Bands generally take several months to produce an album—the songwriting process, scheduling, recording, mastering, etc. This was the plan The Soldier Thread was in the midst of implementing when the band marched into the studio to record their newest EP.
“We started to record all of the songs, but we weren’t feeling it,” said lead vocalist Patricia Lynn. “So I decided—pretty much me, by myself—that we were going to collectively start writing. We took the time to write brand new songs.”
On The Bull, only two of the EP’s five tracks—“No Parachute” and “Pretty Bones”—were written prior to entering the studio. The band took advantage of their seven-day recording session to write and record the rest. “On any given day, we started at 10 a.m., and went into a room all together with the producer to listen,” Lynn said. “We’d work on an idea and complete a song, and then record it that same day.”
This process is unlike anything the band had done before, but the motive appears to be pure and presented from a fresh and unforeseen perspective. “Sometimes, an artist has been sitting on their songs for such a long time, and they’re already over it,” explained Lynn. “It’s like when you really like a song and you put it on repeat and listen to it for like a month straight, and suddenly you just don’t want to hear it anymore. That’s kind of like how it is for artists. By the time you go into the studio to record it, you’re kind of already over it.”
Going about the process at a more frenetic pace resulted in a fresher-sounding finished product, she said. “We wrote it and recorded it on the same day, so while we were playing it, and we were singing it, we were still very excited about that song,” Lynn said. “I think that snapshot in time really comes out in this EP.”
Skip forward to the day before The Soldier Thread’s EP-release party last month. Patricia Lynn sported a faux-leather jacket and a violet strand in her dark brown hair, as she sipped coffee at Austin Java. She laughed and talked about how nervous she was for the show. The gig at Stubb’s inside stage had been sold out for more than a week.
It’s rare for a local band to sell out a show. To sell it out with 10 days to spare is nearly unheard of. It’s a sign of the band’s quick rise in their brief history. “None of this has sinked in until last week, when Stubb’s sold out,” she said about the band’s growing popularity. Their work has paid off, though, landing the band a spot as a staff pick on 101X, the local alternative rock radio station.
Initially, the band members met in San Marcos in 2007. Justin McHugh and Todd Abels, who both play keyboard and guitar, and sing backup vocals, were collaborating together under the name The Tourist. At the time, the band had a mostly instrumental style. While searching for a vocalist to fill in one of their tracks, a mutual friend introduced them to Patricia Lynn. Prior to meeting with The Tourist, Lynn was performing in coffee shops in San Marcos, participating in talent shows and what she calls “acoustic nothings.” After listening to a few of Lynn’s recordings, Abels and McHugh asked her to do a few recordings with them in the studio.
“We hit it off,” said Lynn. “They wanted strings in their sound, and at the time I was still playing viola, so I decided to play some strings for them too. Then they were like, ‘Hey do you want to be in our band?’”
The agreement was, if she was going to join the band, they were going to start from the beginning. The three decided to rename themselves The Soldier Thread—a name inspired by the title of one of Lynn’s previously written tracks, representing the final strand of hope and strength that is fueled by adrenaline, the final piece of fabric that a soldier clings to in order to survive. “They just really liked the way it sounded, and what it represented to me,” said Lynn. From then on, the band went on to add their percussionist, Drew Vandiver, and—a year and a half later—bassist Chance Gilmore. Currently, the band has kept all of their original members.
Working with a quintet is often a difficult thing to do. Often, roles and ideas clash. There are 25 different possibilities, five different perspectives, a million different sources for inspiration; this is a difficult thing to accommodate when working with a band. The Soldier Thread makes it work cohesively. That cohesiveness helped the band write and record The Bull in a week with producer Dwight Baker.
Despite the band’s modest attempts to pursue an established career in music, The Soldier Thread experienced a series of setbacks before continuing with The Bull. “We were signed with an independent label—I don’t even want to plug their name. It didn’t work out,” explained Lynn. “Our contract expired with the indie label, but the two people that ran the label are going separate ways.”
As a result, the label owners are dividing their assets and dissolving the company, which includes The Soldier Thread’s latest full-length album and older EP. The band is not allowed to sell their album, because under their previous label contract, they do not own the rights. “It is currently up in the air. It has been up in the air for the last year,” said Lynn. “What is nice about this EP is that we own it. We can do whatever we want with it; that’s what’s nice about not having a label.”
Having full rights with The Bull, The Soldier Thread is moving ahead and making a music video for each of the tracks featured on the EP. Videos for ”No Parachute” and “Pretty Bones” have been filmed and completed. “No Parachute” is the only one currently released.
“We worked with Luped Media,” Lynn said about the music video. “Dwight Baker, our producer, lent us his oldest son—a little boy—for the video. There’s not a story line. It goes with the idea, that you don’t need a plan, you don’t need to control everything—just don’t be afraid and just let things happen.”
In addition to releasing a series of cinematic videos, The Soldier Thread has been intensely occupied with high-profile gigs. Weeks after the sold-out EP-release show, the band performed as an official South by Southwest artist. Last year, they toured with Blue October.
Now that The Bull is officially released, The Soldier Thread hopes to continue making music videos to support the EP. In addition, the band wants to release another EP by the end the summer, begin to write a full-length album and keep their focus on a national tour. Lynn also plans on performing bi-monthly acoustic sets at Frank and working closely with The American Spirit, an acoustic band she sings with live. Lynn has a clear vision for how she wants The Soldier Thread’s fortunes to manifest.
“The careers of the musicians in Metric is something I would like my career to look like,” said Lynn. “They were with a label, but are now independent; they are touring nationally; they are doing it on their own. I would like our career to look like that. I would like to keep our career on a bigger stage.”
Be sure to catch The Soldier Thread live at Frank for our Red River Noise showcase on March 31. For more details, visit the Facebook event page.
Filed under: Feature, Austin, Austin Music, Music, Patricia Lynn, The Bull, The Soldier Thread