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tick.tick.tick. counts down to EP debut

tick.tick.tick - from left, Eric Hall, Ross Garren and Dean Anshutz - releases its self-titled debut EP on Friday. (Submitted photo)

Instead of letting time tick away during the pandemic, Eric Hall and Dean Anshutz from Red Wanting Blue partnered with musician / composer / producer Ross Garren to form tick.tick.tick.

A self-titled EP featuring four instrumental tracks will be available for digital download via Bandcamp and for streaming beginning Friday.

The sound is a departure for those who only know Hall and Anshutz from the Americana-tinged rock of RWB, but both have done different things in the past.

“Eric’s band before Red Wanting Blue was pretty weird and jacked up,” Anshutz said. “The same with The Zou (the experimental Youngstown band that Anshutz played drums with before joining RWB). I think it’s a long time coming that we did something else.”

“Retro-futurism” is a term that’s been used to describe some of Garren’s past work, and it’s applicable to tick.tick.tick.

“It’s what the future would have looked like somewhere between 1983 and 1993,” Hall said.

Hall and Anshutz met Garren through Garren’s wife, singer Chelsea Williams, who records for the same label as RWB, Blue Elan Records.

“He’s a guy with a really interesting skill set,” Hall said. “He’s a wonderful piano, keyboard player, and he also a very skilled, great player of everything harmonica … On top of that, he’s very skilled when it comes to production, recording, stuff like that.”

Hall sent Garren a demo he created using a dobro guitar, a Casio keyboard and a drum machine.

“I sent it over to him and he did his thing with it productionwise and mixingwise,” Hall said. “We were both pretty tickled with it. He suggested maybe it would be fun to do some sort of concerted effort, instrumental music that had the same aesthetic. And he suggested we involve Dean. It’s always good to have a skilled percussionist.”

The songs were recorded working remotely — Hall (guitar, bass, synthesizer) from New Jersey; Anshutz (drums, programming, vibraphone, organ) from Youngstown; and Garren (synthesizer, mellotron) from Los Angeles.

“I enjoy instrumental music, but more in the realm of pop music — shorter songs, things that are very melodic and listenable,” Hall said. “I’ve never been much for writing lyrics. I’ve never made the plunge and stuck with it, so when I write, it’s usually nonvocal anyway.”

For the songs Hall wrote, he would record his parts, send the files to Anshutz to add percussion and other touches before sending it all to Garren to add atmospherics and for producing, mixing and mastering. The fact that Hall and Anshutz have so much experience recording and performing together (as well as doing some remote recording in recent years with RWB) made the process easier.

“There’s definitely a familiarity,” Hall said. “No explanation is needed. I like the way he plays. I know he’ll play something appropriate for it, whether I would have thought of it or not.”

There are no plans for tick.tick.tick to perform live, regardless of pandemic restrictions, and Anshutz found that freeing.

“With RWB, it’s constantly about the live show. How do we make music that we’re going to be able to at the live show?,” Anshutz said. “That’s always ingrained in us. If I play too much stuff, I won’t be able to do it live, which is going to be a bummer for me. With tick.tick.tick., we have no hopes of playing a show ever, so it doesn’t really matter.”

“sally.stutters” starts with a Dick Dale-like guitar riff and garage rock drums that eventually work in contrast and in conjunction with more electronic elements. The effect is like a rock band being swallowed by a late ’80s video game.

The brief song “tick.tick.tick” sounds like it could be the theme for a fantasy-based television show, and “bit.quest” also has a cinematic vibe. “daily.routine” mixes the electronic and the orchestral.

The musicians plan to promote the music through their social media accounts and are working at getting placements on Spotify playlists and other paths to broaden its exposure, such as creating YouTube videos with rudimentary computer graphics.

“The little videos and stuff for social media, that’s something I’ve always been interested in and enjoy doing, but I haven’t had too much of an outlet for in the realm of Red Wanting Blue,” Hall said. “That’s an additional fun part of the project for me in addition to making music that I think is fun to listen to.”

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