Old Mill Park
Comprised of guitarist and vocalist Gabriel Leis and drummer Mie Araki, Tidelands is a duo by circumstance instead of design. Teaming up amid the ashes of a previous band, the pair started using loops to fill out its sound.
“That created a sound of its own, and directed my songwriting for the first couple years of the band,” says Leis. “What I didn’t count on was becoming reliant on it.”
There’s a fine line between a tool and a crutch, and the songs on “Old Mill Park” are responses to the band’s acknowledgement of this fact.
“I wanted to write and record songs that would stand on their own with just an acoustic guitar and my voice,” Leis explains.
This time around, the basic guitar, upright bass, drum, and vocal tracks were all recorded live in the studio as full takes. Only later did the band “get all Tidelands” with the songs, building them up with strings (once again collaborating with the Magik*Magik Orchestra), keys, horns and harmonies to create the most realized and memorable Tidelands tunes to date.
“It’s an actual place in Mill Valley where I spent part of my childhood,” Leis goes on to say of the location deep in the California Redwoods that inspired the title of the EP. “It’s a magical place with a creek that runs down a small canyon to a classic three-tiered swimming hole, and then under the skeleton of the original old mill that the town was named for.”
Leis continues, “There’s something comforting about being there, with childhood memories played out in front of you by the kids there now who are doing the things that I did when I was a boy.”
Araki neatly ties her bandmate’s reflections into how the actual Old Mill Park inspired the more organic approach to the recording “Old Mill Park”.
“The full sound with beautiful layers, yet simple and folky atmosphere reminds us that we all have Old Mill Park in us,” she says. “Old Mill Park is the place everyone has deep in the bottom of their heart.”
Suckers for handclaps will revel in “Dog Named Bart,” the first single from the new EP. Leis describes the genesis of the song, the result of a panic attack. Sad for him, good for us – the song is pure joy.
As Leis describes it, “My friend was getting married and asked me to perform a song at the wedding. I polished up a version of the Daniel Lanois song ‘Shine,’ but about a week before the trip, I had a panic attack and thought I’d better have a backup plan in case the song wasn’t what they were hoping for, or reminded his fiancée of a past boyfriend or something. So, I wrote one instead.”
Leis ultimately stuck with the Lanois song for the wedding performance, but came out of the situation with “Dog Named Bart,” which features the fantastic drumming of Araki, the trumpet of John Freeman, and arrangements by Minna Choi of Magik*Magik Orchestra.
“I gotta give a shout out to JV for altering the phrasing and delivery of the vocals that we all sung together,” acknowledges Leis of Vanderslice’s essential contributions.
With all of the teamwork on “Old Mill Park,” it’s clear that Tidelands has successfully broken out of the box that being a “duo by circumstance” may have put them in. Unfortunately, the quality of the songs – the best Tidelands has ever recorded – might mean panic attacks are a good thing? Sorry about that, Gabriel!
“Old Mill Park,” the new EP by Tidelands arrives on March 3rd, 2015.