Bob Dylan wrote “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He famously said he didn’t know if the world was going to survive, so he created a song made up of first lines he’d likely never get to take further. It’s a string of vivid images.
Nick Loss-Eaton did something like that in creating “VFW Hall” for his Brooklyn, New York-based band, Leland Sundries, which gets its video debut here. “The song was written partly in Brooklyn and partly in northern Vermont,” Loss-Eaton says. “The language and imagery came first, and later I figured out what it was ‘about. I finally realized that the main character is a veteran haunted by his memories of World War II.”
Hence lines about a “march into Stalingrad,” where our narrator “carved my name into the barricade. I liked the lines about “restarting the furnace” and having a “mouth full of drywall” that “tastes like volcanic ash.” And then the chorus, “For half a buck I’d shut it down.” We don’t know what’s getting shut down, but this isn’t a need-to-know kind of song. It’s about a feeling, and it mixes images from memory and the present to call forth a complicated life.
Loss-Eaton tells me the video was filmed in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2011, with Micah Friedman (guitar), Shane Kerwin (drums), and Mike Taco (bass). “Micah and Mike are no longer in the band, though Micah and I toured together last year as a duo in the west,” Loss Eaton says. “Sonically, we tried to introduce some noise, including an element of fog at the start with Micah tapping on the guitar strings with a drum stick and a guitar freakout at the end.”
The video was edited by Scott Variano and mixed by Jon Hildenstein.
Leland Sundries will be on an acoustic tour of the Northwest in September, and will have festival dates in the fall, when it’s also putting out a full-band live EP. The group records a full-length CD in October or November, to be released in 2014.
Loss-Eaton, by the way, is a music publicist who has turned me on to a lot of great stuff, including a new album from ace Irish folk expatriate Susan McKeown—just another New Yorker now.