The album we’ve been working on since 2019 is finally finished! We’re excited to be releasing it, on Bandcamp, on October 26, 2023.
It has been a long journey for us. It feels like the world turned upside-down in a hundred different ways while this album was under production. But to some degree, that’s only fitting; this album started out as an excuse to explore the idea of “Midwestern Gothic,” and it grew to include reflections of the the national apocalypse which was unfolding around us during those years.
Not to make it all sound so serious. We imagined the album as a horror B-movie, or a haunted-house: Fun and campy, with deeper meanings tucked away under the surface.
We named the album after a famous haunted-house which used to operate at Bells’ Amusement Park, in Tulsa, from 1972 until the park’s closure and demolition in 2006.
I recall what an impression that ride had made on me as a kid. I recall the macabre, psychedelic facade, with its crooked windows and whirling eyes and its strange animatronics and flashing lights. I recall the sign above the entrance, which warned riders not to leave their carts.
I recall the stories of my young friends, who bragged about having broken that rule, about sneaking out of their carts and exploring the ride’s dark passages on foot. I recall, too, when we were a little older, their stories about making-out with girls on the ride.
And so, for a “Midwestern Gothic” album which was already shaping-up to have a lot of songs about “the questions” of adolescence — and about the connections between love and transgression — the notion of using Phantasmagoria as a kind of an organizational metaphor was irresistible.
It was appropriate in other ways, too. For one thing, the ride no longer exists, except in memory and photographs. To reflect upon it is an exercise in nostalgia. Likewise, there’s a nostalgic aspect to this album; when one writes songs looking back at adolescence, one is writing about a land which no longer exists. There is a bittersweet quality in that; a kind of death is felt.
But personal accounts of the past can speak to the present; the passage of time might shift the details around, but the emotional core of most human experience remains constant. If someone hears, in a song, an expression that makes them feel less alone, less isolated, then that is a good thing. It can be validating.
(Sometimes I recall being a 13-year old kid, walking home from school, my guts tied in knots over the ways I was bullied that day, seething with self-loathing over things I didn’t yet understand and could not control. Many of these songs were written for that kid, and others like him — not to offer false reassurance, but simply to say, “You are not alone; others have walked this way before.”)
And so, that’s my pitch to you. We present to you an album designed to be fun, and dark, and campy — but of course, we can’t help hiding some actual monsters in the shadows. If you’ll please keep your hands and feet inside your cart at all times, we promise you’ll exit the ride unscathed.
Pre-order now, on Bandcamp, and get the title track plus “Runaways” to listen to until the album is officially released on October 26.