Interviews

“Old Trees”: moody alt indie rocker Todd Giles (UNION ARES) discusses new poetic album

“Old Trees”, the debut solo album by THE UNION ARES guitarist, singer and all around good guy Todd Giles, comes one year after his band released “Songs from the North”, back when COVID was still a fresh wound, a seedling of a pandemic, Since the release of that record, UNION ARES have not been able to play that elusive record release show, not been able to celebrate the fruits of their labor. Undaunted Todd Giles recorded a solo record at home, making it a statement of the times. It’s a record about being a parent, about animals, about being a human in these often unfortunate times, but above all being able to peel back the distractions of daily life and see the potential of humanity. The absurd beauty of it all.

Comments Todd: “A record made during the early Corona times about things that occupy my mind. Art, Fatherhood, the unfortunate state western democracies find themselves in… beauty in the end. I hope, with each release form Old Man Giles records, to leave behind a bit more beauty than was there before.”

“Old Trees” was recorded at Todd’s home by himself with an old digital recorder, “a lousy mic” and his instruments. “Mainly my trusty Martin HD-28.” – says Todd. “I hope to upgrade but I think content is more import than some finishing details. Not to say that I didn’t spend a lot of time on this because I did.”

“The album cover art was done by Erik we also make my videos together. This was mastered at Holland Spoor studio by Chris Muller. Once again Old Man Giles records teamed up with 3 DIY lables: strictly no capital letters (UK), Disillusioned Records (UK) and Lilac Sky (Oslo) – anyone that was willing to believe in it are welcome aboard. We are looking for a US label to do a pressing there or help with distro there! Get in touch…”

“Old Trees” will be available February 5th 2021!

Giles

Track 1 – “Wolf Moon” 

“Old Trees” starts out on a surreal note. A battle of the sky with itself. Picture a 19th century sailor out at sea. In the middle of the ocean on a clear night looking up at the night sky and thinking of the overwhelming beauty. And realizing that that beauty connects him to everything.

Track 2 – “Firefly”

“Firefly” is a cryptic (or not so cryptic?) ode to a brilliant artist and her journey through her life in her (male dominated) art and through her life in general to its untimely early end.

Track 3 – “Questions and Answers”

“Old Trees” is an acoustic guitar record above all – musically speaking. There are bits and pieces of the other musical slices burrowing away in my mind. Here the mandolin peaks it’s head out for a bit. The song is about family. No family in particular. Just the difficulty that families can sometimes be… and the effort that it takes to make them, and all things worthwhile, possible.

Track 4 – “the ferals vs. the strays”

A children’s song about animals – cats in this case? Sort of. An allegory perhaps? About how two factions that really should be aligned end up turned against each other? Perhaps.

Track 5 – “The Woodpecker”

Another children’s song about animals? Birds this time. The song was born on a tandem bike where me and my daughter were making up variations to the actual children’s song that Pete Seeger recorded on his brilliant children’s record to end all children’s records Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Fishes (Little and Big) called “Fly through my window”. This is where it ended up. Featuring that very same daughter of mine on the cello intro. (Age 7)

Track 6 – “Only in threes”

A theme that I run into on occasion. The daily grind. Enough said?

Track 7 – “Custody Day”

Another fishing in the parenthood pond. Here a fictional father – daughter tale about their court allotted “day”. I love the NPR show Car Talk. Even though I really could care less about cars. I’m more a banjo / guitar guy. But the end part could get me on their show! I learned about blue smoke and ring jobs by listening to those two wonder gentlemen Click and Clack.

Track 8 – ““I’ll sleep when I’m dead” said the Zombie”

The next two songs touch upon (musically) my love of bluegrass and all thing bluegrass. This is the overtly political song on the record. Particularly my distain for the rightwing republican party in the US and their sycophant, hypocritical mindless followers.

Track 9 – “Baseball: the 2nd inning”

This is a fictional account of a father and son in a small town. I wrote this as a short story that I’ve since lost. Written on a typewriter before computers. Hehe.. almost. But lost. I made this a condensed version and set it to song. It’s the 2nd inning – the second baseball themed song. The first here. I have it in the back of my mind to make an album of 10 songs (innings) of all baseball themes songs. The third inning is done waiting for a home. Lets see how that thought develops.

Track 10 – “The Collector”

The last song is to the collectors of ideas among us. Keep collecting. It’s OK.

𝑂𝑙𝑑 𝑚𝑎𝑛 𝐺𝑖𝑙𝑒𝑠 𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑏𝑜𝑟𝑛 𝑡𝑜 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑚𝑒 𝑔𝑒𝑡 𝑚𝑦 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑖𝑐 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 – 𝑜𝑛 𝑣𝑖𝑛𝑦𝑙 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑠𝑖𝑏𝑙𝑒.

“Old Man Giles lives at the Union Ares bandcamp page for now.” – says Todd. “There you can find the first Union Ares record and now the first solo record. The Union Ares (south) will be recording the second Union Ares record this year – one way or another. Another fine place to keep up with news is via the youtube page BanjoTodd. Erik and I have some ideas for the new year.”

Asked about his take on possible live shows this year, Todd admits that these are tough times for live music. “The Union Are north and south are ready when able… I am also looking forward to solo shows. Here there is more flexibility. I’d love to come and play in your living room, back yard, community .. whatever! Drop me a line! [email protected]

Union Ares

As long as humanity continues so will art and music. We’re all fighting for a little bit of space to be heard. Some newer things that are worth hearing, as seen by Todd Giles, are:

Loss Leader from Barcelona. Good old indie power!

Trippy Hearts are friends of mine from way back in time from the Shays Wall. They’ve made a very moody, weird (that’s high compliment from me!) record worth a listen!

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