Steamboat Pilot & Today : The Nadas Chronicle 2009

Steamboat Pilot & Today : The Nadas chronicle 2009 as they approach 16th anniversary : Full Article

Steamboat Springs — When Mike Butterworth and Jason Walsmith, of the Iowa-based Americana rock band The Nadas, say they’re currently working on a record called the “Almanac” studio project, the timestamp isn’t an exaggeration.

“When we say currently working on it, I’m standing in front of a microphone where I’m supposed to be doing vocal takes,” Walsmith said by phone from the band’s studio, where The Nadas will lay down 12 tracks in 2009, one for each month.

Walsmith and Butterworth said they likely will play the songs already recorded for that project in a Thursday show at Ghost Ranch Saloon. Music starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $8 in advance and $12 on the day of the show.

The Nadas started more than 15 years ago when Walsmith and Butterworth were in school. They shared a musical dynamic that Butterworth — acknowledging that he’s about to use a cliché — describes this way: “He was a little bit country; I was a little bit rock ’n’ roll.” On records, that meant Walsmith brought an alt-country, folk element to the songs, while Butterworth infused them with rock ’n’ roll energy.

Through the mid-90s, that Americana sound moved closer to flat-out rock and since has drifted back toward its folk roots. On stage, the high-energy rock element always stands center, Butterworth and Walsmith said.

On “Almanac,” fans can track Butterworth and Walsmith’s every songwriting move and watch as tracks come together with guitarist Ross Vanderwerf, drummer Ian Shepherd and longtime bassist Jon Locker.

“For us, it’s always been about an interaction and relationships with our fans, and technology is really breaking down those barriers and making that easier to do,” Walsmith said. Fans can chat with one another about the songs as they’re created, watch videos of mixing sessions and listen to the completed cuts as they’re released. The exposure can be strange at times, Butterworth said.

Working “is really weird when you’re sitting around in your jimmies eating cereal and writing a song. It’s like the Internet ‘Real World,’” he said. Still, the creative process has stayed pretty much the same, and the musicians hope their end result will be an album subtly influenced by the way it was made.

“It’s not like we’re ambulance chasers and we’re just watching the news for song ideas,” Walsmith said. “It’s more that I hope the seasons or what’s going on affects the songs.”

Some vague examples have popped up six months into the experiment, but Walsmith hopes the most noticeable traces will be something he sees when he takes a step back from the work.

Ideally, the evolution of “Almanac” will look the same to the founding members of The Nadas as the evolution of their band: a melding of the best parts of their own musical tastes, with changes that are present but are noticeable only from a distance.

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