Add another supergroup to the books. Banquet, the band formed earlier this year by Midlake that includes members of Band of Horses and Franz Ferdinand, are busy recording their first album, Volume I, at none other than Denton’s Redwood Studios. The record is due out late in 2016, a fact that ought to have Jason Lee just about over the moon right now.
The supergroup is comprised of four Midlakers and four non-Midlakers. Eric Pulido, McKenzie Smith, Joey McClellan and Jesse Chandler all hail from Midlake. They're joined by Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Fran Healy of Travis, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand
Pulido says the group is comparable to a poor man’s Traveling Wilbury’s, which featured Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty — a combination that most young people probably struggle to believe ever happened. The Wilbury's recorded two albums between 1988 and 1990, Vol. 1 and Vol. 3 (No. 2 was bootlegged by the George Harrison estate in 2007 in his ‘George by George’ boxset), the titles for which Banquet have given a nod with their own record-to-be.
“It all started with a boy and a dream,” Pulido says wistfully. One of his dreams is coming true, though: He has put together what may be one of the most indie supergroups ever. “I was surprised people said yes.” He says that to begin he simply sent an email to a few musicians he admired to see if they’d be interested in a collaborative music group. “It's a humbling and cool experience to share something like this with some of your musical idols who are also nice people,” Pulido adds.
“To tell you the truth, I’m a little mystified what the whole thing is myself, which is fine,” Lytle says. “I was asked to contribute however I felt like. I had a couple of songs that were just floating around and didn't have a home in my own catalog and thought it'd be a good opportunity to use them for this Banquet thing." It was a useful opportunity, he says, because, "I don’t get the opportunity to collaborate too much.”
Volume I will include 10 songs, 9 of which are either close to completion or have already been complete, waiting for final mixes to be sent in by Kapranos. Not all non-Midlake musicians have been recording remotely, though. Lytle and Fran Healy made their way to Denton earlier this year to record their parts, and to of course take in the city.
Lytle had been a big Midlake fan well before he had met any of them. “Every now and then there are other bands, musicians where if I keep doing this, and they keep doing this, we’ll eventually run into each other,” he explained.
Pulido says they are hoping to be finished recording by the end of January, although production dates are never set in stone. ATO & Bella Union have shown interest in putting the album out, as well. Working on this project, Pulido says, has made him “fall in love with making music again.” Granted, that's not to say he had ever fallen out of love with music in the first place. Every love needs a charge, though. This is just a super indie-charge.
The Banquet project has gotten Pulido so recharged, in fact, that while Volume I still isn’t complete, he already has big plans for Volume II. While that record may or may not pair the Midlake members with some of the same collaborators — "I'd like to not give away too much or set it in stone, since it never is till it's done," he says — Pulido plans to include Rufus Wainwright, Norah Jones, John Grant and others for the second record.
In the meantime, the current group aims to eventually play a show in Denton, playing the album in its entirety but also playing some of the respective band members' outside songs on stage as well. Pulido says his goal is to bring all the musicians involved to Denton, put them up, let them experience the town, the community, break bread together, record and play a show — or, as Pulido puts it, "make music with dudes who love making music." Sounds like the perfect Denton weekend, actually.