Brothers Ben and Michael Ford Jr. of Nashville have quickly built an impressive collection of music since forming the band Airpark early last year. Their lyrically-focused indie rock benefits from a typically minimalist approach, but when they opt for full instrumentation, their songwriting proves fitting for early ‘70s grooves and rosy vocal harmonies.
After a formative tour and the release of two counterpart EPs, the duo has launched their own label, Eugenia Hall Records. Now they’re set to release their next EP on October 12. Before the debut, Airpark set out on tour, and are bound for Saturn on October 10. We had a few questions for Michael ahead of their show:
Magic City Bands: What can we expect from the new EP?
Michael Ford Jr: The new EP is entitled Songs of Airpark. The five tunes on the EP were produced by Pat and Alaina from Tennis. Ben and I drove out to Denver and recorded these songs with them over the course of about eight days out at their studio, Mutually Detrimental. And it was a blast. We all lived together for the entirety of the process…sharing almost every meal together and hanging before/after tracking sessions. It was a strong communal vibe – one of the best recording scenarios you could hope to find yourself in.
In terms of the music, for anyone familiar with Airpark’s writing style, the songs are still very much “us” but with a ‘70s tinge to the production. The combination of both made for a unique sound that seemed to find us all naturally while we were recording the material.
MCB: Is there anything you wanted to do differently than Early Works?
MF: Honestly, no not really. When the band first began, we had a very intentional plan to release two EPs in ’17 and play over 100 shows. Doing so was incredibly rigorous but it helped us establish momentum early on and helped us cut through some of the noise.
MCB: Did your inspirations or attitudes change between the writing of Early Works 1 and 2?
MF: The sonic shift between Volume 1 and 2 has to do with happenstance more than anything. When we went into the studio to make Volume 1, the idea was to be able to present the songs as a two piece on tour, which is why they are so minimal. Once we started touring on that release though, we thought the songs/show might benefit from a little more instrumentation around them, so we started touring with a keys player and drummer.
While touring in that formation, we introduced new material and many of those new songs found their way onto Volume 2. The new material presented in a “full band” configuration felt great and it seemed counter intuitive to purposefully make things minimal just so that it would match the exact aesthetic of Volume 1. So we let the sound grow and tracked the songs on Volume 2 pretty closely to how they are performed live. It’s sounds more like a “band” recording and that felt to be the best way to serve the songs.
MCB: What was the attitude behind “Yours Till I Die?”
MF: The song is about yearning to be with someone. It was inspired by a relationship that I was in, that I felt had ended too early. I’m really proud of how the lyrics turned out for it. I wanted it be highly descriptive/visual and tell the story without coming off too “sweet.”
MCB: It sounds like the encounter in “Blue Eyed Spaniard” could’ve happened. What’s the story there?
MF: Ben penned that tune. It’s was inspired by a friend of his, who despite a language barrier, fell in love with a Spanish woman while traveling Europe. Ben’s friend and this woman were both unable to speak each other’s respective languages but there was an instant connection between them that superseded the need to be able to communicate with language. It was an inspiring thing for him to witness and the song followed.
MF: How did you guys start making music together? How did that become a touring duo?
MF: We started playing and making music together when we were very young, around 10 or 11. Ben got a guitar and I wanted to be in on it (but different, ha) so I got a bass. It’s been a shared passion since then. As soon as we discovered music, it very immediately felt like what we needed to do and has felt that way ever since.
MCB: You’re not twins?
MF: We aren’t, but it very much feels that way though. We’re 16 months apart, almost Irish twins.
MCB: What lead you to start Eugenia Hall Records?
MF: We wanted to have a home for the music we released. We both like the idea of creating a “world” for our music to live in, creating a label with its own identity/branding helps us get closer to that goal. Also, we can release music on our timeline, a freedom we are very appreciative of.
Airpark performs at Saturn this Wednesday, October 10 with Babe Club and Skinny Dippers. The music starts at 8 p.m. Saturn is located at 200 41st Street South, Birmingham, AL. You can order tickets here.
Photo by Citizen Kane Wayne.