A year before the pandemic, local musician Henry Chadwick flew home from Southern California stressed out, overworked, and head buzzing with lyrics for a new song. What inspired the exhaustion was the musicians trade show NAMM, which he worked as part of Universal Audio. After a week of non-stop conversations, he felt the need to shut off completely. That is, except for the lyrics swirling in his mind that described his feeling coming off of this tiring trip.
“It’s a blast, but it was also overstimulation,” Chadwick says. “At the end of the week of a lot of conversations, you are left feeling like a little bit of a fool.”
The lyrics he wrote that day became “Bloodshot,” the opening track off of his new album, We All Start Again. “Bloodshot” is a melancholy folk-rock song that almost feels like a commentary on an ancient time, millions of years ago, when we all had busy lives, and no one imagined the world shutting down.
But back in 2019, Chadwick wasn’t just worn out from NAMM. For quite a while he’d been juggling a busy schedule that involved work, making music, touring, and no time for much else. When everything shut down in 2020, part of him felt relief that he could take a break. “Bloodshot” manages to capture the business of his pre-pandemic life, and the internal sadness it gave him.
“In 2019, and leading into the beginning of 2020, I was spread thin, and mentally exhausted,” Chadwick says. “It was a weird silver lining in the whole thing to get a chance to rest because all you were supposed to do was hunker down. The circumstances that created that were obviously not good.”
We All Start Again comes about a year after he intended its release. And it probably would have been an EP. At the end of 2019 he flew to Brooklyn to record six tracks at the now-defunct Refuge Recording Studio, an in-house recording studio owned by his record label Swoon City Records. Amid the pandemic, however, with there no longer being a rush, he and Swoon City decided to push the record back and expand it into an LP.
“The whole timeline just changed,” Chadwick says. “Take advantage of the restraints. Hunker down and work on stuff more. Everything shut down, so there was a lot of free time.”
The record is diverse, with some songs having been written before the pandemic, some written during, and some a blend. The tunes cover a range of emotions, with the pandemic songs tending to be calmer and evoking a greater sense of relief, juxtaposed with the stress and sadness of the pre-pandemic tunes. It’s also softer than his prior recordings.
“Sadness and melancholy, that’s always been in my music. But I have an impulse to sprinkle other things like anger or humor. [Now] it’s a pretty exhaustive world out there,” Chadwick says. “I like the idea of having a consistent sort of thread and sound running through a group of songs. And I wanted to make a pretty-sounding album that didn’t necessarily have to rock as hard. Next time I’ll make a full-on punk album. I don’t know.”
The album was finished for a while, but Chadwick didn’t want to release it until he could book a tour to promote it. His tour began on Nov. 5, including Mariposa, Sacramento, Chico, Blue Lake, and other towns. His final show on the run is right here in Santa Cruz.
“We’ll be getting warmed up for everybody,” Chadwick says. “Booking a tour was interesting because we had to book really far in advance and it’s trickier because restrictions were tight, and the numbers were sketchy. By the time we locked in the whole tour, it was like, it’s very fun. There’s a lot of towns we’ve never been to.”
Henry Chadwick performs at 9pm on Saturday, Nov. 13 at Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz. $12/$15. 831-429-6994.