The first Phantom Limb record (and by extension, the first tour) was really loud, fast, but mostly a straight-forward punk record. After we got off of our first tour, I knew I wasn’t really interested in making another garage rock revivalist record. I had a few new songs lying around. So, for our second tour up the East Coast, I knew I wanted to add in some more electronic and experimental elements. We added samplers and more synthesizers to the lineup, and doing more noise/drone interludes in between more straight-forward songs. That was the start of the direction for Pastoral. When we got back home from the second tour, I ended up going back to Graduate School with the intention of keeping up the touring schedule. Then COVID-19 happened.
I knew what I wanted the next record to sound like, but I didn’t have much experience recording or have access to professional equipment. What I did have, though, was some microphones, guitar amps, a synthesizer, and a pretty large collection of tapes I found sifting through thrift stores in rural Alabama.
Those tapes ended up defining the sound of Pastoral. I knew I wanted other instrumentation outside of guitar/bass/drums, but didn’t have the money to pay for auxiliary musicians (or expensive plugins). All of the instruments on the record (outside of guitars/bass/drums/synths) came from samples of old tapes. A lot of the tapes that I was listening to were from home recorded sermons, AM radio broadcasts, home concerts, and voicemails. There were also a lot of tapes with music from the mid 20th century, like WW2 propaganda music and big band crooners. Those unexpected finds became more interesting to sample than just auxiliary instruments, and ended up defining the identity of the record. I found these types of samples more interesting because they grounded the record in a very specific place: Alabama. I also liked the ephemeral nature of these samples. A lot of them can’t really be found on the internet (like, I don’t even know who is speaking on Vince Foster). I think the transient nature of the tape samples add an “unstuck in time” nature to the record that I was looking for.
I wrote the songs for Pastoral with a pretty linear concept about death in mind. But, that concept ended up falling by the wayside. Instead, the record ended up being a meditation about the concepts of home, memory, the South, and paranoia. Pastoral’s songs comprise a loose narrative about coming to terms with an idea of home imperfect and kind of sinister, the internet being overstimulating to the point of numbness, and deciphering the differences between your perception of yourself and how you exist in the real world. I wanted to write a record about the South and my relationship to it and its relationship to me, without sounding like Lynyrd Skynyrd. I think the samples on the record ground it and add specificity to its meaning.
released November 1, 2021
Andrew Laningham: vocals, guitar, keys, samples, songwriting
Peyton Winstead: Bass
Rolfe Briney IV: Drums
Mastering: Carl Saff