Save the Arcadian is a Fredericksburg, Virginia-based band that’s been making a great impression on the local scene with a bouyant sound that’s earned comparison to the likes of Belle and Sebastian, The Head and The Heart and Dave Matthews Band. The group’s live show is a joyful celebration of folk-pop Americana from six talented players – Will McCarry (vocals/guitar), Sam Rodgers (guitar/mandolin/vocals), Russell Michelson (piano/vocals), Bryan Chase (drums), Lavar Edmonds (violin/cello) and Lonnie Southall (bass) – that’s taken them to the semi-finals of Jammin Java’s Mid-Atlantic Band Battle and to the Grand Prize at Empire’s 2014 Summer Battle.
The group has two self-released works to its name (which is a reference from the “How I Met Your Mother” TV series) – a 10-track album, “How’d They Get Up There?” from 2013, and this year’s “That Bright Tide” EP, both of which can be heard and downloaded (for free, or donation) at Bandcamp.
In late December, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Save the Arcadian will be going to North Carolina’s Fidelitorium recording studio, where artists like R.E.M, Ben Folds Five, and Wilco have recorded, to work with producer Ted Comerford (Jukebox the Ghost) along with a Grammy-nominated mixer and other industry insiders to craft its new full-length album.
There are still two weeks to go in the campaign (it ends December 10), but the band has just passed its goal of $4,000, intended to pay for studio time, the producer, mixing and mastering, physical copies (initially 1,000 or so) and publicity. Rewards include an advance digital download of the album (only $5), limited edition t-shirt, a CD of rare B-sides, show tickets, in person and Skype performances, even a laser tag party with the band!
In an email interview, Will McCarry discussed Kickstarter, along with some band history and its hopes for the future…
First off, congratulations on the successful Kickstarter campaign. As you go past your goal (Amanda Palmer made it to one million dollars!) what would you like to do with the beyond-budget funds?
We’re lucky to have a really supportive fan base that has already pushed us to our funding goal. Going above and beyond that number will only give us more options as we enter the studio. For example, we’ve had a lot of great song ideas and it’s been hard to cut some of them, so it’s likely we’ll get the opportunity to add another song to the album. Those who donate $100 or more to our Kickstarter will get to hear all the songs that don’t make it onto the album and more on the B-sides and demos CD.
Though I applaud Amanda Palmer for reaching such a lofty goal—and I certainly wouldn’t complain about having those funds at our disposal—I think having that much freedom might trigger some animalistic ego in all of us, urging production of some monstrous Dewey Cox-esque symphony, complete with an army of didgeridoos and a live goat baying in the background.
Who came up with the rewards for backers? Will there be a laser tag game?
In the months leading up to the Kickstarter, we thought long and hard about what our fans would want. We also looked at other Kickstarters to see what worked and what didn’t work. We tried to include a variety of prizes so there would be something for everyone. The laser tag party is, as of now, unclaimed. We’ve heard rumblings, though, that a few fans are considering going in on the prize together—which we’d be totally okay with. It’d be so much fun to play laser tag and talk about the new album over pizza. In fact, thinking about it, even if no one pledges for that prize we’ll probably go just as a band anyways.
From your videos to the design of your CDs, the band shows a real professionalism. Do you have a community of artistic friends who are part of the Save the Arcadian “family?”
Presentation is extremely important to us. We do have a strong community of artists that support us and help make our artwork great—Nathaniel Tonelli drew the lions and bears that grace the cover of our first self-produced album, and Becca Presor painted the watercolor images associated with our EP, “That Bright Tide.” Beyond that, most everything else, the website, the Kickstarter, the albums, and the music video were all produced in-house by our very own Sam Rodgers.
The look/sound of your two CDs is also high quality. How did you do that on what was, presumably, a tight budget?
Thank you so much! The budget on both albums was incredibly tight. The first album was recorded, mixed, and produced by me on one $200 microphone in my college apartment. With the exception of my sanity, the record ostensibly cost us nothing at all to produce. The whole process took me about nine months to complete and was truly a trying experience. I’d argue, though, that it was a process that needed to happen, as it really brought the band together and taught us all our strengths and weaknesses as songwriters.
The second album was a less onerous production, as we worked with two talented engineers, Kyle Crosby and Zach Fichter, from River City Recording. Still, the budget was very small, and Zach and Kyle were very generous with their time, helping us achieve some semblance of our huge aspirations for the project.
You’re working on songwriting and demos now, yes? Do you have a sense of any new direction for the band’s sound?
Working through these new songs for the upcoming record has been a ton of fun. All of us are so excited to share this new material with our fans. I can say, without a doubt, that these are the best songs we’ve written. These new tracks are very important to me, both musically and lyrically. This album utilizes the traditional folk and alternative rock elements of our past collections, while still challenging us to reach beyond those elements of our sound. The fact that a few songs from our EP show up again also plays into the narrative, and many of these new tracks are in direct conversation with the sunny emotional positioning of that collection.
What does the band most look forward to in being able to record in a full, professional studio?
This will be our first experience recording in a studio like the Fidelitorium. The space looks amazing and their collection of instruments and equipment is astounding. Ultimately, though, the opportunity to spend ten days living and breathing music, working with my best friends to craft these recordings is what really excites me the most.
The band met as students at The University of Mary Washington. Were you friends who decided to start a band or musicians who started working together and became friends?
Beyond Sam, who has been my friend since middle school, and my partner in all things creative for just as long, most of the members of Save the Arcadian were not even acquaintances before we started the band. The formation of the band began with Russell and I running into each other in somewhat of a meet-cute. While on a walk with a friend he stumbled across me on campus playing guitar. He walked by several times more before asking me if he could grab his melodica and jam. In the following weeks, we busked in downtown Fredericksburg together, and Sam began playing with us the day before our first performance.
From there, the band grew, and since then we’ve added Bryan, Lavar and Lonnie, all of whom had only a passing knowledge of one another before joining the band. We’re grateful to have each and every one of them. Despite this fact, I now count each and every one of them as some of my closest friends.
For more on Save the Arcadian, you can visit them on the web, Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter and YouTube.