Howard Feibusch’s Howard was a band when it released its 2015 debut album Religion. But the new Together Alone, which comes out Sept. 14 and premieres exclusively below, was more of a true band record than either Religion or the subsequent EP Please Recycle.
“Everyone in the band was definitely featured on Religion, but it was crafted a bit more piece-wise and the majority of the process was steered in my own bedroom,” Feibusch, a veteran of the group Orange Television, tells Billboard. “For (Together Alone) I wanted to think of it more like a band and more like humans playing as opposed to sampling and going about it that way. It was definitely done a lot more collectively.”
But that collective consciousness also made the melodic and moody Together Alone “a very frustrating album to make,” according to Feibusch. “It took a long time to find ourselves and to find our sound,” he explains. “There were a few songs in particular — one we did 15 versions of ’til it felt right with a band, another had six or seven versions of lyrics, and I went through long bouts of insomnia. I wish I could say it was magic and took one second to put it all together, but that wasn’t the case. In some way we were working on the record for two and a half or three years, and maybe in the last two months before it was completed did we find our stride.”
The Howard sound, Feibusch adds, is “continuously changing.” But what Together Alone has in common with its predecessors is a desire to command attention rather than being consumed as background music. “I feel like a lot of music today, especially with curated playlists and all of that, is great for the coffee shop or the clothing store or whatever venue it’s being played in,” notes Feibusch, who maintains an active scoring career alongside the band. “It’s rare that I connect to lyrics or a certain feeling or certain nostalgia or anything like that. And I think for this album I was constantly thinking about where it took me in my head. If it was a cool production idea, that wasn’t enough. It was always about, ‘How can we make this sound a little more unique and more new, something that takes the ear on a little bit of a left turn?’ But obviously without getting in the way of songwriting.”
Howard has “a couple small one-off” shows planned so far but is hoping Together Alone will bring enough attention to bring in more performance offers. Meanwhile he’s continuing to work on scoring projects he can’t reveal, and Howard, the band, already has “a couple tracks ready to go” for whatever comes next. “I know this is going to be a way quicker and easier process than (Together Alone),” Feibusch says. “I have a sense of where it’s going, but every time I finish an album I feel like I know where the next one’s going to go and it doesn’t go that way, so I don’t want to say anything certain about it right now.”