A cure for loneliness

Charles Albright talks about lo-fi punk, recording, and Charles Albright the band

<p><b>It takes four: Charles Albright the band features (left to right) Patrick Shelley, Albright, Hans White and Chris Sabatoni.</b></p>

It takes four: Charles Albright the band features (left to right) Patrick Shelley, Albright, Hans White and Chris Sabatoni.

Photo by Lisa Baetz

Catch Charles Albright on Thursday, January 9, at 8 p.m. at The Press Club, located at 2030 P Street. The cover is $5, and Nacho Business and Kittens Having Kittens are also on the bill. Visit www.facebook.com/charlesalbrightcharlesalbright for more info.

Local garage rocker Charles Albright didn’t have high expectations when, in 2009, he pressed 100 copies of his debut 7-inch, I’m on Drugs. He figured he would hand out a couple to friends for free, and maybe if he was lucky, some might even give it a couple spins before shelving it.

One of the people he gave a record to was Scott Soriano, owner and operator of local indie record label S.S. Records. Soriano liked the record and offered to sell Albright’s remaining inventory.

Albright was more than happy to take him up on the offer.

“He said it was his favorite record of the year,” Albright says now. “This is a guy that I looked up to for years. I always wanted him to like what I do.”

The 7-inch contained three songs, with the record’s entire running time clocking in at less than five minutes. Albright recorded every instrument on every song, lo-fi, blown-out, psychedelic punk tracks, by himself on his laptop.

Soriano wasn’t the only fan. The label sold Albright’s remaining records, pressed another 400 and sold out of those as well.

“I can’t believe people liked that record. I wasn’t even going to put it out. I [just] put it out on a whim,” Albright says.

Over the next several years, Albright released a couple more singles on different indie labels, and in 2012, he compiled the tracks, along with a few unreleased songs and put out a cassette compilation on the Pleasant Screams label, titled The First Four Years.

In October 2013, Mapled Records released the comp on vinyl. Albright, an avid vinyl collector, says he considers this to be the optimal platform for releasing his music.

The album’s cover, borrowed from I’m on Drugs, features a cartoon image of Albright depicted with several arms, playing drums and two guitars at once.

The image is apt, as Albright, as with his first 7-inch, recorded most of his singles records alone, overdubbing each instrument himself. While the sound is consistently lo-fi, it wasn’t assembled haphazardly. Albright labored over each track for hours, days, months, even.

“People don’t realize some of those feedback sounds, [they] took hours of sculpting, [saying things like] ’I think the peak of the feedback should happen here,’” Albright says. “I would play with it forever.”

There were, actually, a few songs on the LP that featured other musicians besides Albright. A couple of the previously unreleased tracks were recorded live at the Davis Bike Collective by Gabe Torres. For these, Albright used a full band that he’d first assembled in 2010 to play the S.S. Records 10-year anniversary show. That band, featuring Chris Sabatoni (guitar), Patrick Shelley (drums) and Hans White (bass), still plays with him now under the name “Charles Albright.”

“It’s almost like we’re a band called ’Charles Albright.’ That’s very absurd and funny to me,” Albright says. “[Glenn] Danzig and [Henry] Rollins didn’t change the names of their bands, did they?”

Still, he adds, despite the singular moniker, the spotlight is focused on everyone.

As a group, the band’s written several new songs.

“Maybe I’m the creative director, but we all have ideas that have yet to be released,” he says. While their music retains the psychedelic punk sound from Albright’s early 7-inch recordings, the band’s chemistry and tight musicianship alters the sound somewhat to a more offbeat late-’70s post-punk band.

Charles Albright the musician says he likes the musical direction that Charles Albright the group has taken him.

“I’m always going to make recordings, but now I’m going to focus on the band,” Albright says. “The compilation kind of marks the end of me doing this myself. [It’s] kind of closure, in a sense, of being a loner.”