Artist Spotlight: Baton Rouge-Duo, “England in 1819”
On a chilly Tuesday evening in the middle of downtown Spartanburg, The Coffee Bar came to life with a sound that can best be described as: intoxicating. Much like the heavy aroma of the dark house-blend that blanketed the cafe, the music emanating from England in 1819 was smooth, rich, and absolutely enchanting.
The Baton Rouge-based, self-proclaimed, “grand-wave” band of brothers was in town for the night, in between sets from Knoxville to Charlotte on their 2014, Sirens tour.
The duo, vocalist/pianist Andrew Callaway, and French horn/bassist, Dan Callaway, has been traveling the U.S. over the last year and a half, living out of the back of a highly efficient, metallic-silver Prius, and sharing their music, story, and infectious joy with fans both new and old.
Playing for a wide range of venues along the way, Dan confessed that touring is a learned process. “You just have to present a vibe that works.” Though every night doesn’t go completely as planned, he assured, “Every night is cool. It’s kinda like pizza, even a bad one is pretty good.”
While they typically play to larger houses and electrifying crowds, the band said they enjoy taking it down a notch. “It’s cool to do these smaller shows every now and then.” said Dan. “It’s super intimate.” Andrew agreed, “Yeah, you feel like you’re really connecting.”
With a few black, low-back leather chairs pressed daringly close to the band’s stage, the set was about as up close and personal as one could imagine. Lights hung low over their heads, casting an orange glow over the whole space that complimented the ambient waves of progressive, melodic music that were emitting from the musicians.
Andrew’s vocals, hauntingly beautiful and emotionally charged, harmonized intensely with the sweet, round tones being belted from Dan’s French horn. Andrew elaborated, “We both came out of school from the classical world. He studied the French horn, and I studied electronic music composition, so our first idea was to start a band that could somehow combine these different elements.”
After experimenting with a nine-member setup that incorporated more orchestral instruments (and even an opera singer) the band eventually trickled down to the two men, who have since redefined England in 1819’s sound. “We have these big builds and long progressions that build on each other.” Andrew continued, “It’s like we’re combining this epic feel with chill-wave electro beats.”
Their latest album, Sirens, was written during a two-month stay in a cabin in the North Carolina Mountains; a chance opportunity that led to one of their most exploratory albums yet. “Just finding different ways to be creative was really refreshing,” Andrew said, “It was a lot more flexible than we’ve been in the past. It had always been a really rigid process for us; very particular, so it was cool to be more open about it.”
Trace amounts of cabin-life subtly made their way into the lyrics; evoking images of nature, country scenery, and solitude. In contrast, tracks like “Lights” and “Sirens” draw inspiration from the bright cities they love, likely an homage to the lifestyle they had temporarily displaced.
On whether or not being in a band with his brother was for the better or worse, Andrew laughed and said, “I think it helps.” He continued, “ I guess it takes some of the pressure off to know that person isn’t going anywhere. We can be more honest with each other, and know that at the end of the day, we are still going to be brothers; we are going to be there for each other.”
The brotherly love was truly warm and present in their playful yet intense performance. Taking cues from one another during songs, laughing and enjoying each other during transitions; it was obvious that the two have a bond forged in blood and strengthened by their love for beautiful music.
Despite their shared interests and musical compatibility, the two couldn’t be more different. When they aren’t playing shows or writing songs, Andrew, the self professed introvert, enjoys playing chess to satiate his love for poker, and learning French to flex the left-side of his brain. Dan, a little more on the rowdy and exuberant side, enjoys a long list of online television obsessions, with HBO’s, “True Detective” topping the list.
England in 1819 will be wrapping up their tour in New Orleans on March 14, but don’t miss the chance to experience their “grand-wave” sound, as they stop over in Atlanta, March 12. Click Here to read the full interview.
The Carolinian would like to thank England in 1819, for graciously agreeing to speak with us, and for being absolute gentlemen. We wish them the best of luck on their tour, and in their future.