Charleston’s Company talks new LP, working through grief

As you’ll see below, the first question of this interview makes an incorrect assertion. This is partially because of an error a lack of clarity in another article, but it’s mostly because most anybody would assume that a band that endured a tragedy like Company‘s would need at least a little time to regroup. In 2010, the imminently charming Charleston pop-rock group had to cope with the passing of its drummer Kelly Grant. The band’s pace never slowed. They released their first EP about a month after his death. Their full-length debut Holy City soon followed. Now, Company return with Dear America, their most absorbing album to date. Bright indie rock blasts a la Big Star combine with a subtle twang and a laid-back, but insistent sense of rhythm. No release date has been set, but the album is planned for release on Exit Stencil this spring. Shuffle’s Jordan Lawrence caught up with frontman Brian Hannon to discuss the new record.


Shuffle: With the passing of Kelly Grant and the subsequent hiatus you took, how strong do you feel the group is now? How well have you re-grouped? Has the adversity made you a stronger outfit?

Brian Hannon: Co. never took a hiatus after Kellys death. He died in Dec. 2010, and our first EP was released on Fat Possum in Jan. 2011. By then, we were already working with Exit Stencil, and we released Holy City a few months later and did a national tour. All the material on these two records was recorded before Kelly’s passing. Dear America is the first album recorded without him on drums. Since Kelly, I have been through two different drummers and three different bass players. I would like to think that working through tragedy has made us stronger, but I don’t know . . .

Shuffle: I’m intrigued by the way Dear America combines myriad tangents of indie rock — both old and new. Is that something that you were going for? If so, what drew you to such a wide swath of mostly indie styles?

BH: Thank you so much! I definitely intended for Dear America to be an indie rock record; I consider Co. to be an indie rock band, though I think being considered “indie” is a title you earn. I’ve always been drawn to indie rock, it’s a life long obsession.

Shuffle: The title of the record directly addresses your country, and the title track is written almost as a letter to it. What is it that you’re trying to say to America?

BH: I’m saying, “Dear America, stay wasted/ Throw your credit cards in the air/ Do you really think we were waiting for the walls to come tumbling down?” I want to avoid explaining this sentiment. That would take pages and pages . . . I would rather just let the words/music speak for itself. I’m just trying to express myself through my art.

Shuffle: The majority of the record doesn’t really strike me as political. Are you worried about giving the record a title that may give people the impression that it is political before they listen to it?

BH: I’m not worried at all. I think the political climate is ripe for Dear America. 2012 should be an interesting year for so many reasons, and I think Dear America sends a message a lot of people will identify with. And hopefully jam out to!

Shuffle: I know you had an EP last January, but with the setbacks you’ve faced, how satisfying does it feel knowing you’re about unveil this LP?

BH: It feels great to get this record out. I don’t view it as just another record we’re putting out, I view it as a culmination of efforts and sacrifice dating back years and years. It has taken so long to get to this point, and I am so grateful to finally get this chance.

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