The Manhattan-hailing genre-bending indie band, The High Plains Drifters, surprise-released their latest uplifting 6-track EP as a thank you to fans entitled, 'Songs of Love and Loss.'
The spirits embodying The High Plains Drifters met after a night on the town drinking a little too much booze. At that tex-mex spot in Manhattan, The High Plains Drifters found themselves in need of creating a group due to their like-minded creative abilities. The High Plains Drifters comprises Larry Studnicky, John Macom, Mike DoCampo, Kyle Cassel, Charles Czarnecki, and Dave Richards.
Now releasing their latest 6-track EP, 'Songs of Love and Loss,' The High Plains Drifters are excited to introduce this new and thought-provoking era to their fanbase. "If I've done my job well, and if our music is catchy enough to hold a listener through a song's conclusion, then most people will (I hope) sit back after hearing a High Plains Drifters tale and say, 'Yeah, I've been there. That was me once. Thanks for the memories,'" shared frontman Larry Studnicky.
Jumping into the project, we're greeted with the introductory track, "The One That Got Away," which was a successful previously released single. Listening to the song, it opens with sparkling synths that jump into the energetic verse with Studnicky's low and warm vocals alongside the band's dense instrumentals and overall groovy feel. As Studnicky continues to sing of the one that got away, the band's entire instrumental backs him up with this nostalgic 80s synth pop feel and their groovy arrangements. This song is a brighter approach to sharing one's emotions regarding a lost love.
Moving onto track #2, "Since You've Been Gone," we must mention that there's a running theme of naming their songs after classic pop songs, but we're not sure if this was intentional. The song opens with another bright and beaming synth arrangement that takes us through the celestials above. As The High Plains Drifters begin to soothe us with their calming and peaceful instrumentals, Studnicky begins to vocalize his emotions for someone who's left him in the past. We adore the emotion and passion within this single, as it lets the listener contemplate where their heart is at.
Jumping into the next track, "Ruby Run Away With Me," we're met with a calming acoustic guitar, glittering background synths, and Studnicky's low and charismatic vocal stylings. As he begins to embody this country flair, the song makes its way over to the bright hook with beaming electric guitars, upbeat drum breaks, and soothing background vocals. We love the energetic take that The High Plains Drifters have placed on a song about wanting to run away with someone dear, as they give us all the courage to flee our everyday lives and be with the one we love.
Moving past the EP's halfway point with "Nuclear Winter," we're greeted with eerie sirens that wail in the background while a low and crashing plane flies overhead and leads us into The High Plains Drifters' alluring instrumentals. We love the intense approach of this track, as it emphasizes this sort of apocalyptic scenario that's bound to come. As The High Plains Drifters continue to drench us in their dense, rhythmic, and heavy instrumentals, frontman Studnicky sings of wondering how to get out of this tragic situation that we might have to face sooner than later.
Reaching the next track, "Jennifer Aniston (Why Are You Single?)," the song instantly takes off into one of the grooviest and upbeat tracks on the EP. The song's lively synth-pop beat and arrangements bring us into the heart of the dancefloor while lead vocalist Studnicky begins to sing a passionate and comical tale of wondering why Ms. Aniston is still single. As he invites her to mingle with him, The High Plains Drifters continue their energetic performance and send us into a dazzling sonic atmosphere with each lively synth arrangement and catchy melody.
Landing on the project's spicy and sexy outro track, "He Reminds Me Of You," the song opens with an alluring sonic arrangement that brings us into a heated listening experience. This time around, a featured female vocalist takes center stage and begins to depict a passionate endeavor alongside Studnicky's passionate and gripping stylings. We truly adore the sexual and exciting contrast between the featured vocalist and Studnicky's performances. This is the perfect song to close this lively and dynamic album, especially as The High Plains Drifters sink us into their dizzying sonic atmosphere that closes the EP on a bright and magnetic note.
Overall, we love the lively spin that The High Plains Drifters have taken with their EP, 'Songs of Love and Loss,' and we encourage you to experience the well-rounded project for yourself. Now available on all digital streaming platforms.
Thank you for catching up with us at BuzzMusic The High Plains Drifters, and congratulations on releasing your lively and exciting EP, 'Songs of Love and Loss.' Why did you decide to fuel the project with such upbeat songs, even though the theme surrounds love and loss?
Larry Studnicky: We started recording these songs about three months after COVID hit. A year later, we released the 6-song EP in June 2021. We wanted all the songs on the EP to be up-tempo no matter their themes and held back from putting any of the few ballads on the EP. After 16 months of worldwide hell, we wanted to give our listeners a reason to bounce in their car seats, tap their toes, bang their steering wheel, and open their car windows and sing along and be happy. Besides, whether a song is about finding love or losing it, worshipping someone, or wishing them gone, something about the song should make your day brighter. It shouldn't be a whiny dirge. That's just my two cents. Love is always about optimism. Music should lift the soul and connect it to something "greater," not crush it.
What inspired the theme and concept for 'Songs of Love and Loss?' What moment or experience brought the EP's idea to life?
Larry: There are a couple of decades of experiences behind the EP, mostly from my prolonged single years in Manhattan of the 1980s and 1990s (before I finally almost grew up). Some of these songs – in whole or part – came fully or partly to life during those years. That would include "Since You've Been Gone," "The One That Got Away," "Nuclear Winter," and "She Reminds Me Of You." Back in those days, I'd get the lyrical ideas or the musical beginnings of many of my songs while just roaming aimlessly around Manhattan, alone, usually on some weekend afternoon. Things I'd see, or things I'd be thinking about, would trigger a lyric or some melody. That was the case with "Nuclear Winter" and "She Reminds Me Of You." On the flip side, "Since You've Been Gone" was my musical reaction to a crushing breakup where my heart was badly broken. "The One That Got Away" is a wistful ode to several gals I met after that breakup, who probably was "right" for me, but I wasn't ready to commit again. But then time passes, and you find yourself thinking, "Yeah, THAT girl – she was great. It might have worked with her. I wonder what's become of her?" The two songs of 100% current vintage – "Ruby Run Away With Me" and "Jennifer Aniston (Why Are You Single)" – were both inspired by women I've never met. I wrote "Ruby" in summer 2020 after the death of Kenny Rogers, who recorded what's probably the definitive version of Mel Tillis's tune "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)." Radio stations played that song a lot after Kenny's death. I found myself wondering about what might have happened to that Ruby years later. And, from that idea, the song just poured out of my head. Finally, we come to the longtime love of my life: Jennifer Aniston. I walked past a newsstand at the northern edge of Herald Square one day, some years ago, and the tabloids were ablaze with stories about how that fabulous, gorgeous actress inexplicably could not manage to lead that Justin fellow to the altar. Something just seemed totally wrong with that picture. I sang the first verse and chorus of the tune into my iPhone before I reached the southern edge of the square.
What did you want to make the listener feel when experiencing 'Songs of Love and Loss?' What feelings did you want to evoke?
Larry: I hope that most listeners will find something that's relatable to their own lives when they listen to our EP. Except for those few lucky couples who meet when young and remain each other's "one and only," most people have experienced the kind of crushing breakup (see "Since You've Been Gone") where, for a time, you won't even admit to your closest friends that it happened, because you still can't believe she's gone. Most of us also have had the kind of "near miss" with a person who, years later, you suspect could have been "the one" – if the stars had all aligned, etc., and so forth. I find it almost impossible to write lyrics that don't tell a story. And I always try to compose a story that will make listeners go, "Yeah, I've been there. I remember that feeling. Thanks for the memories." Except in the case of "She Reminds Me Of You." Its lyrics deliberately avoid speaking in "universal" terms. Because – and this is just a guess – I don't think most listeners have had any, or many, relationships of the sadomasochistic variety. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
How long was the EP' Songs of Love and Loss' in the making? How long did it take your group to finalize the project?
Larry: It took nine months. It was June 2020 when I decided, with scant scientific evidence, that COVID was not going to kill me. Armed with that confidence, I started driving every week from my home in Connecticut to the Upper West Side studio of Greg Cohen. He is both my longtime friend and the producer of The High Plains Drifters since we recorded the last half of our self-titled debut album. (Check it out on your favorite streaming service – there are some catchy tunes.) By March of this year, we had nine songs for our 2nd album in the can. As I answer these interview questions, The High Plains Drifters are about to head back into the studio to finish Album 2. We are about to add the backup vocals to the last two songs we've recorded, and then we'll move on to some editing and mixing. With luck, it'll be ready for mastering by Thanksgiving. I suspect that these last two songs – called "Until We Dance" and "Funny About Love" – are among the best we've ever done. The guys in the band really worked their magic on these songs. I cannot say enough about how lucky I am to work with this band: John Macom (guitarist), Mike DoCampo (guitarist), Charles Czarnecki (keyboards), Dave Richard (bass), and Kyle Cassel (drums, and he's our engineer as well). As well as Greg in the producer's chair. He co-writes much of the music. They're all way better musicians than I'll ever be as a lead vocalist, but somehow it works. These last two songs are upbeat and catchy and, like "Since You've Been Gone" and "The One That Got Away," they both pay homage to the great New Wave sound of the Eighties, which is the era in which most of the band became musically "alive."
Which song from 'Songs of Love and Loss' is your group's favorite, and why?
Larry: I can't answer that for everyone. I know that after we finished mixing "Ruby," we played it a few times. Really loud. Then, Mike DoCampo, Greg Cohen, Kyle Cassel, and I sat back and looked at each other and said, "Man, did that song become something amazing that not one of us could've foreseen when we began working on it together." That's the thing about the recording process that keeps me playing this frustrating game – the unforeseen lick, or musical phrase, or last-minute lyric change, that brings magic into the studio.
What's next for you?
Larry: I have a pile of Dictaphone cassette tapes awaiting me. They contain a ton of full songs, partial songs, and short lyrical or musical ideas for songs that, over the years, I wrote as I roamed around NYC on countless lazy afternoons. I've not visited with those tapes in years. I am very curious (and nervous) to hear what popped into my head. At Greg's urging, I am also going to take a shot at writing lyrics and melody to some musical tracks that he'll compose for that purpose. I've never written that way in the past. But I'll give it a go. All of this is in preparation for selecting the songs that will end up on High Plains Drifters No. 3. I expect that we'll start work on that album late in the second half of 2022. I want to say thank you, BuzzMusic, for showing HPD some love. As an unsigned indie band, we are really grateful to publications like yours that give the little people a shot.