American Aquarium has announced that Things Change will be released June 1 on New West Records. Things Change marks as the band’s seventh studio album and first since 2015’s Wolves.
Like any band, the Raleigh, N.C.-based outfit has gone through their fair share of lineup changes over the years. But it was last spring when the long-time band surrounding lead vocalist and founding member BJ Barham decided to step away all at once. The abrupt news shocked fans. For months, various rumors circulated on what would ultimately happen to the American Aquarium name and whether Barham would ditch it for a solo career. Those rumors were short-lived though with Barham announcing an updated lineup and string of tour dates this past fall.
“A lot of folks asked, ‘Oh are you going to keep the band together?’ said Barham on The New Slang Podcast recently. “My only response was, of course, I’m going to keep the band together. I started the band. None of those guys were original members of the band. And I still have something to say.”
Barham, along with lead guitarist Shane Boeker, drummer Joey Bybee, bassist Ben Hussey and pedal steel guitarist Adam Kurtz, recorded Things Change at 3CG Records in Tulsa, Okla. Over the course of nine days, American Aquarium was joined by singer-songwriter John Fullbright in the producer’s chair and Wes Sharon (Turnpike Troubadours, Parker Millsap) engineering the project.
“We really tried to take advantage of Oklahoma and it being this hotbed and revival in music,” says Barham. Along with Fullbright adding keys and backing vocals, the five-piece were joined by the likes of Byron Berline (The Flying Burrito Brothers, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs) on fiddle, and John Moreland and Jamie Lin Wilson on harmony vocals.
The 10 songs on Things Change were written within the first two weeks on the revamped lineup’s first tour leg–the first songs Barham had written since his solo album Rockingham two years before.
“The last couple of years of the band were tumultuous. It was toxic and a lot of negativity. My creativity isn’t conducive to negativity,” says Barham. “Over the last two years of the band, I didn’t write one single new song. That’s a problem when I call myself a songwriter.”
As the album’s title alludes, Barham cites the lineup change as being the necessary spark to reinvigorate his songwriting artistry, saying “I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”
“I’ve finally surrounded myself with people who wanted to be here 100%. It’s amazing what positivity does,” says Barham. “I started American Aquarium in college so American Aquarium was all friends. Anybody who ever joined the band, it was six degrees of me. This was the first time I went out and recruited professional musicians to play in this band. It’s night and day.”
American Aquarium will be touring for much of the remainder of 2018 with the first leg of shows already announced. For tickets and information, visit the band’s official website here.
Things Change Tracklist
1. “The World Is On Fire”
3. “Tough Folks”
4. “When We Were Younger Men”
5. “One Day At A Time”
6. “Things Change”
7. “Work Conquers All”
8. “I Gave Up The Drinking (Before She Gave Up On Me)”
9. “Shadows Of You”
10. “‘Til The Final Curtain Falls”