It didn’t take Tim Easton excessive deliberation to realize what he wanted to do next musically. Upon finishing his previous album, 2006’s contemplative and largely acoustic Ammunition, Easton was ready for healthy doses of electricity and volume.
“I knew that I wanted to make a Rock & Roll record, most definitely, right off the bat,” says Easton about Porcupine, his fourth solo album. “I missed making that good Midwestern, train-coming-off-the-rails sound I grew to love from the bars around Ohio State University.”
Easton’s Ohio roots form the very heart of Porcupine. The Akron resident attended OSU in the mid-’90s, formed his first band, toured Europe, honed his craft while street-busking, then returned to Columbus and joined The Haynes Boys. The Boys’ Garage-tinged Americana attracted serious attention before Easton recorded his 1998 solo debut, Special 20, leading to his New West contract.
Two years later, members of Wilco backed Easton on his sophomore album, The Truth About Us, reinforcing the Tweedy/Farrar comparisons. Easton’s California relocation informed the more reflective Break Your Mother’s Heart in 2003, and his subsequent Joshua Tree move inspired Ammunition.
After deciding to do some rafter dusting on Porcupine, Easton enlisted former Haynes Boys bassist Matt Surgeson and ex-New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown to help him push the needle. And how did the porcupine become the album’s thematic icon?
“The album wasn’t titled when we recorded that song in one take,” says Easton. “It was (producer Brad Jones’) idea. He said, ‘Porcupine, that would be a good album title.’ Echo and the Bunnymen had an album called Porcupine, but quite different from this one. That’s OK — The Replacements had an album called Let It Be, so I can have an album called Porcupine. It’s a jagged animal that might look cute and fuzzy from a distance but when you get close it’ll stick you.”
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