Always Evolving: Eclectic sounds accompany The Rattlenecks new LP

Measha Vieth, photos by Andrea Paulseth

TAKING IT TO THE STREET. Jim Pullman-fronted Eau Claire rockers The Rattlenecks will have a new album – Heart Lies – out on June 4.
TAKING IT TO THE STREET. Jim Pullman-fronted Eau Claire rockers The Rattlenecks will have a new album – Heart Lies – out on June 4.

As sweet summer days approach, so do nights around the campfire, beer in hand, reminiscing with friends.  What’s also quickly approaching is The Rattlenecks’ new album, Heart Lies, which drops on June 4.

Filled with lush layers of sound, there are songs for everyone to enjoy, from the title track, an indie-modern feeling tune to “Fog Horn Love Affair” and its Motown soul vibe to “Sunday,” a country-tinged folk song showing off their ear-pleasing harmonies. This is the band’s second album, with a completely different feel than the first.

“I think we’ve evolved as lyricists, writers of melody in general. It feels like a more mature record,” said Jim Pullman (guitar/vocals). Songs address relationship struggles with deeper meanings, leading to heavier lyrical material than on their first album, which was a touch more whimsical.

The Rattlenecks started a couple of years ago when Jim’s longtime friend Todd Barneson (guitar/vocals) moved back to Eau Claire to raise his family. They played and wrote a little, not wanting to start anything serious, just having fun and continuing to collaborate as they have since grade school. Soon, after dreaming of three-part harmonies, Gabe Koxlien (keys/guitar/vocals) joined in. As full-on writing progressed, the band welcomed bassist Ethan Schmidt and drummer Davy Sumner, and now, Adam Nussbaum.

With more members this time around came a livelier opportunity for their second album to flourish. “We really focus on vocal harmony. We all kind of grew up listening to stuff with vocal harmonies so we really gravitate towards that,” Jim said. “It’s kind of our thing.” However, the album offers a whole lot more than vocal harmonies. “There is a bit more going on with the sound structures,” Ethan said. Jim added: “Soundscapes, keyboards, lush layers upon layers of stuff, as opposed to just five guys playing in a room.”

Almost every member of the band contributed a song. Heart Lies is the definition of a full-band approach. Not only did they all contribute songs, they also recorded the entire thing themselves at Chad and Jen Dalhoe’s home, which houses an intimate studio referred to as The Cave. It took about two solid weeks of work total over the course of a year and a half. “With everyone’s schedules, we are really happy with how it turned out,” Ethan said. Barneson engineered, mixed, and produced the whole album before passing it along to Bruce Templeton at Microphonic Mastering for the mastering process.

The Rattlenecks have a tight-knit bond not only as a band, but as friends, which makes creating music that much more exciting. “I think with this band, the very cool part of it is we all just really like hanging out. I think if we weren’t playing music, we’d just hang out to see what’s new. So, it’s very cool to truly like spending time together and be in a group with these guys,” expressed Jim. Three of the members grew up in Eleva-Strum, making it a second home for the band. They look forward to performing their release show at Broilerfest on June 4. “It feels important to give it to them first because they are so supportive to us every time we play down there.” Jim said.

Reminiscing on the creation of Heart Lies, Jim and Ethan expressed their excitement to share it with everyone via vinyl, CDs, digital, Spotify, iTunes – you name it. “This is a foray into recording and producing everything ourselves. We love the way it sounds and can’t wait to see how much better we can get with our next album,” Ethan said. As musicians, The Rattlenecks’ members are involved in many other creative groups. Continuously evolving and perfecting their skills as well as their passion for music is what keeps them cranking out tunes to share with you.

Check out The Rattlenecks Heart Lies release show in Eleva-Strum at Broilerfest on June 4 and their Eau Claire release on June 8 at the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series in Phoenix Park.

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