The Influencing Environment On An Indie-Folk Transformation
A.A. Bondy has weathered several band line-ups and genres before finally settling into his bones with When the Devil’s Loose.
Bondy’s former band, Verbena, couldn’t sound more different to his latest solo offerings; the grunge-rock outfit’s second, most well-known album Into the Pink was produced by Dave Grohl, fuelling comparisons between Verbena and their bigger brother, Nirvana. However, as his new indie-folk offerings prove, Bondy’s heart wasn’t in the band mentality. While most musicians would be keen to gloss over any turbulent waters among past bandmates, Bondy describes the way his relationship with Verbena comrades broke down simply as “I just didn’t like it anymore.” The band drove until they “hit water and nobody knew how to build a boat”, at which point they needed to head in their different directions. Although free from the many-headed burdens of band politics, Bondy “went swimming for a while,” but it is certain he’s now on dry land. So much so that it makes you wonder where Verbena’s songs really came from. It takes a look back at Bondy’s past musical forays to uncover the complete turnaround in both sound and name – from Scott, adopted for Verbena, back to his birth name of Auguste Arthur.
This mirrors not only the change in Bondy’s direction and sound, but seems to be a metaphor for the more natural, personal method of song writing that is apparent in When the Devil’s Loose. The haunting, soulful vocals enjoy their melancholy with such lyrics as: “You know I could drink the whole world and never get my fill”. In particular, The Mightiest of Guns represents the organic, fluid nature of the song-writing on this album, holding on to the theme of delicious sadness that runs throughout, encompassed in the line: “You won’t give up your blues without a fight.” Written in the wake of American Hearts, Bondy’s first solo album, the song has the sparse nature of the first release, but the tangibility of his accompanying band. Written mostly by “sitting upstairs in a bar and catching whatever was in the air at the time”, Bondy’s “weird abstract memories of writing The Mightiest of Guns” are modest, giving the feeling that this album was not constructed but happened honestly and naturally.
As the bar setting was conducive to the writing of that particular song, so the American south was integral to the album as a whole. When The Devil’s Loose is the first of Bondy’s records to be primarily recorded in his home region, and the geography lends itself to the re-working of his talents in a more mature and sincere way. The imagery often dubbed as being of a Christian nature in Bondy’s lyrics where people drag “crosses down the streets” talking of “demons”, “sins” and “angels” is a mystery to Bondy, who doesn’t “view it as being overtly Christian necessarily, just as some kind of attempt at some sort of otherness. When you grow up in the South that kind of stuff finds its way into people’s lives.” It becomes apparent that Bondy has no intention of implying clichéd religious sentiments, and is genuinely aware of the human need for faith. His roots and culture are interwoven through the lyrics until you feel you are listening with him.
With a momentous journey already under his belt, it’s difficult to believe Bondy has something up his sleeve to follow When The Devil’s Loose. Remaining with the candid formula that worked so well, he admits: “I don’t know what the new direction is yet until it happens.” You get the impression that this album is somewhat of a relief to Bondy – his freedom and labours coming to fruition; with fans such as Bon Iver and Conor Oberst, he’s in good company. For further information, please visit www.myspace.com/aabondy.