By Casey Phillips
When The Bohannons decided it was time to work on a follow-up to their 2008 sophomore release, "Bright White Light," they hit the road for Chicago.
That may seem a strange decision for a Southern grunge rock band known for writing songs reflecting their Scenic City origins, but getting out of town was key to getting a new perspective on the music, said vocalist and co-founder Marty Bohannon.
"So much of what we do and play is based on where we live and our perspective from inside where we live," he said. "Our motivation was to take it somewhere else and look at our material on a different scale.
"That really brought something textural to the songs... really road-testing them and seeing them as an artist outside our comfort zone."
The resulting seven-song EP, "Days of Echo," was a year in the making. After The Bohannons hosted open sessions last winter at Chicago's Electrical Audio studio, the album passed hands from producer Steve Albini (The Pixies, Nirvana) to engineer Vance Powell (Jack White) of Nashville's Sputnik Sound. Guest musicians on the album include keyboardist Jimmy Matt Roland (Ghostfinger) and multi-instrumentalist John Spiegel (Freakwater).
The Bohannons will kick off their support for "Days of Echo" with a CD release show Saturday at JJ's Bohemia with Black Diamond Heavies' vocalist/organist John Wesley Myers.
Fans of The Bohannons will recognize the narrative country/blues-inflected sound from their previous efforts, but the band's presence on "Days" is bigger and beefier, and the mood is a bit darker.
Although working with so many people has added many layers of complexity to the recording process, the results were well worth it, Bohannon said.
"In so many ways, this is our first record. That's how we felt when we made it," he said. "I think I've probably heard it 10,000 times, and every time I play it, I hear something slightly different or ... for the first time.
"I'm stoked. I feel like we have a way to expand now."
IF YOU GO
* What: The Bohannons CD release party.
* When: 10 p.m. Saturday.
* Where: JJ's Bohemia, 231 M.L. King Blvd.
* Admission: $10, includes a copy of the album.
* Phone: 266-1400.
* Venue website: www.myspace.com/jjsbohemia
* Related links at fyi.timesfreepress.com
* 2006: "Songs for the Disenfranchised"
* 2008: "Bright White Light"
* 2010: "Days of Echo"
Although The Bohannons won't release their new EP, "Days of Echo," until Saturday, lead vocalist Marty Bohannon said the band has already accumulated enough material for a full-length follow-up. The band will begin working on that album with Athens, Ga.-based producer David Barbe (of Drive-By Truckers fame) in November with an anticipated springtime release date.