brent Knopf (EL VY, Menomena), Dave Depper (Death Cab for Cutie), Scott Magee (Ural Thomas & the Pain), Dana Bouy (Akron/Family), and Justin Miller. It’ll be available on Friday, June 14 to all who attend any of the live performances and then publicly on Friday, August 9.
“Go Missing” is one of those poignant, ebullience-tinged pop songs that’s “been kicking around for a while,” Sheehy says. “I wrote it back around 2007 when I first arrived at the little place I lived in on the coast. I was isolating myself at the time. I had just gone through a breakup and I just took one of my first jobs as a forester. I was isolated, spending days alone in the woods and evenings in a strange town where I didn’t know anyone. I’m pretty social and I don’t usually love being alone. But, at that particular time, I was really embracing that hermitude. It’s the only song from that time I released, appearing on my solo album Tigerphobia in 2008.
“A couple of years ago, after the last Lost Lander and EL VY tours, I started thinking a lot about that period of time when I first started working in the woods all the time. I dug up other old songs I hadn’t finished from back then and [started] working on them. It just made sense to me that ‘Go Missing’ would be included in the batch since everything really revolves around it. It’s kinda the song that started me down this whole journey that took me to completed album (which wasn’t what I thought I was doing at first).”
“This record came together much differently than any record I’ve worked on,” Sheehy tells. “The songs took their time—years—but not because it was a struggle. It was more that I just loved experimenting with them and being in them, so much so that I kept putting off finishing and finally closing open loops that kept the door open for me to come back.”
Drummer Drew Shoals was Sheehy’s primary collaborator on “Go Missing,” tracking “over the demo at Scott Magee’s studio.” Sheehy later “tried re-recording the vocals but I didn’t like anything I did better than the demo, so that’s what you hear. They’re lo-fi, but I think it’s right for the song.” Then to bring things full circle, Brent Knopf, who “also played on the Tigerphobia version and it was the first time we ever collaborated,” “took three improvised passes over the top of the song on Sarah’s piano that sits in our living room.”