The American Analog Set
The American Analog Set
So it begins: 1995-1996
Rising from the ashes of a previous living room band, which included, Ken, Mark, and Lisa, what was to become The American Analog Set recruited friend Lee on bass and began in earnest in the spring of 1995. Work was begun on what would eventually become The Fun of Watching Fireworks in the winter of '95 at the Legend House in Ft. Worth, TX. The record was comprised of songs they had been working on since their inception the previous spring. The majority of the record was done in about three weeks. Recording this album was kind of like trial by fire as none of them, except for Ken, had the slightest idea how to record a song, let alone an entire album. And although dedicated to recording, the members were actually living in different cities within Texas, making recording, practicing and playing shows a more arduous task than usual. Perseverance paid off, however, and Fireworks was released in the summer of 1996 on Trance Syndicate/Emperor Jones Records.
The Living Room Years: Late 1996-1997
Ken and Lee moved to Austin soon after Fireworks was released, moving in with Mark with the intention of emulating The Monkees: one place to live, practice and record. Their dream of having a house, which doubled as a place to practice and record was shattered rather quickly by their less than friendly new neighbors who complained to their landlord. As a result their second album, From Our Living Room to Yours, was recorded under the threat of eviction. No longer novices, and fearing the fate of the homeless, American Analog Set recorded quickly and diligently, releasing From Our Living Room to Yours in the summer of 1997 on Trance/EJ, and Late One Sunday, an EP recorded at the same time, in October of the same year as part of the Darla Records Bliss Out series. Upon release, the band toured the states extensively for the first time, until....
The Golden Band: 1998-1999
Early 1998 found the Analog Set broke, homeless, and scattered over the state of Texas once again. Rehearsals and shows were rare for a short while but a summer tour with the Magnetic Fields gave the band a more structured schedule. Work subsequently began on what was to become their third album, The Golden Band, that winter. The album was completed in February and released the following July, resulting in the most consistent of American Analog Set's albums to date. A lengthy, strenuous tour followed, resulting in a couple months of some downtime for the AmAnSet. However, an autumn's worth of distance couldn't keep real life from moving forward and Lisa left the band at the end of 1999 to pursue a career.
New Equation: 2000-2001
The AmAnSet existed for a few weeks in that creepy no man's land common after a band member leaves. Shortly after New Year's Day, Ken, Lee and Mark began rehearsing with Tom Hoff who joined the band a few hours later. Tom picked up the large back catalog fairly quickly and they rehearsed through the spring as a four piece. The Set played all of two shows before Sean Ripple was asked to join the band as a guitar & vibraphone player, thereby completing the lineup. Although they managed only one show all summer, they polished the material that would eventually become Know By Heart. American Analog Set came out of hibernation in November with an album's worth of new material and a fresh spin on a few classics. Their show in November at the Mercury in Austin was followed by their first show overseas in Amsterdam the following week. The trip lit a fire under these kids and shortly after their return; they began recording Know By Heart. The group set out to make their fourth record a departure from their previous efforts and so the recording process drifted on for nearly two months. Whips were cracked, wills were broken, and a few of the members became intimately familiar with what's called "the overdub." Prompted by their crippling laziness when it comes to recording, the band also took time away from the tape machine to put together a collection of 7" singles and unreleased material called Through The 90's, which would be their last release for Trance/Emperor Jones. In honor of their new record and new lineup, the band chose Tiger Style Records as the new label to release Know By Heart; it hit stores on September 2nd, 2001 to much critical acclaim. In the year that followed, the AmAnSet spent 6 months on the road, marking the Set's first extended tour in Europe and the UK.
In between touring for Know By Heart, vocalist/guitarist Ken decided he wanted to go back to school, settling on a PhD program at Columbia University. Prior to the journey to New York City, a remix EP and tour with Her Space Holiday occurred in summer 2002, just prior to his departure. The EP, entitled Updates, featured remixes from Styrofoam, Her Space Holiday and American Analog Set themselves. Three days after returning from tour to Texas, Ken moved to New York, sparking break-up rumors like a wildfire, but AmAnSet are non-committal and have put in too much for too long to simply die out like that. In a surprise move, it became known to the crafty label execs in NYC that in between tours and the pending move, American Analog Set recorded their fifth proper full-length album Promise of Love. The songs on Promise of Love mostly came together as a result of being on the road, as the band continued writing songs in a similar vain to the more expansive sound of Know By Heart.
A Promise: 2003
And so it goes. After a year, Ken decided school was not where his heart was and began to focus more of his energy on The Set. Tiger Style released the lush soundscapes of Promise of Love in summer 2003, again prompting an incredible critical response that has established American Analog Set as a mainstay in the indie community. Internationally, Promise of Love was picked up by Wall Of Sound's imprint We Love You. Prior to a massive tour of the UK, Europe and the US in summer 2003, Tom learned he would be unable to accompany the band on their trek, resulting in the hiring of old friend Craig McCaffery to replace him on the keyboards. The subsequent tour solidified American Analog Set's place as a tour de force on the road, their new line-up as fierce as ever. The band continued to tour through the fall while also writing new material. In October, the AmAnSet visited the west coast with Ester Drang and also played their first major festival, All Tomorrow's Parties. In December, the band returned to the south and east coast with friends and former labelmates, the Album Leaf.
The New Goth: 2004
In January of 2004, the AmAnSet began work on what was to become "Set Free". The band intended to complete the record over three writing & recording sessions in January, March and May. The first session found the band back in Fort Worth, TX where they set up their studio in the house that produced their first record nearly 9 years before. In the past, the band had always relied on recording at home as a leisurely alternative to the stress of a studio. For the first time, though, the AmAnSet had members spread out over the country (Kenny in New York, Craig in Chicago and the rest in Austin) and was forced to keep their noses to the grindstone and take advantage of the limited time they had together. Despite the time limitations and learning of Tigerstyle Records demise, the sessions were upbeat and produced some the most memorable songs on the album.
For the next two sessions, the band returned to Austin and began recording in the house that produced 2001's "Know By Heart" and 2003's "Promise Of Love". The session in March was less fruitful than the first but the tour with Pinback the month after allowed the band to work out many of the new songs on the road. As a result the session in May yielded much better results. Still.. the record was far from complete and the band was forced to return to their homes around the country and say goodbye forever to their studio in Austin.
The summer found the band back in Europe for a three week tour in June and another big festival, this time in Taipei. A reservation snafu nearly stranded the band in Taiwan for a month, but they managed to return to the states in time to play the Austin City Limits festival in beautiful Austin, Texas.
The record, though, was still not complete and the band no longer had access to their beloved studio in Austin. Without a home, money, or the support of a label, the band needed something good to happen. And his name was Chris Michaels. Chris, a former member of Austin's the Furry Things, was opening a studio in his hometown of Jackson, MS and invited the Analog Set to be his first project. The band agreed and spent nearly two of the next four months flying and driving back and forth to the newly opened Laboratory in Jackson. In between sessions, the band also played its first show in Spain, at the Tannned Tin festival in Santander.
The record was finished up at Kenny's apartment in Brooklyn in early 2005 and finally mastered in Austin on February 8th, 2005 thirteen months after tape began rolling. Two of the forthcoming songs were featured on a free split ep with White Magic called "Songs Of Hurt & Healing".
The band is currently planning their last worldwide tour in support of "Set Free". The record and the tour will hit in the Fall of 2005.