After years on the scene grind, Charleston indie-rock artist Pierce Alexander finally releases his debut EP today. Recorded at EastSide Manor Studios in Nashville, The Grand Scheme EP was produced and mixed by former Charlestonian Josh Kaler (Slow Runner) and Owen Biddle, who's a former member of The Roots. Performing on the record are Kaler, Biddle, Nathan Whitley, and Alexander. The album artwork is by Rachel Briggs.
We asked Alexander to tell us more about the EP — here's what he had to say:
"Nothing Will Change"
The first song on the EP, “Nothing Will Change,” was co-written by Nathan Whitley. It came to us one night when I was over at his place. Oddly enough, we really had no intention of writing a song that night. I mainly just came over so that we could practice. But after having a drink or two, we decided it was time to write something new. It wasn’t one of those songs that took a long time to write. We came up with the bones of the song in about thirty minutes. I came up with the lyrics between that night and the next time we got together and then we laid down the track. At the time when we wrote this, I already had a group of songs ready to go for the EP and this one was written just in time to put it on there.
Whenever Nathan and I collaborate, things just kind of work. We have been making music together for a long time and this makes the song-writing process go much more smoothly. We can bounce ideas off of each other and we are honest about what we do and don’t like.
"In the Grand Scheme"
The song, “In the Grand Scheme” was inspired by a trip to New Orleans. I hadn’t really written many songs on piano before but I found that my song-writing took some new directions when I wrote on an instrument other than guitar.
It’s no accident that the EP is named after this song. I felt like the concept of it was a good representation of what the whole record is about.
Josh and Owen really helped bring this song to life. We wanted the piano to take up a lot of real estate so Josh tweaked the sound in a way that really helped to characterize the whole track. I wanted to create a solid combination of natural and modern musical elements with this one. Josh’s lo-fi sounding drums mixed with Owen’s synth bass definitely did the trick. One of my favorite moments was when I got to play the guitar solo on a Jazzmaster.
"Different Sides" was released as the single off of the EP on June 14 via Charleston Scene
. It was the first song that I wrote out of the four. I wrote it almost a full year ago and for me it represents a shift in my music from where I was then until I recorded the full EP this spring.
Not only was it the first song that I wrote, but it was also the first song we recorded in the studio. Before recording anything, the four of us played the song together as a band several times. This way, when we did record, we were all really locked in with each other. We were going for a heavier sound, with Josh’s punchy drums and Nathan and I’s overdriven guitars, but I think the icing on the cake was Owen’s quirky synth contributions and solid bass playing.
"If Fate is Kind"
Nathan and I recorded an unfinished demo of “If Fate is Kind” prior to going to Nashville. Despite it being unfinished, we ended up keeping the electronic drum track from the demo for the final version of the song. The most interesting part about this one was the bass. I originally thought the song would have bass guitar but when Owen was testing out one of the microphones singing his bass part, Kaler immediately heard potential and we ended up recording that and keeping it. I think it was possibly the happiest accident we could’ve had. The acoustic guitar plus Josh playing a real organ helped give the song a lot of character as well. Each of us did an individual take of us singing the “ooo”s in the bridge.
If "Fate is Kind" wraps up the EP with the message that life is full of unexpected turns but things will turn out the way they are supposed to in the end.
Listen to The Grand Scheme EP
above. It is now available on all platforms.
You can catch Pierce Alexander performing songs from the EP at Tin Roof this Sat. July 21 with Infinitikiss and Daddy Lion.
An official EP release show is scheduled for Fri. Sept. 7 at Queen Street Playhouse as part of Awendaw Green's Queen Street Harmony Series. Orange Doors and Midnight Endeavor will open.