Polecat: New Fathoms album released this month

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Locally loved and perennial What’s Up! Award winners, Polecat, release their new album Fathoms this month. Out May 11, this is the band’s third recording, following a self-titled EP released in 2010 and the 2011 full-length Fire on the Hill, which went on to win the Best Silver Platter (best local album) at that year’s What’s Up! awards show.

Over the past three years, the band has played more than 200 shows, according to lead vocalist/ guitar player Aaron Guest, and in the process has garnered a solid following in Bellingham and among Americana-lovers all across the Pacific Northwest and points beyond. The band includes Guest, Cayley Schmid on fiddle, Richard Reeves on stand-up bass, Karl Olson on drums and Jeremy Elliott on lead guitar and vocals.

In many ways, the new album is a combination of the new and old for Polecat. The album features much of the sound that the band is known for – namely Americana/ roots music with tinges of Irish music and rock – but the album also features new sides of the band. There are more orchestral parts, a refined sound and some flirtations with percussion that meets reggae and other genres that people may not associate the band with at first.

“When people ask us what genre we perform in, I just call it ‘roots music,’” Guest said. “It’s the people’s music. There is something in it for fans of every genre, I think.”

Fathoms was recorded at famed Bear Creek Studios, as well as at Fairhaven Studios and The Roost during last winter. The Bear Creek experience was especially exciting for the band, Schmid said. Bear Creek is located in a cabin in Woodinville and has been the site of notable recordings, including The Lumineer’s self-titled breakout album, Helplessness Blues by the Fleet Foxes, Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden and Dancing of the Ceiling by Lionel Richie, among many others.

Polecat said that they recorded all of the “guts” of the album at Bear Creek, and then fleshed out the 12 songs on the album at the other studios.

“There is definitely a sound and a vibe at that studio that could not compare to places we have recorded at in the past,” Elliott said. “They just had tons of great gear and it really allowed us to expand our sounds and explore new tones.”

Guest said that the songs on the album have been ones that they’ve been working on and playing live for the better part of the two years since their last album, and while they are known for their live show, they wanted to approach the album with the goal of a more worldly approach.

The worldly approach that the band speaks of includes the addition on classical guitars, vocal harmonies, keyboards, mandolins and piano. While the band can not play all of the instruments in a live setting, they said that they could not help but take full advantage of the opportunity they had in the studio.

“It’s true: most of our fans are fans because of our live shows, so what we did with the album is record all the basic parts of the track live, together in the studio playing at the same time,” Guest said. “The additional instrumentation was all about doing it tastefully and making it subtle enough to not hinder the live aspect of our music.”

The album was funded in part via IndieGogo, which is a crowdfunding site similar to Kickstarter. The campaign ended up providing the band with $3,045 for recording. Guest said the money raised was enough to pay for recording time at Bear Creek, and the rest of the costs for the album were paid out of pocket by the band members. In total, the band has pressed and packaged 1,000 copies of Fathoms, which will be for sale at the CD release show on May 11, as well as available for purchase at Everyday Music and Avalon.

As part of perks on the Indiegogo page, the band has been required to cover two songs. The song choice was entirely up the two anonymous donors who donated at least $375 to the cause. Guest said one of the song requests was “Stay All Night” by Willy Nelson, which can be found on YouTube, and the band declined to say what the other song was, but did say they will be playing it at the CD release show for anyone that is interested.

After the CD release in Bellingham, the band plans on playing shows in Idaho, Oregon and in Washington, including appearances at Ski to Sea and the Strait of Juan De Fuca Festival on May 27.

“We really feel good about this album. It is our most epic album, and our most expensive album to make,” Elliott said. “There was a lot that went into this album and we can’t wait for people to get their hands on it and to hear what we have been up to.”

The band will be hosting an all-ages CD release show for Fathoms on May 11 at the Majestic Ballroom located at 1027 N. Forest Street. The release party will start at 7 p.m., with Polecat playing at 8:30 p.m., and plenty of other entertainment scheduled before the performance, including face painting, a photo booth, a beer garden for those of drinking age and food provided by Kurly’s Kart. The cover is $5 and children under the age of 12 will not be charged admission.

“This is our most epic album and we really wanted to host the largest CD release show we have ever done,” Elliott, the lead guitarist, said. “So, instead of just playing at a music venue, we decided to find a space that will cater to all of our fans- both young and old.”

For more information, visit www.polecatbluegrass.com.

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