ANIMAL YEARS: WRITING FOR RELATABILITY

BY: MIA POHLMAN

If you like music for clapping, foot-stamping, all-out dancing in a field at sunset, the band Animal Years might be your ticket. They’ve played across the U.S. and have been featured in Rolling Stone. At Shipyard 2019, they closed out Friday night of the festival in Cape Girardeau.

Formed in Brooklyn in 2013, Animal Years singer, songwriter and guitarist Mike McFadden writes the music and then meets with bassist Anthony Saladino and drummer Anthony Spinnato for arrangement and production.

“I'm usually not a very specific writer,” McFadden says. “I really like widely-appealing themes, ideas, feelings, things everyone can relate to. … It's all just wholesome stuff that I just kind of like to think about and write about and share with other people.”

For example, in “Home (I Was Born),” McFadden sings about having pride in where you come from. “Friends” is about getting together with old friends and remembering the good times growing up together. “Caroline” fondly remembers a girl the singer met in his past and hopes she might feel the same way as him.

The band takes its name from an album by Josh Ritter, with the idea of living life as if you don’t have a lot of years available to you. Essentially, living life in animal years.

Recently, McFadden moved from New York to Nashville in order to have more space for gear and a trailer. With his Brownhill Music publishing deal he’s had since 2014, it also moves him to the same location as other artists to write with. It also allows him to be more centrally-located, especially for Midwest shows, which he says the band plays a lot of.

The extra space is something he’s still getting used to.

“We just don't have any furniture; I’ve never had to furnish a four-bedroom house,” he says, laughing. “It looks like squatters live here right now. In New York, I couldn’t fit anything in the house, and now it’s like I don't have enough stuff.”

Up next for the band is releasing the new record they recorded in Nashville in February. Although they don’t yet have a release date for it, the band has been “touring like crazy” and sharing their new music with audiences live. McFadden says it is rock-themed with storytelling elements and “big” themes. He played some of the music from this new album at Shipyard.

Animal Years brings high energy to their live performances, and McFadden says that although you wouldn’t think it when listening to songs like “Caroline,” it’s not uncommon for the band to headbang onstage, for Spinnato to kick his cymbals over on stage and for McFadden to perform from the kick drum.

When we spoke with McFadden a few days before the festival, he didn’t want to give away too many of their show secrets, however. “We love to come to play for people and meet people afterward,” Mcfadden says. “Just make sure you come out and get ready for a rock ‘n’ roll show. Bring some earplugs.”

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