A sunny day can change your mind, says Andrew Gardner. It can change everything.
So why think of weather as the hum-drum topic of small talk? Why deny its force?
Gardner, the singer, songwriter and guitarist behind the long-running and ever-shifting La Cerca, set out to make an album that draws its inspiration from weather, landscape and climate. That vision became the gorgeous and complex Sunrise for Everyone.
"I had an idea that I wanted a record to be somewhat weather-related, or atmosphere- related. It's taking another meaning into desert rock, if you will," he says. "We're making music that is reflective of the land, or the atmosphere. 'Weather Festival' is perfect example of that. It's a sunny day and you end up in a very different place. It can change your mind. It can change everything."
Sunrise for Everyone, released July 29 on Fort Lowell Records, is a pinnacle for La Cerca, a rock 'n' roll journey that brings to mind Big Star, Badfinger and Guided by Voices, musical alchemists who, like Gardner, mastered the powerful combination of sad songs and big hooks.
Following the fantastic Rock 'n' Roll To The Rescue (2011) and Goodbye Phantom Engineer (2002), Sunrise for Everyone is undeniably a summer record, but one that spans the very end of spring to the very beginning of fall. It's not about just the height of summer, but instead about changes.
"There is a sense of the desert in the songs, in the music I hear it in my guitars, in the dusty amplifiers. There is something that does come from the desert. As a musician, I can feel it and hopefully allow it to come out in my music. It's different than if I were someplace else," Gardner says.
The songs that gave the album its direction are the first and the last, "Arizon" and "Mountain Villager," which were the last two written. The melancholy vibe of the end of summer is captured in the opener "Arizon." The song came together after Gardner had returned from a trip to Germany. The name reflects on both the big broad space of the state, but also the very specific place of their practice spot, on Arizona Avenue.
But while the album starts on an introspective and wistful note, it soon gives way to an uplifting and tightly wound guitar churn.
"There's a sorrowful pace in the beginning to start, it's bittersweet. An unsteadyness kind of fills in. It's something that's sort of hidden in there. It's the foreshadow, getting ready to really build it up," Gardner says. "'Climate Control' is to smack you out of it. It's a rocker. It has this anthem aspect to it."
Next up are "Sunrise For Everyone" and "Sorry XO," which were written together and the band still stacks together on their setlists.
"'Sunrise for Everyone' is about trying to move out of depression, trying to move out of any sort of sorrow or hurt. Hey look, there's always a new day," Gardner says. "In 'Sorry XO,' I'd like to say that I'm speaking for someone. Not necessarily in any particular moment, but it's a common thing where words come out that you don't mean. I relate to that as well. We just started playing it again and it's kind of a new song for us because we hadn't played it in three or four years."
In "Weather Festival," the hook and the chorus is actually the guitar line, which is something that La Cerca has been known for. Across Sunrise for Everyone, the "voice" in Gardner's guitar stands out.
"I feel that the guitar is trying to say something too. Along with lyrics, it's trying to be complementary to the vocal lines. There's a feeling that comes through the guitar
Playing music is emoting and that's what I'm doing when I'm playing these things," Gardner says. "I'm becoming less and less conscious of it. It's better to lose yourself to it and let it be its own self without analyzing it too much."
Sunrise for Everyone was an exercise in patience: patience for Gardner as a songwriter, patience as band members, patience in recording. In the end, that's what pushed the best stuff to the top.
"The songs were around for a very long time, but they change from time to time," La Cerca's singer, songwriter and guitarist. "Different players play on it, different people are coming in and out of the band to change things. We all sort of reflect each other, but have our own musical energies that we bring into it."
The record is a snapshot of the ever-evolving Tucson band. At the time the basic tracks were recorded, La Cerca was a six-piece: Ernie Gardner (the album is dedicated to Ernie, who passed away in 2012) on drums, Malcolm Cooper on keys, Kevin Dowling on guitar, Miguel Villarreal on bass, Bill Oberdick on guitar and Andrew Gardner on guitar and vocals (no relation to Ernie). Now La Cerca is a four-piece comprising Gardner, Oberdick, bassist Boyd Peterson and drummer Roger Reed.
"Everybody affects the band. Everybody affects what's happening and therefore it changes the songs, ever so slightly, or even very drastically. We don't play the songs the same way as we used to. It changes because we feel differently. We need to embrace the change. It will change again. I feel it. I don't know when," he says.
Just like the weather.
La Cerca Record Release Party With The Electric Blankets, Numb
Bats, Amanda X and AZ77
7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 15
Club Congress 311 E. Congress St.
Free / 21+