GOSHEN — Nate Butler has a vision for his newest project Shiny Shiny Black.
Though not there yet, the group took a big step this year with the April release of it’s debut feature-length album “Travelers.”
The band formed in 2011 with Brian Chris on bass and Anna P. Sherck on second guitar with Butler as lead guitarist and front man.
The demands of his own business and playing with Shiny Shiny Black forced Chris to leave the group.
But Butler didn’t have to look far for a replacement as his wife Amber took over bass duties.
The married couple previously played together in the band JRL from 2005 to 2007.
“For this project, we had a pretty strong vision of what we wanted to do when we got in the studio,” Nate Butler said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Butler went back to his roots to record “Travelers.” He worked with producer Tim Bushong at his studio in Syracuse. Some recording was also done at The Goshen Theater where Butler has worked.
Butler first recorded with Bushong 20 years ago in Butler’s first band.
“We went to Tim’s studio and really took our time,” Butler said of “Travelers.” “We got it as close as it could be to what we want.”
Getting it just the right way was important to Butler.
“I’ve been in music industry for a long time, I’ve come to a place where I feel like a visionary usually drives projects,” Butler said.
Butler wrote the lyrics, arranged the music as well as earned a co-producer credit on Travelers.
The result is a driving and earnest rock record. The opener “Look Me in the Eyes” has a bit of a Wilco feel to it but stands on it’s own as a perfect way to open a debut album.
Other standout tracks from the album include “Lights On” and “Wayfaring Stranger.”
Though a debut album, Butler’s time in the music business and eclectic influences and background gives “Travelers” more of a polish and sense of direction than many debuts.
Looking backand forward
Nate Butler said he moved around Elkhart County a lot as a kid. A 1995 Elkhart Memorial graduate, Butler’s constant new surroundings may have played a part in his openness to all genres of music.
“I grew up playing in churches, in my teens I was in a thrash metal band and played with hip hop guys, Butler said.
Butler uses bands like Wilco and The Black Keys more as guideposts to what Shiny Shiny Black’s music is rather than as a way to describe the sound.
Not really looking to be boxed in by genre, Butler wants to see Shiny Shiny Black evolve.
“I’d love to get to a place where we’re a bit more collaborative. I’d love to grow a national presence. I really think our music is worth listening to.”
But Shiny Shiny Black faces the same issues a lot of other bands trying to build a following do.
There’s the economics of it. Cross-country tours and full-time jobs don’t mix well.
So the shows the band does book need to be within driving distance.
The Butlers also have a child with another on the way.
Butler said tonight’s show at the Nappanee Apple Festival is special for many reasons. But chief among them is the fact Amber is expecting.
“This is going to be one of our last shows for the year,” said Butler.
“I guess it’s hard to play bass when you’re carrying a kid,” said Butler through a laugh.
Another special aspect to tonight’s show is that Butler’s friend Justin Burrell is coming down from Michigan to play drums.
This will free up Butler who typically plays guitar and a bass drum during live shows.
“I can engage with audience more,” Butler said. “The main thing is it detaches my feet so I can do a few more things with my guitar in terms of effects.”
By having a drummer at tonight’s show, Shiny Shiny Black will look closer to the vision Butler has for the band.
But Butler will remain patient. And focus on the remaining shows before the group takes a baby break.
“We’ve got a couple little surprises lined up for people,” said Butler of tonight’s performance. “It’s really important for us to put on a good live show.”
For more information on the band or to stream “Travelers” visit www.shinyshinyblack.com.
Follow Daniel on Twitter @DRiordan_TGN
If you want to go...
Shiny Shiny Black, along with Driftwood and The Tumbleweed Jumpers, will appear on the CenturyLink Stage/Leadership Park at the Nappanee Apple Festival tonight at 5:30 p.m. It’s an all-ages show.