It's taken 2½ years for the members of Your Meteor to finalize their second album, Byzantium. But the wait may be well worth it, as they embark on a musical journey only a few local bands have taken in the past decade: creating a concept album.
The current lineup of the band formed at the start of 2011, as Andrew Goldring (Great Interstate) caught Thomas Jacques (Red Tape) and Zeke Hartmann playing coffee shop gigs in Sugar House. The duo had been writing music together since junior high, and were essentially playing random shows and experimenting with their sound. Goldring reached out to Jacques through Facebook and quickly bonded, which led to him join the band. Over the next year, the group played all-ages shows with various other members, including a stint with Stuart Gardner as their drummer, but all agreed that things gelled best when the band became a trio.
They hit the studio and recorded their debut album, The Retroscope, which came out in June 2012 to a huge reception. The band hadn't promoted the project or the release, so it came as a great surprise to see Jed's Barber Shop packed for a release show, which led to regular airplay on KRCL and festival appearances. The group followed up the album with a quick single later that same summer, but fizzled out near the start of 2013.
"Since we didn't have a full-time live drummer, we kind of just holed up in the studio and kept writing and demoing new ideas," Goldring says. "We didn't play live much at all for probably a year or more, 'cause we just didn't really have what we needed to put on a good show."
Before the fizzle began, Jacques started to lay the groundwork for what would eventually become Byzantium. The structure of the album required them to take time off before heading back into the studio, a feat few Utah-based artists have attempted in recent years. More than a year was spent developing the characters and plot structure, and figuring out what the whole story meant.
Working in Goldring's Soundcave Productions studio in February 2014, the process itself became a massive undertaking, with Your Meteor spending 14 months fine-tuning every song. Once recording was finally finished, the band turned to Kickstarter to help fund the finalization and pressing of the vinyl copies.
"We all tend to be perfectionists in the studio," Goldring says. "Getting everything just the way we wanted took a lot of time. Vocals were especially a challenge, since we do everything the old school way without any Auto-Tune, and there are a lot of three-part harmonies that had to be as perfect as we could get them. We even tracked some of the vocal parts live together so that we could get a more natural feeling."
Byzantium is an interesting mix of late-'80s alternative, conceptual-indie themes and hints of jazz, all melted into a solid storyline that is both harmonious and melodic. It's as if a small town tucked away in the hills had its own soundtrack, recounting the days that have passed by and the tales woven into its streets by the people who lived there. There are bouncy tracks like "Biggest Bang," groovy beats like "Pacify" and folk-driven tunes like "Gordian Knot." The story itself will leave many to ponder its meaning, and give dedicated fans much to speculate about regarding its thematic subtext.
Moving forward, the band members are working to create a five-person lineup with live keys and drums, and also have plans for a punk EP. Ultimately, the focus is to see what the public thinks of their creation. "I'm curious to see how people respond to the show and the album," Goldring says. "So far, the people we have shown it to have really enjoyed it, so hopefully that will open some more opportunities for us as a band."