The oh-so-important sophomore album. It’s been the make or break entity for countless artists. But for the Atlanta-based band Book Club, their second project, releasing this week, doesn’t reveal any signs that their musical sun will soon be setting.
We caught up with Robbie Horlick (vocals, guitar, banjo, sax, glockenspiel, melodica), founder of the seven-person band, to talk about their latest project, Shapes On The Water.
Tell us a little bit about how Book Club formed?
I started the band a few years ago as an outlet to flesh out some of the “folkier” songs I was writing, that didn’t seem to fit with the sound of Cassavetes, the indie rock band I was in at the time. Cassavetes’ influences were broad, and we treated the vocals as much as an instrument as the piano or guitar, which was often delayed or distorted. The new songs I was writing were simpler, quieter and more anchored by the lyrics. I asked my friend Leigh Anne to work on some harmonies, and we got a few songs together. Before long, we’d cobbled together a few friends and craigslisters – cello, upright bass, percussion – and became Book Club.
For those who haven’t heard you, how would you describe your sound?
I’ve always said that Book Club “builds out from folk.” The songs can stand alone as guitar-and-vocal performances, or they can build and swell with percussion, bass, cello, violin, banjo and pedal steel. One of the wonderful things about Book Club is how well the music supports the vocals/harmonies. Since we’re essentially all acoustic, no one has to “turn up” to be heard, and as a result, all of the instruments, and vocals blend together very naturally.
How has our region’s culture impacted your art?
I think “Southern culture” is more diverse and vibrant than ever these days. There are so many approaches and facets to it, it’s impossible to define. And that impossibility makes the potential for art limitless, which carries over to the Atlanta music scene. There is no singular “Atlanta sound.” The bands that have made it out, the bands that haven’t, the bands that aren’t trying to – we all just do whatever we’re inspired to do. I think Southern culture inspires the attitude that there’s no wrong way to make art. And that’s very liberating and makes for some pretty amazing results.
How is the new EP different from your first project?
We recorded our first full-length album, Ghost, when we were just coming together as a band. I think it’s a great snapshot of where we were at the time, and what we were becoming, but after a year of playing and writing together, I think our sound has really crystallized on this new record. We’ve had a chance to really grow as a band, get tighter musically and incorporate more elements (like percussion, violin and pedal steel) that our first record only hinted at. Though Shapes On The Water is only an EP, it has the gravity and cohesion of a full album. I think it continues on the trajectory set by Ghost, but also shows where we’re going and how we’ve evolved.