Most people know Derek Archambault as the unabated vocalist of Boston dark hardcore outfit DEFEATER (or around town in New Hampshire, he's the tall dude with the snappy Twin Peaks haircut that works at the record store). But many are unaware of the softer side of his musical repetoire. Archambault joined Defeater in 2008, and between rigorous bouts of international touring, has spent his free time living in Portsmouth, working at our local Bull Moose Music and recording tracks for twangy folk pop project ALCOA.
Alcoa's Bone & Marrow comes out on February 26 on Bridge 9 Records.
The cover of Bone & Marrow brandishes a key-shaped bone with a padlock over it, seemingly an invitation to hear Archambault's deeply personal thoughts and feelings, inside and out. The music is a complete departure from his previous musical efforts -- he drops his spit-and-sweat-soaked mic, unclenches his fists, and slings an acoustic guitar over his shoulder to spin stories and lull sad thoughts to sleep. Archambault says that his songs and albums are an amalgamation of fictional events with elements of his personal life appearing as characters or plot developments.
Defeater, it's a fictional story for the most part, set in a
different time period," he explains. "There are
pieces of me and my family and friends in that story arc, and Alcoa
is still storytelling, but different in the way that it's more
personal and honest, I guess. The songs are
mostly based on loss and regret, but that's also kind of what I write
about in Defeater anyways... Alcoa is just more tangible reality."
Archambault says that the musical inspiration for Alcoa came from a long-lasting passion for classic country and Americana music.
"About 10 years ago, that music really took a hold of me," says Archambault. "When I started
doing Alcoa stuff, I was listening to, like, Gram Parsons and Hank
Williams and big names like Johnny Cash, and then when I started working
[at Bull Moose], I was exposed to so much more and delved so much
deeper. I knew names like Buck Owens and Lefty Frizell, but I never took
to listen to those records, and about eight years ago when I started really
buying records like that, it just opened my brain up."
With a generous sprinkling of lapsteel guitar and banjo atop somber guitar chords and melancholy lyrics, it's not hard to tell where the inspiration for this album came from.
Though the record is full of songs made for slow dancing and hand-holding, Archambault shows no sign of slowing down -- the release of Bone & Marrow is just the start of what could be a very monumental year for the celebrated hardcore hero. Unfotunately for fans and future fans of Alcoa, this means no national tour, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get excited for the big things he has planned for this year.
"I guess the goal
for any record is you want to go out and support it, but with
Defeater being a full-time band and right when we're doing a record, it's tough," Archambault reasons.
"I guess this is the best and worst time for the record to come out;
it comes out right when Defeater goes into the studio, my fiancée and I are getting married in October, I'm going on Warped Tour this summer, so there's no
way to get out on the road and support it."