Progressive reggae-rock pioneers Passafire have released Longshot, their sixth full-length album - and third release on indie reggae powerhouse Easy Star Records.
Longshot is a testimony to following dreams, inspired by people, places, and experiences Passafire has shared since forming as a band. The group’s four members continue chasing their passion despite being told many times that “Making it as a musician is a long-shot,” a piece of advice that inspired this album and its title. Longshot takes its listeners through a full spectrum of emotions, telling stories of heartbreak, new beginnings, overcoming personal struggles, finding truths, discovering new places, and getting older, all weaved into Passafire’s genre-defying mix of reggae, hard rock, hip hop, and anything else that turns the group on musically.
The title track, “Longshot,” resonates with anyone that has ever tried to pursue a dream, containing verses expressing “hopefulness and optimism that this world needs a lot of in these times,” as stated by the band’s lead singer and guitarist, Ted Bowne. The second single being released initially, “Blow,” represents Passafire’s deep respect for Hip-Hop, while marking Passafire’s first song to have a featured vocalist: Mr. Lif, a Boston-based Hip-Hop artist and nine-time Boston Music Award winner, best known for his vocals on Thievery Corporation’s “Culture of Fear.” Lyrically, it’s a timely track, tackling current events and paranoia around modern surveillance and the disarray of our government.
Writing for Longshot was different from previous albums, marking another first for the band as they wrote the songs in multiple places. The writing happened over three separate sessions; the first was at a friend’s home in the secluded woods outside of Sacramento, CA; the second took place in Ted’s home studio in St. Petersburg, FL, while the final session took place in Savannah, GA, at The Garage. While the writing covered new ground, the recording brought the band back to familiar territory: Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX. This is the fifth time Passafire recorded at Sonic Ranch, which the band describes as their “go-to-choice,” having become a “home away from home” and a “magical place for musicians and producers.” The band also tracked live with Charles Godfrey engineering in the studio’s “Neve Room,” so-called for its Neve console with motorized faders that once belonged to Madonna. Passafire fondly describes Charles Godfrey as being like “Yoda,” and enjoys working with him on both a creative and technical level, having also become friends with him over the last nine years.
Befitting a band over a decade into the game and six albums deep, Longshot’s songs reflect a maturity gained by years on and off the road. “Drifter” tells a story of traveling the world and experiencing new things. “Rapunzel” depicts starting over, inspired by Ted moving to Tybee Island, GA; while “Growing Up,” reflects the ambivalence of getting older. The difficulties of maintaining relationships in this business are explored especially on Will’s songs “Bright” and “Tacoma.” A more positive take on this aspect of a musician’s life can be found in Ted’s “One Blink,” which weaves a strong story about finding love and keeping it going despite long months on the road and in the studio.
Relationships and normal life be damned, as Passafire will continue their usual touring pace to support the record. Co-headlining with long time road partner Ballyhoo! begins March 31, along with some of their own headline shows. In May, the band returns to play California Roots in Monterey, CA, currently the biggest domestic reggae festival. In late July and early August, the band will join the legendary 311 for four shows in the Southeast. All tour dates are below.
Passafire’s Longshot digs at so many emotions, but hits all the right spots. Cleverly crossing musical boundaries, layering deep lyrical content into dynamic grooves that shake you up, it’s bound to please long time Passafire fans and find the band new ones as well. As Ted says, “There’s no one-way to feel on this album, it’s a rollercoaster.”
May 26 – Monterey, CA – California Roots Music and Arts Festival
May 27 – Denver, CO – Denver Day of Rock
May 31 – Sacramento, CA – Goldfield #
June 1 – Arcata, CA – Humbrews / Humboldt Brews
June 2 – Portland, OR – Star Theater
June 3 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile #
June 4 – Bellingham, WA – The Shakedown #
June 7 – Spokane, WA – The Big Dipper #
June 8 – Missoula, MT – The Top Hat #
June 9 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge #
June 10 – Las Vegas, NV – Reggae in the Desert
June 11 – Flagstaff, AZ – The Green Room #
June 13 – El Paso, TX – The Perch at Tricky Falls #
June 15 – Austin, TX – Antone's #
June 16 – Dallas, TX – Trees #
July 26 – Charlotte, NC – Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre $
Aug 1 – Boca Raton, FL – Sunset Cove Amphitheatre $
Aug 2 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre $
Aug 4 – New Orleans, LA – Bold Sphere Amphitheatre $
Sep 1 – Longcreek, SC – Surrounded by Sound Music & Arts Festival 2017
#= with Bumpin Uglies
$= with 311 and New Politic