Eamon Ra: Psychedelic Sunshine for Dark Times

Listen to an exclusive new track from deep in the heart of Jet City by one of its brightest new sons

Eamon Ra

Eamon Ra’s debut, the cryptically titled Meat Bones Chemicals Electricity, is full of upbeat, optimistic love songs.

The arrangements recall the carefree days of 60s Britpop, with echoes of The Kinks, The Who, The Beatles and The Dave Clark Five floating through the music. Ra put the album together slowly, over a two-year period, while battling an auto-immune infection.

“I was ill, to one degree or another, over the whole process of recording,” he said from his Seattle home. “I had a bout of sarcoidosis that attacked my nervous system. I had to go on medical leave, although it did inspire one of the songs on the record – ‘Such Good Friends.’ My co-workers donated some of their sick leave time to me, so I could receive a paycheck while I wasn’t working. I wrote that song to thank them.” 

After he finished recording the album, he quit his job, planning to go on tour to support its release. Then Covid-19 hit Seattle.

“The atmosphere up here is surreal,” he said. “I was lucky. I quit my job to prepare for a tour, so I was already self-quarantined. It’s weird to have a record out and not be able to play live shows to support it.” 

Eamon Ra’s Meat Bones Chemicals Electricity

It’s an unfortunate turn of events, because Meat Bones Chemicals Electricity is full of joyful, uplifting tunes that celebrate love, friendship and perseverance in the face of adversity. “Kiss Somebody You Love,” a ballad that celebrates the power of love to soothe us in times of duress, features Ra’s shimmering 12-string guitar and exquisite multi-tracked harmonies. “Happiest Day in History” is a gentle rocker, reminding us of the ordinary pleasures of lovers, friends and family, with hints of The Kinks in its vocals and jovial beat. “Pitchforks and Torches” is a playfully sinister waltz that references the Frankenstein films, to remind us of the interconnectivity of all life –  human, animal and monster alike. Ra’s harmonium and electric 12-string give the track, and the album, a bold psychedelic aura. 

Was it difficult to shape the cinematic soundscapes in his small home studio?

Eamon Ra (Art: Ron Hart)

“Not really,” he declares. “I recorded on a computer, in the small room in my basement. I have a decent collection of mics, so I close miced everything, so it didn’t sound too boxy. I recorded the drum tracks with three drummer friends in larger rooms, with a mobile rig, then mixed and mastered everything to give it an expansive sound. At home, I recorded six and 12-string guitars – electric and acoustic – bass, harmonica and mellotron. The mellotron has a sound that brings that otherworldly, magical feel to the tracks.” 

Meat Bones Chemicals Electricity is presented as a deluxe LP or CD, accompanied by a comic book Ra created so he could compliment the libretto with his drawings.

“I was an art major in college,” he tells the Globe. “The idea of the comic book started when I wanted to do a photo shoot for the album. I thought it would be a nice prop to be reading a comic. It was a riff on the John Mayall Bluesbreakers album, with Eric Clapton reading a Beano comic. I thought I’d just make a cover and one page for the inside. I did that a couple of days before the photo shoot, then decided I should do an illustrated lyric book to tell the story of the record. That way, people could look at the lyrics, while listening to the music. I made a couple of comics when I was in my early 20s, but just for my own pleasure. This is the only thing I’ve done for public consumption. I should do more, I guess, but I’ve got plenty to work on with my music.” 

Eamon Ra just wrote a brand new song called “Quarantine Blues” that he was kind enough to share with our readers.

 

 

Check out the rest of Meat Bones Chemicals Electricity here:

 

 

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j. poet

j. poet has been writing about music for most of his adult life. He has contributed to the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Express, Harp, Paste, Grammy.com, PlanetOut.com, American Profile, Creem, Relix, Downbeat, Folk Roots, New Noise and more national and international publications and websites than he can remember. He wrote most of the Musichound Guide to World Music (Visible Ink, 2000) and had two stories in Best Rock Writing 2014 (That Devil Music). He has interviewed a wide spectrum of artists including Leonard Cohen, Merle Haggard and Godzilla. He lives in San Francisco. 

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