The Wall Chargers have spent a lot of time on the road lately. They’ve been traveling through the desert and mountain terrain of West Texas, New Mexico and Colorado bringing to life a year’s worth of new songs at new venue with new fans and friends. This time on the road has informed their latest album, STARGAZER, which will celebrate its release with a show and album release party on September 10th, 9:00 p.m. at Strange Brew.
SBC is fertile ground for musicians, but live performances can be hit or miss for bands playing original music. “We’re not playing music that makes people want to drink more,” Michael Weileder, bassist, said. This may be true, but they are playing music that people want to hear. Landon added, “we’ve benefited more from listening rooms or smaller audiences like the the Shreveport House Concert Series. That’s one of the best. I’d play there like once every couple of months.” The feeling is mutual. Alan Dyson, an architect and songwriter who has made major contributions to the local music community, booked the band for a Shreveport house concert with funds from the New Orleans Heritage Foundation Grant, a grant intended to give Louisiana artists opportunities to play live. Alan learned about the band when they were still called Engine. He saw them play at a Renzi Center fundraiser. He said of the Wall Chargers:
I was immediately impressed with the songwriting – solid – and relevant. Landon Miller’s vocals remind me of Dylan and Guthrie – both huge influences on my own songwriting. I’d say the writing, which is very prolific, is also very thoughtful without being oppressive. These guys know how to have fun, effortlessly delivering musically and visually energetic performances of both original works and select cover material.
A Wall Chargers’ audience is more of a congregation – an amalgam of local bands and the loyal, familiar faces that come to every show. Whatever venue they name and claim is the sanctuary. Three members of The Wall Chargers actually attribute their musical education to growing up playing music in church: “My mom was a gospel singer, and so was Mikey’s” said Landon Miller, lead vocalist and primary lyricist for the band. Landon Miller and Ben Densmore, guitarist and keyboardist, currently play for local churches. “That’s the only group of people I can find that will come listen to music at 11:00AM,” Landon added matter-of-factly. This is a part of the DNA of this band – spirituality, a sense community, and a tireless work ethic.
As musicians, the Wall Chargers are chameleons who can play separately for church on a Sunday morning, and then play as Wall Chargers on a Friday night, and then play acoustic covers at a private party as the Red River Valley Band on a Saturday Evening. This fluidity means exposure and opportunity. They are bound together by years of playing together in these configurations as well as under the names (plus or minus a few bandmates) Engine and Her Sweet Autumn Misery. Playing at churches and private parties has given them a unique perspective on Shreveport. Landon Miller explained that “the demographics are much different than most people who are plugged into the local zeitgeist understand. Being involved in any church stuff people swear off religion/religious organizations which is all fine and dandy unless you grew up with all these people and they know you when you walk into everywhere. It’s a huge demographic here.”
This latest album was recorded in the Highland neighborhood at the home-studio of Josiah Rambin. The Wall Chargers have recorded bigger studios, but this year called for something different. Working with Josiah has given the band a chance to patiently and deliberately record songs, with the core of each track being recorded live with the option to add other components – additional instruments and vocals – at a later time. This allowed several friends to make contributions to this album. The band’s key contributors are Landon Miller, Dylan Hillman, Ben Densmore, Chelsea Norman, Josh Waldrop, and Michael Weileder.
The resulting sound is layered, deliberate and emotionally intelligent. STARGAZER is haunting and dreamy – an album informed by open desert skies, as well as scenes from movies that can only be seen projected inside Landon’s head. This album is at once whimsical and grounded, evoking the emotional pull of Neil Young or even Bob Dylan’s soundtrack for Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid without being dated or nostalgic.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/281661660″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”250″ iframe=”true” /]
The Wall Chargers have embraced this last year to adjust to maturing, growing families and to becoming self-aware in terms of their artistic aspirations. These ambitions include scoring films, securing licensing deals for songs, and recording their next album at Single Lock Records in Florence, Alabama. Single Lock Records is known for being the label of such artists as Shreveport music veteran Dylan LeBlanc as well as Birmingham’s Saint Paul and the Broken Bones. There are no promises of a label contract with Single Lock but the promise of recording in Muscle Shoals will be a major boon to a band that is ready to level up.
Don’t miss the STARGAZER Album Release Party
September 10th, 9:00 p.m.
Strange Brew, Shreveport, La