The Working Title will be coming to Rhythm and Brews on May 10 to open for Augustana.
Review for The Working Title:
Great songs are like mirrors—if they’re worth listening to, they show us something about ourselves, and remind us that when we’re sad or lonely, we’re not alone... somebody on the other end of this compact disc is feeling the same. It’s a notion that’s not lost on Joel Hamilton, front man and lyricist for The Working Title.
There’s a nakedness to the songs on the Charleston, S.C. based band’s major-label debut, about-face; be it in stories about heartbreak or love that almost was, there’s a self-exploration that brings the band’s songs to life, that makes them both vital and affecting.
If the songwriting sounds on a higher level, well, it’s not coincidence: Since wowing critics with a batch of demos and a packed hometown gig a few years ago, The Working Title has taken its time to get here, careful not to rush their evolution, or the album itself.
Fusing the band members’ individual loves for everyone from Counting Crows to the likes of Kid Dynamite and a slew of underground punk, The Working Title formed in 2001, with three-fourths of the group having attended high school together in the Charleston area. Hamilton, guitarist Adam Pavao, bassist Chris Ginn and drummer Ross Taylor had each logged time in other outfits, but it wasn’t until they started playing with one another that things clicked.
That chemistry was instant: within six months of forming, the band cut its first independent release, the now out-of-print Sincerely, a self-released, self-produced collection of songs full of themes of life and death, and inspired by family and girls and relationships. Written on an acoustic guitar, and flushed out on a four-track, the band moved a few thousand copies of the disc at shows in and around Charleston.
Not long after they partnered with a manager, the band’s creativity was growing and congealing. When demos were sent to a few select tastemakers, the response was immediate, as was the label interest. The band signed with Universal Records’ Kevin Law, and has become the debut act on his new Universal imprint, Cause For Alarm.
The Working Title entered into the studio in 2003 to track the seven-song EP Everyone Here is Wrong, a much more focused release. “It was more than one thought, instead of, like, five different thoughts,” says lead vocalist Joel Hamilton. “It was just much more cohesive.” It bore the fruits of a road-tested band, and came after a time when Hamilton began fine tuning his songwriting skills, as he and his band mates continued to sculpt their road muscles. People took notice too. The EP was rated five out of five in Alternative Press Magazine and they also labeled The Working Title, “A Band To Watch”. They have become one of the most requested bands on the Sirius Satellite network and had their music featured on the TV sensation, Laguna Beach on MTV.
“We were definitely maturing at the time. And, as a band, you’re always evolving, and that’s where our name stems from: ‘The Working Title’ is a name that stands for something that is always in progress. When you have a working title for something, it’s not finished” explains guitarist Adam Pavao.
Intent on perfecting its sounds with more time on the road, playing, living and growing—and releasing its major-label debut album when—and not before—the time was right, the band has spent the better part of two years harvesting a fan base up and down the East Coast and across the country. The Working Title have performed on the Vans Warped Tour, as well as on bills with the likes of Mae, Switchfoot, Our Lady Peace and mewithoutYou. Meanwhile, the band has ballooned at home, where Working Title gigs now draw some 1,000 fans. The time on the road, around other vocalists, Hamilton says, has seeped into both his writing and performing, making about-face a much more learned, experienced record, and definitely the band’s most sophisticated yet.
Co-produced by Brad Wood (Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, Liz Phair), Counting Crows guitarist David Bryson and Universal’s Law, about-face is a collection of old and brand new songs. Three well-traveled tracks, Something She Said, The Mary Getaway (I Lost Everything) and There Is None appear in different versions on the EP, Everyone Here is Wrong, while some were written in the studio, or just before the band began tracking, such as the album-ending Turbulence and The Crash.
Replete with angel imagery, The Crash is a tragedy on which Hamilton envisions being murdered as he has just begun to taste love for the first time: “It stems from me never having fallen in love before,” he says. “There was a girl, and I was feeling that I was falling in love for the first time in my life. And I was having dreams of death, and all these things that made me feel, like, ‘What if I die never having fallen in love, having experienced something like that?”
In the album’s intro, he waxes poetic about how when you’re in a relationship, or when you’re forming or ending one, “everything can kind of flip right before your eyes, and you have no idea what’s going on in your life. Everything can flip, and you’re kind of left not knowing what’s going on.”
Something She Said, one of the older songs was inspired by the death of drummer Ross Taylor’s mother, who passed just as the band was getting off the ground. Therein lies part of what makes the band unique: its devotion to one another. “These are my best friends,” says guitarist Adam Pavao. “They’ll be there for me, and I’ll be there for them, in whatever situation. This band is my family, it’s my whole life.”
But make no mistake; everything isn’t so drama-filled in the Working Title. “We’re fun-loving guys who want to put on a great show and make sure everybody has a great time,” says Pavao. “But we take our music very serious. We don’t want to be some band that pops up on the radar and drops right off.”
What’s more, the band, for Hamilton, is—and always has been—a vital outlet. “Since the beginning,” he says, “it’s just been about expressing ourselves. It’s an outlet through which we can keep ourselves sane.”