photo by Raeann Danger
It was the day after Eros and the Eschaton had finished their debut album when the music stopped.
One day after the finishing touches on a record nearly two years in the making, and nearly two years after the birth of Lio Hawkins, the son of the band's Adam Hawkins and Katey Perdoni.
The album's 10 tracks, with a soundscape as wide as a starry, western Nebraskan sky, were ready to be heard as a completed work. But just one thing, Hawkins says.
"We literally had no more speakers in the house."
They'd blown them all to kingdom come. The culprit: a combination of poor quality speakers not being matched with proper amps, Hawkins says, adding that, yes, they were playing music way too loud. Fittingly so, when it comes to the record, Home Address For Civil War, which broadcasts honeyed vocals through sonic space junk collisions. This album isn't a sparkling clean followup to former Omaha band It's True.
"It’s less about my identity as a singer/songwriter and more of a communal thing, trying to share a vibrant something with people," Hawkins says.
Having lived in Nebraska before transplanting to Greensboro, N.C., Hawkins and Perdoni return to Omaha this Sunday to play a concert at Slowdown with Twinsmith and John Klemmensen and the Party. Next Wednesday, the band plays Duffy's Tavern for a KRNU presents show.
They'll be bringing with them a slightly mutated aural DNA, evident on the instrumental section of third cut "Don.t.look.so.sad," which includes "10 or 15 tracks of guitar annihilation," Hawkins says.
"It sounds like you’re driving down the interstate with one half of your car slammed into the guardrail, still going 85 miles an hour."
There's also an evolved sound on "You Know I Do," which Eros recorded for a Love Drunk session in May 2012. After three or four demos — among them, an acoustic, placid, smooth version — the song turned gritty and grinding. But it was still flat and lifeless, Hawkins says.
"Then Katey recorded this guitar take that just blew my mind when I heard it. It was in a world of its own, but it was so perfect, shrieking at all the right spots. The notes were bizarre but they all worked."
Underneath it all, sometimes sweetly audible, other times indecipherable in the mix, is Lio. As the duo recorded at their house in Greensboro, N.C., Lio would often sputter nonsense in the background, Perdoni says. On every track, he's there beneath the blankets of sound that pervade Home Address For Civil War.
"He’s getting groovier as he’s getting older," she says, just after Lio performed a dance for the Hawkins' family as they visited Iowa. "He might be more of a funk bassline now," and Hawkins agrees saying Lio’s inherent melody is quite bouncy, but smooth.
As Lio has grown, so too has the band. They say each song was a milestone for both the development of Eros and for their son. When asked what each half has learned about the other through songwriting, Perdoni says her husband's intelligence and patience comes through.
Hawkins notices his wife's gunslinger attitude of "just throwing it up there and letting it sort itself out."
Listeners can track the growth from the first track of Home Address For Civil War through to the end as the album is almost 100 percent chronological. The first song the duo wrote is the first track on the album, and the rest follows suit for the most part.
Hawkins says the sound became more refined over time, with arrangements being more in place as they sat down to record. When confronted with the task of translating the layers upon layers of sound to a live setting, the band conceded that replication isn't possible. With drummer Matt Arbeiter and guitarist Ben Zinn in tow, Eros and the Eschaton makes it a priority to be good onstage, but doesn't hope to recreate Home Address For Civil War note-for-note.
And riding along in the tour van — at least when friends are taking care of him — will be 2-year-old Lio, bouncy as ever. Just this week at a show, Perdoni was asked how she thinks Lio will respond to his parents' music when he gets older.
"When he’s a teenager, he’s probably going to hate it," she told the concertgoer, who then reminded Perdoni to think further ahead. "'Think about what he'll say when he's 30, think about what he'll say about his upbringing when he's our age.'"
Touring across the country and singing on an album before you can form sentences? Now there's an upbringing that deserves good notes.
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He can't remember his 2-year-old days, but he's probably somewhere on a 1991 album. Likely with N.W.A. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.