Hobo Starseed’s New Concept Album Comes From The Perfect Puzzle

The idea of producing a musical work in several parts goes back a long time.

But in the 20th century we were graced with examples on vinyl – which led to a whole other kind of experience. Storytelling in poetry put to music and directing it straight into the ears with headphones to listen for all the nuances added in the studio. The concept album was born from the desire to release a story to the world in a revolutionary new way.

And it ushered in a whole new sensory culture surrounding music!

Photo courtesy of Rolling Stone

Many concept albums have enlightened our past: Sgt Pepper, Pet Sounds, Days Of Future Passed, Dark Side Of The Moon, Dog & Butterfly, and Operation: Mindcrime. Younger generations steer towards single songs and away from the experience of the entire album. But there is a movement back – like the act of playing LPs and recording without computers – to a world when buying an album was an event for the soul and the mind.

Hobo Starseed has embraced the dynamic by releasing Farewell Tour – a full-length concept album telling the story of a homeless man.

Hobo Starseed

Chris Grandy provides the engineering, lead guitar, and supporting vocals. Conner Hancock plays bass, Wes Hampson is on the drums, and Frankie McCabe provides lead vocals and supporting guitar work.

Frankie and Chris were the primary creative forces behind their original material; as a band they first connected earlier this year. “First practice was LOUD,” Conner said smiling.

Chris went for a light mix for heavy rock – a sound that is catchy and right on the ear. Rock heavy with light mix. Final mastering was done by the legendary Jack Endino. But the team’s creativity didn’t end there! Since January, Chris and Frankie have been filming a silent picture with subtitles to go along with Farewell Tour – using it as a soundtrack. Filming has been in Seattle and surrounding areas like Goldbar. Some of the footage was even captured in a local tent city.

Hobo Starseed

Farewell Tour starts in the man’s childhood. He’s a person who’s had everything handed to him, and holds a very high opinion of himself. “Narcissistic,” Frankie explained, “but not a bad guy.” When he gets out into real life, he realizes the world isn’t falling at his feet. He experiences an evolution, becomes desperate for notoriety, and dreams of becoming a rock hero like Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison – bright fires who died young and way too early. The music is melodious at first, but then the erratic elements are introduced. The middle of the work is a contrast to an even more chaotic end. Odd melodies, tri-tones and horns are introduced to evoke a stronger sense of emotion.

The Seed by Hobo Starseed

While some might call their connection for this project as a Perfect Storm, I talked with the band members along the lines of The Hobo Puzzle instead!

Each member brought multiple elements and influences to the team, and it was clear that everyone enjoyed hanging out as friends. That may seem like a small thing to some; but a critical key to a band’s ability to create and thrive starts with being able to enjoy each other’s company. Rush was like a trio of 8th graders whenever they got together socially – until Neal Peart’s passing.nearly five decades after they first met.

The Hobo Puzzle is how each member helped complete the others – like pieces in a puzzle. Frankie said she was four pieces: singer, writer, filmmaker, and keeper of the flame. Chris brought the technical, a sensible rock guitar background, and voice work that blends well with Frankie. Conner brought a seasoned approach to bass playing, and trained ear to sync with Wes on the drums. Wes tends to hear the power of Chris’ guitar work and matches the strike to bring the most out of the mood. And what about influences?

There are plenty.

The band mentioned Alice In Chains, Afghan Wigs, Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Rage Against The Machine, Helmet, Rush, “and Smashing Pumpkins,” Wes added. “But not as whiny.”

I would also add a couple other bands that I heard in their work, including Mary’s Danish and Sky Cries Mary.

Farewell Tour is most definitely a labor of love, and something Frankie and Chris feel strongly about. The release for the album is on May 20th, at Central Saloon – with Pent Up and Lovejoy Street.

Hobo Starseed at The Central Saloon on May 20th

Available as a CD for sale at the show, Farewell Tour will also be released electronically on Bandcamp the same day. I urge you to acquire a copy in some way shape or form, to experience what happens when original songwriting and profession musicianship come together and complete the puzzle. The concept album is alive and well, and in the hands of a generation that knows the power of following a heart instead of a trend. Farewell Tour will prove this to you.

Turn it up!