[Cover photo credit to Lisa Schaffer]

Philadelphia area Lyricist Joe Puleo and singer-songwriter Eli Wenger have announced their collaboration in Bannister Effect and their debut LP, A Life I Knew due out January 21, 2022.   The album represents seven years of work and combines melodic Folk, Rock, Pop, and Punk elements. The album is generally described as “a meditation on the vagaries of life and one man’s response to the vicissitudes he faced” and explores themes of love, death, self-acceptance and reemergence.

We’re pleased to debut the video and single for “Again”, from the new album, which will be available on December 10th. On the same day, Wenger will perform a free but limited capacity show featuring songs from the album at Forever Changes Records in Phoenixville, PA at 7:30PM.

The video takes a rather psychedelic approach to the struggles we face in life, and is shot on the streets of Philadelphia and beyond with a definite Punk nod to not taking itself too seriously.

Joe Puleo shares:

“I found the inspiration for the song “Again” in the Japanese proverb, 七転び八起き (Nana korobi ya oki), that translates to ‘Fall down seven times, get up eight .’  I searched my mind for an apt metaphor to represent this concept, and I came up with two.  Getting pummeled by waves on the beach and being punched repeatedly…and getting up again!

Eli and I decided on a more “punk treatment” to the core song and Eli later appended the second “drowning” phase of the song. From a production standpoint, we tried many methods of distortion on Eli’s voice before we settled on the current mix.  

Dave Obsorn’s video is incredibly adept at picking up both metaphors and delivering the full scope of emotions that the song evokes.  Unlike a lot of music videos, “Again” seamlessly blend the music and the video into a cogent story.

As an aside, I first shared the concept of the song with Eli on a train ride into Philadelphia to see Tommy Keene play at the Boot and Saddle in September, 2015.  Ironically, and sadly, six plus years later we have both a completed song and a video, but Tommy Keene and the Boot and Saddle have passed on.”

Eli Wenger gives his thoughts:

“For both the song and the video, the point was to tell the story of how life can repeatedly knock you down onto your ass. You get hit, you struggle to get back up, and the moment you can finally stand on your own two feet, something new sucker punches you in the gut and the whole process starts over.   

But the point is to get back up.

When writing the song, I also wanted to convey the feeling that what often levels you the most is your own thought patterns, and self-sabotage. Your short and angry brother. You, knocking your own self down.  The music needed to convey that anxiety, as well as the calm (at the end of the song) that comes with finally letting go and simply being.

For the video, Director Dave Obsorn and I began by discussing the many ways the world can lay you out.  But we both wanted to somehow find the humor in the way our lead gets laid out. It is, after all, a fun song. From beatings, to shock torture, to swarms of bees, we had all kinds of funny ideas for the plagues that beset this poor man. However, Dave leaned into the self-sabotage aspect of the concept in such a brilliant way that is entirely his own. This man, battling his own mirrored self, his evil twin; destroying him and serenely, respectfully carrying him to rest (he is after all still a piece of himself) and then letting him go forever. Beautiful.” 

Joe Puleo has had a competition career as an athlete, which relates the band’s name in tribute to Roger Bannister, the man who broke the 4 minute mile in 1954. Following his competitive career, he owns and operates the Philadelphia Running Co., which offers coaching services to clients ranging from the United States Marine Corps’ All-Marine Running Team to the El Salvadoran national record-holder in the marathon. His first EP, Ten Years To Home was released earlier in 2021.
 
A Life I Knew is Eli Wenger’s first release of original music in 18 years, though from 1995-2008 he fronted the Philadelphia based band, Los Halos, who worked with Loveless Records from 2000 onwards. In 2010, Wenger took ownership of live music venue Steel City Coffeehouse from 2010 to 2016. Wenger currently co-directs Martha’s Choice Marketplace and Community Farm, in Norristown PA, the largest food pantry in Montgomery County, Martha’s has distributed over 2.8 million lbs. of food to over 7,000 families in need throughout the pandemic.