By ROB DUGUAY
Putting out a debut full-length album is a big endeavor for any band or musician, but it’s often worth it when it’s completed. The first release on the discography serves as an introduction to the act’s sound and the vibe they give off. For example, Attleboro indie rock act Bicycle Inn unveiled their ‘90s inspired emo tones with their debut LP This Time and Place Is All I’ll Ever Know via the Tennessee based label Sun Eater Records on March 19. Anyone who digs bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Braid and American Football can definitely appreciate the kind of music guitarist and vocalist Noah Aguiar, bassist Declan Moloney, guitarist Dylan Ilkowitz and drummer David Zielinski have been making. While diving into the album, they can check out tracks such as “Dexterity Saving Throw”, “Leap Year” and “Poor Lake’s Camp” to get a sense of what’s being brought to the senses.
I recently had a talk with Aguiar and Moloney about spending time out of state to make the album, exploring the themes within the songs, taking a photo in a big field and the importance of celebrating moments.
Rob Duguay: How would you describe the experience of spending a month in New Jersey and making your debut album with Gary Cioni at Sound Acres Recording Studio?
Noah Aguiar: It was definitely an experience that neither of us had before so it was a lot of fun. The studio is located in South Jersey so it was probably about a five hour trip, we would usually be there during the week and then we would head some on the weekends. We didn’t know when we would be able to do something like this again so we just kind of went for it and it was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Declan Moloney: I think the most standout part of the experience was three weeks straight of just focusing on music and writing. Normally it would be that every other week we’d get together to hash out ideas for a couple hours and then go back to our lives. This time we were able to block everything else out and focus only on our art and on our music while also bringing us together a lot more as friends and as musicians. We got to focus on the goal of making a record as much as we possibly could.
RD: The album cover is a photo of you guys and a bunch of other people, so where was it taken? It seems like it has the vibe of being at a summer backyard party or in a giant field? What’s the reasoning behind the photo? Was it taken during COVID-19 or before?
NA: We were in a giant field in the backyard of a friend of ours named Gaby. She was kind enough to let us have a gathering there and she’s the one that took the photo in the first place. It was right at the beginning of the pandemic but we were all masked up and socially distanced. Gaby took the picture and then everybody separated, you can actually see it at the top of the image. It coincides with the album title, This Time and Place Is All I’ll Ever Know, because we wanted the cover to be filled with friends and people we hold dear.
We actually invited at least 10 to 15 more people to come and take the picture with us and it didn’t end up working out for various reasons. In my mind it symbolizes the importance of friends, family and the people you have in your life at that moment. Whenever you have a full picture in hand, you have a moment that’s captured there and it’s the most important moment to you at that time. It basically paints a picture of everything that’s happening in that moment. When we took the picture we didn’t know how the record was going to turn out and we didn’t know how any of it was going to come about.
We just decided that we were going to take a photo for the record and this was how we were going to do it. At the end of it all it was a moment that captured a bunch of our friends coming to support something that we did and it’s a beautiful one overall.
DM: We wanted everybody to just come as they do normally. It wasn’t extra nice or fancy, it was just us in that moment because that’s what the record is about. This time and place is all we know and it’s all we have so that was an important part of having the picture taken.
RD: What inspired the themes of existentialism, abuse, life purpose and the death of loved ones within the album? Do you consider this to be a joint storytelling between the four of you through life experiences and conveying them into song? Does it all come from one particular person in the band?
DM: It’s definitely a storytelling type of thing, it’s a culmination of all of our writing experiences up to that point. We’ve always written introspectively because all we have is our own experiences and writing about it helps us understand our own emotions. Noah, as our singer, writes most of the lyrics and a lot of the songs come from his heart but we’ve all collaborated on them.
NA: It basically turned into this amalgamation of emotion and feelings. I worked very, very closely with Dylan on “Very Cool, Brett” because that’s his story to tell, not mine. Same thing with “20 Sided” being from Declan’s heart and where he was at. Whenever I write something I make sure that I bring whatever I have to the table and all the guys to pick it apart and ask questions about it. There’s existentialism, there’s abuse and there’s these things that we as people struggle with and we would be pretty hard pressed not to share all of our experiences because nothing is one-dimensional. I don’t want to speak for the entire group and we’re trying to get everybody’s perspective and really trying to hit upon the concepts that we feel comfortable with.
RD: What do you hope people take from This Time and Place Is All I’ll Ever Know after they listen to it? The record definitely conveys a ton of emotion.
NA: I don’t want to say “whatever you want” but our goal as a band is that whenever we write anything, we always want someone to listen to it and feel like it’s a great song. It’s obviously the hope but we also want them to listen to it and relate to it in some way. The last song on the record “Members Only/Cost Of Living” is from many conversations between Dylan and I about what comes next after this and how scary it is. It’s about the question of “how do you have hope when you’re scared of dying?” and my hope is that somebody listens to the song and knows that they’re not the only person who is scared to get out of bed every day or go to sleep at night. It’s very hard to explain but it’s important that we both write good songs and that our music helped someone in their journey in life.
RD: That’s a great perspective to have on your music. With live music being barely existent because of COVID-19, what do you guys plan on doing to promote and market the album? Have you looked into doing any live streams or do you plan on just waiting until it’s safe to play shows in regular fashion?
NA: Basically what the four of us have decided on is that we’re not going to do anything live until there’s been a complete and total decision by the powers that be that it’s safe to have shows. We’ve been kind of going out of our way to connect on the internet in a simple way, we’ve done a couple of live stream shows and a couple sessions with some friends that are going to be coming out. Maybe we can do more in that vein but we’ve been working with some music promotion companies while also getting a lot of press and things like that. We’ve been mostly focusing on having a presence online while trying our best to stay connected on social media. We want to mostly make connections with people, not just sell a record.