Slow migration

Early Day Miners reborn in New Orleans

Early Day Miners, Unwed Sailor and Sisterhoods perform Saturday, Sept. 8, 8:30 p.m.
Tender Loving Coffee
365 E. Sixth St.

When last we heard from Early Day Miners, they were still being hailed as the unsung heroes of the Midwest’s slowcore movement. The Bloomington, Ind., band’s sound evoked the subgenre’s forebears Low and Galaxie 500, but with more pronounced post-rock and ambient overtones. The UK’s influential music magazine Drowned in Sound even went so far as to praise bandleader Daniel Burton as a latter-day William Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy.

The comparison is not unfounded, particularly considering songs like “Offshore” (from the 2002 album Let Us Garlands Bring), a powerful ode to New Orleans that Burton wrote and released three years before Hurricane Katrina: “Her presence and her delta eyes, stained glass mystery,” he sings. “Abandoned boats drift by, stillness and debris.”

The band garnered further critical acclaim with the release of its 2011 album, Night People. And then … nothing.

Until, that is, this summer, when Early Day Miners returned with a haunting new single called “Night Suit (for Tarah Cards),” currently available with another track, “Sterling Provisions,” digitally and as a cassette single via the band’s Bandcamp page ( It’s a return to the moody, ambient-rock form that builds upon the band’s best early work.

Burton has moved to New Orleans, and I spoke with him from there in advance of his upcoming Chico show (Sept. 8, at Tender Loving Coffee) about finding his way back to music.

It’s been seven years since the last Early Day Miners album. Would you call the new single a reunion, or is it just the end of a really long hiatus?

It’s certainly the end of a long hiatus. I took time off to go to grad school for landscape architecture—which I’m now practicing—and that didn’t afford a lot of time for music. I’d been working for 15 to 20 years on various bands and projects, and I got to a point where I’d become clouded as far as what I wanted to say or what kind of music I wanted to create.

Were you always sure that you’d return to making music?

Yeah, it was really just an intentional hiatus. I have always known that music was my first priority. I guess maybe I could have gone to music school, which I’ve never done. But it’s OK to take chances and put things out that aren’t perfect. I think a lot of our stuff was so labored over that we kind of beat the life out of some things that could have been really wild, you know?

Has living in New Orleans impacted your music?

Directly, I think. Like the video for “Night Suit” that we put together, and subject matter like Tarah Cards [musician/drag performer to whom the song is dedicated], are all direct influences from living in New Orleans and literally walking into a bar four blocks away from my house and seeing Tarah perform. There’s a lot going on here right now, and I don’t think a lot of it’s really popular nationally. But that’s always been the case with New Orleans. I’m shocked that Big Freedia is popular. I think it’s wonderful, but it’s kind of an anomaly.

So, are you going to do a bounce single next?

[Laughs.] I am a huge fan of that [genre]. I mean, it is incredible. I think it’s the sound of the city right now. Obviously, no one’s lamenting the legacy of New Orleans. No one here is going to be like, “Oh the Preservation Jazz Hall band is terrible.” But now you’ve got cool bands like Sweet Crude and Tank and the Bangas that are really fun live, and deejays doing shows, and bars like Gasa Gasa and the AllWays Lounge. So it’s not [merely] a museum of music, it never has been.