Jason Reece of the modern rock troupe ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead grew up in Hawaii, but it was only recently that he learned of a three-degrees-of-separation connection to President Barack Obama.
“My dad has this friend, and he went to high school with Obama,” says Reece, 37, who founded Trail of Dead with childhood friend Conrad Keely, first in Olympia, Wash., before relocating to Austin, Texas. “We were going through his yearbook, and he was showing me pictures of Obama.
“And it was really comical, ‘cause Obama was called Barry back then, not Barack, and he was like a regular kid. He used to smoke a lot ... and his senior page had this empty beer bottle on top of a record player, with a fake skull in the picture. It was interesting; it showed a human aspect to our president which I thought was funny, like he was just a regular guy of that period and culture.”
Like Obama, Trail of Dead has been on its own campaign of change during the past couple of years. The group left the major label ranks, splitting from Interscope Records after two albums to establish its own Richter Scale label. It also switched both management and producers, stepping away from longtime collaborator Mike McCarthy for New York-based Chris Coady (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
And Reece feels the resulting “The Century of Self,” Trail of Dead’s sixth album, reflects the energy of those new ventures.
“I guess for us the goal was to sort of press the re-boot button and start fresh,” he explains. “It was just kind of like starting over and jumping into the abyss of uncertainty. We didn’t know where we were going, but we felt like if we can get over this then we can get over a lot of problems.
“For us it was more about making the music that we felt was closest to our hearts at the moment. You need those obstacles, I think, to make you write better music. It kind of helps the process in a strange, dysfunctional fashion.”
...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, the Funeral Party and Midnight Masses perform Thursday (March 5) at the Pike Room in The Crofoot, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.
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