2016-07-21 / News

An Overnight Low finishes trilogy, video in the works

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

OLD ORCHARD BEACH,BIDDEFORD, SACO – A local band is working on its third album, the final of a three-album series of audio journals named for train stations in the United Kingdom.

Old Orchard Beach man Chad Walls, who grew up in Biddeford and founded the band An Overnight Low, said the album, “Waverley,” will recount his experiences living in Edinburgh, Scotland, while earning his doctorate degree in education at the University of Manchester.

Walls said living in Scotland for a year, he was inspired by the culture.

“I took a huge leap of faith because it was a year that I wasn’t working, I had no income, had a year to write 400 pages, and I was living in an amazing town with culture and amazing things going on every day,” Walls said. “I literally lived among theaters and pubs.”

Walls said he took notes on what he saw, almost poem fragments, with the intention of recasting them as songs when he returned. The band’s first two albums, “Euston” and “Piccadilly,” also recount Walls’ emotional journey in regular transit between train stations far from home yet while falling in love with a foreign place.

For “Waverley,” Walls said he presented the band with 15 songs that he played on the ukulele to allow his bandmates a chance to help decide which ones to record.

“They chose some that I didn’t think they would like and discarded some I thought they would really like,” Walls said. “Then we spent the winter work shopping them.”

Walls said Michael Murphy, a Saco man who also grew up in Biddeford, has brought a different element to the band since joining as its new drummer a year ago.

“I kind of approached this from pop sensibilities, but he sometimes will listen to what we’re doing and get in the middle of it and approach it from a different perspective,” Walls said. “He’s got a little bit of Stewart Copeland in him.”

“Chad’s a very creative writer,” Murphy said. “I’m not one to speak to his chordwriting choices, but I really enjoy his lyrics. He brings really creative ideas but allows us to put our own little stamp on them.”

“Although (Walls) started on drums, I think he doesn’t always think like a drummer,” Murphy added. “He has some groove ideas and then says, ‘give me something different than that.’ ”

Walls said he never intended for An Overnight Low to be a performing band; it was primarily going to record the three albums. However, the current band members have a great relationship with each other and the band finds itself playing in Portland area clubs about once a month.

Walls said the songs the band chose to record for “Waverley” all seem to be centered around festivals that occur in Edinburgh, and primarily the Fringe Festival.

“The festival takes over the entire city for a month,” Walls said. “Because the band chose those songs, I’m going out to Scotland to film the festival to cobble together a music video.”

Walls said one of the songs, “Jazz Held the Traffic Back,” everyone in the band liked immediately.

“It’s about how I was kind of a local at that point, was living there, and the population increases by a third for almost a month and the locals are all kicked out of their spots,” Walls said. “It’s a song about how roads are cut off and people who have their normal seat at the pub don’t have it anymore.”

Walls said when he attends the festival this year, he’ll be visiting friends he made while living there and hand-delivering to them copies of “Piccadilly.”

“I’ll want to be in the middle of the Fringe Festival. They’ll do everything to avoid it,” he said.

Walls said the addition six months ago of Murphy’s wife, Tina Nadeau Murphy, on piano, organ and vocals, has also improved the band.

“When we play live now, there are at least three-part harmonies on almost all the songs.”

The band still has Sam Anderson and Chris Mayo on guitar, and vocals by Mac Coldwell, who also appeared on “Piccadilly.” Walls plays bass.

Now that the three-album series is near completion, Walls said the band needs to determine what to write about next.

“Alright, so what do we do next? We really like being in a band together and we’re going to continue,” he said. “If somehow, we do something in Ireland, we might (write about) a train station in Ireland down the road … As a band, we get along really well. It will be like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and then we’ll just decide to do ‘The Hobbit.’”

Walls said although the band plays locally, they seem have more support across “the pond,” where radio stations will play the band’s songs in their regular rotations and add them to their Spotify playlists or even Top 10 song lists.

Walls said he will meet with the DJs that have supported the band’s music, while in Scotland this summer.

“It’s interesting because I wrote an album about their city. They’re very keen on seeing what this is going to be about. There’s a little curiosity there … In Edinburgh, people are welcoming, but the city commands your respect. There are cannonballs still stuck in the sides of city buildings.”

Walls said some of the displacement themes Walls wrote about while living in a foreign city translate into the band’s dynamics.

“There’s still a displacement. Members of my band have traveled but have never met or seen things that I’ve written about. It’s kind of a dream of mine to get them over there and show them, ‘Here’s what I wrote about, here it is.’ It would be so cool at the end of all this to do a journey where the band gets to see all the places and meet the people.”

“All three records are about being in between, trying and being pulled in different directions. When I was living in Edinburgh, I knew that my journey was ending there and was kind of sad about coming back. I think I made myself feel better through this project.”

The band’s next performance will be at the Thirsty Pig in Portland on Sept. 3. For more information on An Overnight Low, visit their website www.anovernightlow.com.

Return to top