‘Time And The River’: Todd Sheaffer on New From Good Homes EP
These days most know Todd Sheaffer better for his work with Railroad Earth, yet there remains a dedicated fanbase of his earlier and occasional group, From Good Homes. The New Jersey ensemble was an early ‘90s major-label success story, but disbanded as that decade came to a close. They reunited in 2009, playing shows when the timing was right, often ending the year with a holiday appearance in the Garden State. This year’s pair of shows- December 21 and 22 at the Newton Theatre- will be preceded by the release of a three-song EP, Time And The River and followed by an upcoming album in 2019. From his home in northern New Jersey, Sheaffer spoke about the EP and the LP, the additions to the live repertoire, and the excitement of having new From Good Homes music (Time And The River streams below the interview).
Why put a three-song EP out now?
This is in advance of what is to be a full-length release. They are three songs from a record that we are in the process of working on and completing. It’s a little taste of what we’ve been up to. Our fans are anxious to see what we’ve been doing. Word has been getting around that we’ve been working on some new stuff, which we have been beginning the past February. We have pretty much finished. We feel good about getting them out to the fans.
Is there any reason beyond wanting to give fans a preview of the upcoming album?
We have our annual holiday shows coming up and we wanted to play some of the new stuff in those shows; get some new material into the setlist. We want our fans to hear it, live with it, and get to know it a little bit.
Is it fair to say “Lady Liberty” is a contemporary social comment?
“Lady Liberty” has a timely facet to it. It’s a song that thematically is tied to the ongoing debate about immigration and that discussion that’s going on. That one is one that has an additional motive to get it out now. It enters itself into the debate.
So, does this release imply these three will be performed live at the upcoming shows?
We’ll probably be playing more than just those three, but these were pretty much in a finished state. They also covered a lot of ground musically and stylistically for what we are working on for the new album. We don’t want to release too much because it will all be coming out on the album, too. This is just a taste, as I said. It feels satisfying as a three-song release.
You did say pretty much finished. Is it possible you will do a little more work on the three songs, making this EP a unique collection of these three versions?
We reserve the right to fiddle with them if we feel like it. It’s possible. But, we may also find we love it as is. They’re sounding good to everybody. We may end up living with them.
Each song sounds like it has pockets of really fun potential as live vehicles?
I agree. We’re looking forward to playing them live, and there are sections in the songs that we kind of edited a little bit to make a record that will probably return in the live context.
Does a song have to have potential to hold up or have room to grow live in order for it to be on an album?
It doesn’t have to. Making a record is a different process. But, I do believe a lot of this stuff is going to work great live. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Years ago, it would be nearly unheard of that a band would release three songs simultaneously from a forthcoming album. That’s something you can choose to do now as an independent band.
I’m still a bit old school. I still think in terms of an album as an art form. But, it’s kind of amazing that you can finish a song one day and it’ll be on the Internet for people to listen to or download the next day. It’s incredible.