By CRAIG HORLEMAN, Delaware State News
HARRINGTON, Del. (AP) — Recently transferred to Harrington from New Jersey, when Connor Johnson responded to Jake Dutcher’s online ad for a musician in 2017, he knew there was a musical match. But he could never dream that five years later would result in four EPs and a band starting to make waves in the indie music scene.
Dutchman, a five-member indie rock band from Downstate, recently released the seven-song EP ‘Dutchman Vol. 3’ and debut single ‘Hey Now’.
“I was in a band when I lived in New Jersey, and when I moved here, I was thinking of doing a solo thing. But then I realized I liked people too much. So I went on Craigslist and I was just looking at musicians’ classified ads, and I think I sent probably four emails,” said Mr. Johnson, vocalist and lead guitarist for Dutchman.
“Jake was the only one with a phone number there and he texted me right away. And I think we talked for about a week back and forth. His influences were like mine and we we talked just to see if we would have a common thread and what we could do. And about a week after that he came over and I think we recorded a song the first time we hung out together.
Mr Johnson and Mr Dutcher, who lives in Ellendale, would form a musical partnership which would lead to entering the studio in June 2018 for a demo EP titled “A Broken Man’s Life”.
Following the EP’s release on February 2, 2019, the band was back in the studio to create a catalog of original material and fill some essential positions. Rhythm guitarist Garrett Gravatt from Townsend and drummer Yamir “Fez” Alicea-Rivera from Canterbury joined the band.
“With Garrett, he just answered one of our ads. We were looking for another guitar player. And we had done a few auditions with people and I think we were going to stay just a threesome with a hitman. And he ended up texting us at the last minute. I was like, ‘Okay, this is the last one I do and, if that doesn’t work out, we’ll just keep our guy hired.’ And we’ve been stuck with him ever since,” Mr Johnson said.
In October 2019, Dutchman signed with recording label Bless Up Records and soon began working on their back-to-back EPs, “Dutchman Vol. 1” (March 2020) and “Dutchman Vol. 2” (July 2020).
“Fez joined us when we were doing ‘Volume 1’, so he helped arrange the drums but he didn’t play on it. And Garrett joined about a month before it was released,” Johnson said.
Both records were born alongside the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The quarantine gave them time to work based on the albums with new songs and recording techniques, most of which were done in the home studio from Mr. Johnson and Milford’s Electric Fossil, as well as focusing on new band members to push the direction of the music forward.
Having two albums so close to each other is a testament to the amount of original songs the band has written.
“We always say, every time you sit down, if you’re waiting to go do something, grab a guitar. We never know. ‘Run Run, Run’, which was the single from ‘Volume One’ – we had about three hours to kill before we hit the studio. And I just sat there and wrote it. And we ended up putting it on disk. So it’s really kind of like catch as catch can. It’s never really planned,” Mr Johnson said.
For “Vol. 3,” the band added a fifth member to keyboardist Franco Solorzano, from Georgetown, and they also dropped their label to go completely independent.
“We just wanted to try to build our own facade. We are very active boys. We like to do whatever we can on our own,” Mr Johnson said.
Mr Johnson said Mr Solorzano provided the new album’s first single ‘Hey Now’ with exactly what it needed.
“Franco is the magic wizard at the piano. With ‘Hey, Now’ we had the whole song written and we only recorded a drum track and a basic bass track and then the rest we got to cut live and throw it all out. one shot,” Mr Johnson said. noted.
“And Franco just came to hang out with us. I said, ‘Do you want to play on it?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ll figure it out.’ And it came with that piano riff you hear on the front. He came up with that first take, first hit. I hit the record and he was playing through. He’s like, ‘What do you think?’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s great. It’s done.’ And he’s like, ‘What? I was just practicing’ and I was like, ‘No, you don’t touch it.’ »
In the band’s press release, the song is described as “reminiscent of the early Who, the Doors effervescent and tangled in a web of Ben Folds Five”.
Overall, the band draws from a host of influences. There are classic rock sounds from Eric Clapton, The Eagles and Creedence Clearwater Revival mixed with newer bands like Sublime, Oasis, The Black Keys and Greta Van Fleet. The members also enjoy reggae, bluegrass, indie rock and the country roots of music.
While the COVID pandemic has put a damper on any large-scale live performances, Mr Johnson said the band were realistic about their place in the music world.
“We are exactly where we expect him to be right now. We try to do everything we can. And then we also expect the fact that we will have to move at some point. It is an eventuality that we have all just accepted,” he said.
The new EP “Vol. 3” is available on all major streaming platforms.
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