For a band that has spent a good portion of their time together on the road, releasing a new full length album in this year of non-touring may have dissuaded some, but on Great Peacock’s third release, Forever Worse Better, the band sounds tighter and surer of themselves than ever before. The Nashville-based musicians - front man/guitarist Andrew Nelson, guitarist/harmony vocalist Blount Floyd, and bass player Frank Keith IV have spent the last seven years developing as a band; from their early acoustic days to a full on rock outfit incorporating keyboards, electric guitars and their signature harmonies. Forever Worse Better is out now via Baldwin County Records/Soundly Music. I caught up with Andrew about writing this record, self-producing and making the Americana album chart.
AnaLee: Congratulations on the release of Forever Worse Better and landing on the Americana album chart. I know a record on the charts isn’t necessarily on the list of goals set forth when starting an album, but the recognition has got to feel good! From your first release, Making Ghosts through 2018’s Gran Pavo Real, both albums in heavy rotation for me, this one feels like you’ve really come into your own as a band. When did you start writing this record and was there something specific driving the inspiration for this one?
Andrew: In all honesty, being on the charts was a goal when we started the album, haha. The recognition has been very nice, and we are extremely grateful for the attention. We hope it can keep building! The songs for this album started coming around the end of 2018. I felt like we didn’t quite get to where we wanted to on our last album both sonically and lyrically. And, I also felt like maybe we had taken a small step back as a result of that. I could totally be imagining that, but the feeling was real to me. That was a huge factor in the creative direction for this album. That feeling of ambition and wanting to be better really fueled the lyrics and the music for Forever Worse Better. It being our 3rd album, we felt like we had to make something really special, and hopefully something that gives us a step up for the career we’ve been chasing. When you add that to my own personal romantic disarray at the time and a growing sense of mortality, you get the songs that ended up on the album. The album is about ambition. Not just in career, but in all facets of life.
AnaLee: You recorded most of the tracks at Nashville’s legendary Sound Emporium, live and you and Blount Floyd handled production duties. Tell us about the recording process, self-producing and some of the Nashville musicians you enlisted to help round out the sound.
Andrew: We made a conscious effort to self-produce this go around. We knew it would give us the freedom and time needed to chase what we were hearing in our head. It was little harder than I thought it would be, but I learned a lot and am very glad we did it. As you said, the basic tracks like drums, bass, rhythm guitars, and simple organ parts were done live at Sound Emporium. We cut extra keyboards in East Nashville at Paul Defiglia’s place. 99% of everything else we did at Blount’s house with him engineering. We were lucky to have great friends and great players on the album. Blount and I played the majority of the album’s guitars, but we also had some very tasteful help from some much better players! Steve Daly played slide, baritone, and some pedal steel. Adam Kurtz played most 90% of the pedal steel. His solo at the end of “Forever, Worse, or Better” gives me chill bumps. And, we had Sadler Vaden play a very crucial slide guitar part on “Heavy Load”, and electric guitar on “Rock of Ages” including a solo that’s a bit of a nod to Joe Walsh. It would also be unfair of me to not highlight the massive string part at the end of “Help Me Lord” that our buddy Adam Stewart remotely arranged and recorded in Alaska.
AnaLee: It has to be an entirely new type of challenge, releasing an album when you can’t tour to support it, but it seems like you’re getting more attention and accolades than in the past on this album. How have you been able to stay engaged with fans and spread the word for this release?
Andrew: We are very lucky right now to have a fantastic team of people working to make that happen! All of them such genuinely hard working and caring individuals. But, to answer your question beyond that, I have no idea, haha. We are kind of guessing and learning each day as we go.
AnaLee: Thanks for chatting with me about Forever Worse Better and for playing our new Virtual Finally Friday series. You pulled off a dynamic performance in a less than dynamic situation and I wanted to link to that performance below. What’s next for Great Peacock?
Andrew: Thank you for all the support you’ve given us! As far as what’s next, we’re just gonna keep hustling and doing our best. It’s probably time to start writing whatever’s next!
Great Peacock recorded live for WMOT’s Finally Friday
Ana Lee is on middays at WMOT, and is also the host of The Local Brew Hour, which airs Sundays at 7am and Mondays at 7pm on 89.5 WMOT and wmot.org.