[Cover photo credit to Grant Burkheimer]
The Shoegaze / Emo / Dream-Pop band Bolinas had shared their debut full length album Heavy Easy Listening via Sub Rosa Selects / Rose Garden Recording. The album delivers “the atmospheric sonic textures and intensity of harder-edged shoegaze and emo styles married with sharp pop melodies and streamlined song structures”. Behind the creation of the album is a ten year odyssey that spans roadtrips and hard times.
The album cover of Heavy Easy Listening, pictured above, is a real photo of songwriter and Bolinas band leader Chris Thomas’s ‘87 Volkswagen, which broke down and burst into flames as he was attempting to move across the country in pursuit of a career as a musician, burning up all his possessions and gear inside. While this was a catastrophic setback at the time, Thomas now sees the image as a symbol of perseverance. It suits the album which provides a view of Thomas’s migration from the Midwest to the West Coast and back over the decade between that photo and today.
Describing that incident, Thomas writes:
I lost all of my worldly possessions in a van fire whilst moving to Seattle in 2012, in the badlands of South Dakota. The album cover is a still of that actual event unfolding. It may be a grainy photo, but I think it’s a perfect metaphor for how I’ve felt about my choices in life sometimes. It really marked the start of this adventure that’s been the decade from 25th to my 35th year on this earth, and the constant struggle to be better. It took me a long time to recover from that emotionally and gear wise. Mark & Shaun own a luthier/guitar repair shop called Fountain City Guitarworks, and build Seuf Guitars. We all used to work at Seuf together building guitars, so when I went to Seattle after all of my gear burned in my van, they built me the jazzmaster that I still play today.
Thomas worked as a tour manager and guitar tech for bands like Youth Lagoon, Hunny, and currently Wallows, but when Covid struck in 2020, Thomas headed back home to Kansas City, where he began tracking the songs that became Heavy Easy Listening with his friends and former bandmates from the area.
I’ve been a Guitar Tech, Carpenter, Cabinet maker, Bartender, Retail sales associate, liquor store clerk… Blue collar to the core. All of us. I think that spirit is embedded in Bolinas. I’ve spent a lot of years handing people guitars to go out and live my dream while I’m off stage in the shadows. We play music because we love it and these people, after all we’ve been through, are my family.