Joshua Barton had a huge revelation back in 1999 after stumbling upon a record by Spiritualized, an English neo-psychedelia band. Further digging led him to Spacemen 3 albums, and a crop of other loud, droning, and feedback-ridden tunes — a genre known as “shoegaze.”
Since then, Barton (guitar/vocals) has fronted Fields of Industry, a band that’s evolved from a bedroom recording project into a five-piece group with an enormous sound. The current line-up also includes Eric Gallippo (lead guitar), Ed Golembiewski (bass), Joel Skene (guitar, keys), Jacob Walbridge (drums) and occasional appearances by violinist Mark Wallace.
The latest release “Trouble House,” a follow-up to 2008’s “Two Dogs, A Television,” is the band’s most in-depth and amped-up album to date. It’s available on Arts vs Entertainment (AvE), an indie label operated by the band.
The record switches between spacey and atmospheric tones, to stomping fuzz guitars and Rolling Stones-style jams. A standout track on the album, “I’ve Never Been to New York,” shows Barton’s multilayered vision in a nutshell.
“I think that song encapsulates what happens on the rest of the album,” Barton said. “There are some ambient and experimental elements and there’s straight ahead rock. Then it ends with Eric flipping out with guitar solos, and fades out into an ambient wash. Those are the elements that make up all the other songs on the album.”
The album features all five band members, plus four outside contributors, including cellist Kaylan Mitchell. Gallippo, who joined the group in 2003, said “Trouble House” is a genuine studio album, recorded by Brandon Wiard at Pretty Suite Recording in Ypsilanti.
“After the initial tracks were recorded live we took our time tracking overdubs, mixing and tweaking,” said Gallippo, a former City Pulse editor and occasional contributor. “Some songs were written years before; others were done pretty much on the spot, but everything came together to have this unified tone. The album progresses in a very seamless way thanks in part to the inclusion of segues. It covers a range of sounds and emotions: joy, longing, dread and hope.”
Barton said the energetic melodies and recent line-up changes have also changed Fields of Industry’s live sound.
“It’s taken on more of a rock vibe, like the louder elements of Velvet Underground,” he explained. “Also, I haven’t been able to stop listening to (The Rolling Stones’) ‘Exile on Main Street’ for the past year so I think that also has something to do with the live sound. Not with that kind of virtuosity, but we aspire to that kind of swagger."
“We’ve gotten a lot louder — that’s the main difference,” Barton added. “We used to be a very quiet live band. People who haven’t seen us for a few years are pretty surprised when they come and check us out.”
Not only has the live sound evolved, the songwriting process has also somewhat transformed. While the band is still rooted around Barton’s songs, recently the other members have been collaborating on tunes.
“Typically a song starts with an idea from Josh,” Gallippo said. “Sometimes it’s a full song with some arranging already done, sometimes just a chord progression or two. The vocal melody is usually there from the start and we build to suit that. Then everyone else just kind of fills in with different textures, tones and supporting melodies and arrangement ideas.”
While it’s been 12 years since Barton first became enamored with shoegaze and ambient pop music he said it’s still a primary guidance on his writing and recording, though he continues to seek out new and experimental sounds.
“The heavily reverberated elements are the primary source of influence from that sound,” Barton said. “But I’ve also been interested in the recent noise and ambient stuff, like White Rainbow and Wolf Eyes.
“I first heard Spiritualized around the time I started Fields of Industry — that could have very well been the inspiration to create the band. The idea of doing something that beautiful with rock and roll was a revelation to me.”
Fields of Industry
p.m. doors, 9 p.m. music Friday, Feb. 25. (SCENE) Metrospace. 110 Charles
St., East Lansing w/ Gnome Village, Fighting Unlucky $5, all ages show