2020 has been a heck of a ride, full of ups and downs, at times seeming hard to find light in the darkness. Shining stars exist throughout, however, bringing us through the craziness. Among those beacons of light, new music by our favorite artists is certainly something that guides us.
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades recognizes the difficult year we have all had, and are incredibly thankful for their devoted fans. That is why their fifth studio album, Miles in Blue, was just released on Wednesday, November 25th.
For a band that considers themselves a family, sharing this new music ahead of the holiday is purposefully special.
“Music can be one of the finest medicines!” says Horseshoes and Hand Grenades’ guitarist and vocalist Adam Greuel. “We all know how gnarly 2020 has been. We want to provide the community that surrounds our music with something that might help them get through the times and bring a smile to their faces…we figured that there was no better time to release this album than Thanksgiving because, well, we're thankful!”
Back in January 2019, when 2020 was still a distant dream, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades went into Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, MN with 18 songs of original material. Each of the five band members contributed to the songwriting, resulting in a true showcase of the bands’ talents, and a glimpse into each of their personalities.
“This album kind of captures our collective and individual experiences of ‘growing up’,” Adam Greuel shares. “2018 was the busiest year we'd had as a band and I think we all started to feel the tensions of being on the road versus being home. When you're out on the road playing music with your best buddies, doing what you love as your job, you're also missing being home with your family, your partner, your little quant fishing holes. You start to feel those miles on your body and wonder if maybe you should take some time to rest up. I think some of our individual experiences of being on the road are wrapped up in this record. I think most humans feel these types of tensions as life gets busy and we have to really consciously make the decisions to nurture relationships with the people we love."
So, with just 6 days to work with, 6 days that would lead up to and conclude with the total "blood moon" super-moon Eclipse of January 2019, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades and their individual and collective wealth of life experiences stepped into the studio.
To produce the project, they recruited Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi, Hard Working Americans, and, most recently, The High Hawks, of which Greuel is a member.
“I'll admit I was a bit leery when they told me they had eighteen songs that they wanted to record in a matter of six days,” says Staehly. “Once we dug in and got started though it was apparent that it was going to be really easy to do. The band had been touring hard and were a well-greased machine.”
The large amount of material, combined with the short time frame and possibly some lunar magic resulted in a recording process that at times was “hit record and play.”
“The music really played the band and everyone served the songs in the highest way possible,” recalls Staehly. “Amazing things can unfold when a band is making a record and there are trust and good vibes in the room. We had that in aces, and everyone did their best.”
The result is a studio recording that manages to capture the true vibe, energy, and emotion of this unique quintet.
Miles In Blue begins with the tune Broke, penned by Russell Pedersen (banjo, vocals), which was released as the album’s first single, along with a video.
"It's a broad anthem to anyone who has to work, which is basically everyone,” says Pedersen of Broke. “The real crux of the tune stems from all that is lost while working a job, any job. ‘Broke’ is a plea to the world to take every tiny moment and savor it all you can. You know, it's a lot better to be fiscally broke than morally. Hug your partner, tell your kid you love them, and call your Mom and Dad. Don't lose sight of what you're really working for."
Broke, written well before 2020 had cast itself upon us as a year that will never be forgotten, is certainly a poignant message, one that proves even more relevant now in 2020's shadow.
“With the time period being what it is, it's been a great moment for bands to get creative with their careers,” Greuel says, with a note of positivity. “We can't be out on the road playing shows, but we can do things like live streams, songwriting, and releasing an album!”
Thankfully, that is just what Horseshoes and Hand Grenades have done, and Miles In Blue is a testament to the talent, ambition, creativity, and growth of these five friends from Wisconsin.
Producer Chad Staehly sums it up: “We had so much fun making this album, like fall out of your chair laughing kind of fun, and we all cried and had our hearts broken too. This album has it all, the full range of emotion and what goes into living. There's also plenty to dance to on the album and songs that make you want to throw your hands up in the air like you just don't care.”
In the early morning of January 21, 2019, in the shadow of the Total Supermoon Blood Moon Eclipse, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades shared in drinks and merriment as they had their final in-studio listen to Miles In Blue.
One of the tracks on the album is a Russ Pedersen instrumental titled Eclipse.
The serendipity of the moment was not lost on the band, as Greuel recalls. “It really gave us this feeling that everything was just as it was supposed to be. There was a magical feeling in the studio for this one.”