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Daytrotter’s Barnstormer Tour Closes in Maquoketa on April 30 PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 26 April 2011 11:53

Daytrotter.com’s latest Barnstormer tour – five nights of live music in Midwestern barns – closes Saturday at the Codfish Hollow barn in Makoqueta. The Reader published an interview with headliner Sondre Lerche in 2009 (RCReader.com/y/lerche), but we wanted to acquaint our readers with a couple of the other bands on this year’s tour: Guards and the Romany Rye. (The bill also includes Keegan DeWitt, ARMS, Mike & the Moonpies, and Hands.)

Richie James Follin of Guards. Photo by Olivia Malone.Guards: A Series of Fortunate Events

Richie James Follin said that the ongoing joke of his current band is that as long as a song has a Omnichord – an electronic instrument that was meant to mimic an autoharp – and a 12-string electric guitar, it’s a Guards song, regardless of genre or any other consideration.

So Guards’ seven-inch of covers includes a startlingly sleepy and longing inversion of Metallica’s “Motorbreath” alongside transformed tracks from M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend. There’s a dreamy, retro haze over everything, but on that and the earlier collection of seven songs that Follin posted on Guards’ Bandcamp site (Guards.Bandcamp.com), the vibe ranges from dark, propulsive pop to angular, doom-filled rock. (Both sets of recordings can be downloaded for free.)

If that sounds scattershot, it’s fitting considering how much happenstance has shaped the story of Guards. A member of Willowz and until recently a touring member of Cults – which features his sister Madeline – Follin said his original Guards recordings were just one of a handful of projects he put up on Bandcamp for friends and family.

The unusual sound, he said in a phone interview last week, was the result of circumstance. Most of his musical equipment was still in a tour trailer, and all he had to work with was a 12-string and an Omnichord. The latter, he said, “made me write a lot different than I had ever written before, and do a lot of different chord changes that I would have never done on the guitar. We owe a lot to the Ominichord.”

The tracks, he said, were originally written for other people to sing. But between tours, he recorded and sang on them himself “while I was waiting to see if Cults were going to use them.” He then got his sister and Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek to sing on a song apiece, and then he posted them to Bandcamp.

Those two singers wrote about the project at various online outlets, and Guards all of a sudden generated a lot of buzz – much like Cults had done previously. (The Reader wrote about Cults last year: RCReader.com/y/cults.) “I didn’t really think it was going to turn into something serious until it did, I guess,” Follin said.

Crawdaddy.com spotlighted Guards last summer: “For something that came together seemingly by chance, or at the very least without grand intentions, Guards’ music is undeniably catchy, refreshingly trend-defying, and remarkably polished as a singular vision, which is a testament to Follin’s range and prolificacy.”

But Follin doesn’t attribute Guards’ emergence to anything except the push by his sister and Polachek: “People seem to really love anything those two girls sing on,” he said.

And because he wants to focus on Guards – a single on the Kitsuné label is due May 10 – he’d prefer to keep his other projects under-the-radar: “I have like four other things up on Bandcamp right now that have been there for a while and nobody knows about it,” Follin said. “Now I don’t want anybody to know.”