Autumn War

Autumn War is the name of a band I belonged to back in the late 90s. We met while students at Wheaton College, just west of Chicago. Two of us were students at the college, and the other two were local friends. The earliest version of the band (for exactly one show, I think) had eight people total: drummer, bassist, lead vox, two guitarists, one cellists and two backup singers.

Way too many people. We landed at the more reduced and manageable number of four: drums, bass, guitar, lead singer. At that point, we buckled down to seriousness and spent several years playing mostly bars in and around Chicago. Our music style, for the most part, was pretty heavy, as the bassist and drummer were fans of prog-rock bands like King’s X, Dream Theater and Rush.

Here are a few of our songs from that time.

1. “Camera” This was inspired by a summer I once spent in Ethiopia. I was down there with a missions team from Switzerland, working in two orphanages in and near Addis Ababa. It was the saddest summer of my life. I wish I could forget that summer, but I hope I never do.

2. “Dark Gods” I originally wrote it as an acoustic ballad, but the band got hold of it. In this case, that means it turned into a progressive experiment. It’s long for a song, and there are a lot of different things going on inside, particularly in terms of how the rhythm changes. At the end, it turned into something more for musicians, rather than easy listening. Lyrically, it’s fairly dark, as it’s a meditation on what happens when the concepts of fealty and worship are turned upside down.

3. “Goodbye California” It was one of those songs that sprang into being as if it had been waiting in the wings of my mind. Lyrically, it’s an interesting song for me, due to the fact that I managed to pull off three layers of meaning in it. Text, subtext, and sub-subtext. This version was the one done by my Chicago band, the Autumn War. We played this in quite a few bars, from biker bars to the more artsy places in downtown Chicago. I’d recommend listening to this with headphones and not through standard computer speakers.

And here’s a stripped down version of the same song that I recently did in the studio. Alternative vocal harmonies.

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