Days Between Stations is the creative partnership between guitarist Sepand Samzadeh and keyboardist Oscar Fuentes. The duo came together in Los Angeles in November 2003, and named the band after the 1985 novel by Steve Erickson. The band’s sound – Samzadeh calls it “art-rock,” Fuentes labels it “post-prog” – reflects their varied influences, as well as a shared disregard for stylistic boundaries.
Indeed, on different tracks from their upcoming self-titled debut album, one can hear influences ranging from progressive rock (Pink Floyd, Marillion, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, King Crimson) to post-rock (Sigur Ros, Godspeed You Black Emperor!) to ambient (Brian Eno, early Tangerine Dream) to jazz-rock (think Miles Davis’ early seventies output) to post-punk (Sonic Youth, Magazine) and even contemporary classical (Philip Glass, Steve Reich). The constant here is the band’s commitment to create a unique sound and to turn a deliberate blind eye to the passing whims of the mainstream.
To help flesh out the sound in the studio, the band contacted former Young Dubliners drummer Jon Mattox in 2005. Mattox (currently also with label-mates Uni) liked what he heard, and signed on not only as drummer but also as co-producer. The band further enlisted the help of guitarist Jeremy Castillo (also with the up-and-coming Mighty Six Ninety), Argentinian-born bassist Vivi Rama, sax player Jason Hemmens, singer Hollie Shepard, trumpeter Sean Erick, and trombonist Kevin Williams. Samzadeh’s uncle Jeffrey Samzadeh, who sings traditional Iranian classical music, also lent his distinctive, plaintive wail to the track Requiem for the Living.
According to the band, release of the album has been pushed back several times as band members struggled through very difficult times, including the devastating death of a family member. At one point, there was serious doubt that the project would ever be finished. In the end, this turmoil certainly influenced the dark, introspective nature of much of the material (as evidenced by some song titles: Requiem for the Living, Laudanum, A Long Goodbye, The Wake).
A welcome boost to morale came in 2004, when Fuentes and Samzadeh sent Bruce Soord, leader of the British band The Pineapple Thief, a CD with nearly an hour’s worth of mostly improvised material. Soord used some of this material as the basis for the song Saturday, which appeared on The Pineapple Thief’s 12 Stories Down (Cyclops 2004) and also on the 2CD version of its U.S. counterpart, 10 Stories Down (Cyclops 2005) – (12 Stories Down quickly sold out, although you can occasionally find a copy on eBay for a hefty sum).
The band has persevered and delivered an uncompromising debut they are proud of. And while much of the material on the album is dark (and deals, albeit instrumentally, with dark themes) and quite long – Requiem for the Living, which opens the album, is over 13 minutes long, while the epic closer A Laudanum clocks in at over 22 minutes – the band does exhibit a “light” side. For example, Radio Song (with its vocoderized refrain of “Run! Run! Run!” that brings to mind Science Fiction films from the 50s) suggests a marriage between early Marillion and early U2 and has been chosen as the lead-off single from the album, as well as being featured in the recently-released independent film Young Single & Angry and its accompanying soundtrack.
With release of the album set for September 2007, the band has been rehearsing for promotional gigs to support it. They are already at work on a follow-up, and there are also plans to release an EP featuring non-album tracks and demos. The band also hopes to branch out into film scoring.