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Dennis Sheridan and the record that wrote itself

It’s a sparse album that serves as a sort of grab-bag of his songs from the past 14 years.

A sparse album, but the stripped-down approach keeps things personal.
A sparse album, but the stripped-down approach keeps things personal.

Ryan Jubela owns Masters Kitchen and Cocktail in Oceanside. Earlier this year, he asked Dennis Sheridan if he wanted to play an acoustic gig at his restaurant. Sheridan took the offer as a challenge. He knew the gig would entail learning numerous covers to fill up a three-hour slot. He committed and got cracking learning covers.

“A few friends showed up and I got a lot of good feedback,” Sheridan said. “Some people that I really trust said ‘You’re really onto something with this acoustic stuff.’ I took it to heart. There was this one weekend where there wasn’t much going on for me, and I have this little shed studio in my backyard. I flipped on the computer and I decided to record a song that I had demoed electrically just with the acoustic, and it sounded really good. Then I was like ‘Why don’t I just record a whole album?’—and I did.”

Sheridan recorded the core of Midwestern Pacific in two weeks and spent another six weeks “tweaking it.” It’s a sparse album that serves as a sort of grab-bag of his songs from the past 14 years. Some date back to his mid-2000s band, Follow The Train, while others were written for his current band, Endcastle. As a result, he feels that he even though he didn’t write anything specifically for this album, that perhaps “the record was writing itself over time.”

Many of the songs are very personal to Sheridan, who felt the stripped-down approach laid them bare to the listener. “When you’re playing in a bar, most people aren’t really listening to the words that you are singing,” he said. “That’s the coolest opportunity that making a record like this gives you. If you’re someone who likes to spend a lot of time crafting lyrics, you have a chance to put out some poetry and put to music.”

On other musical fronts, Sheridan’s aforementioned indie-rock band, Endcastle, are about to hit pause. The group has two gigs scheduled for August and may enjoy retirement after that. “I think that August 31 show is probably going to be the last thing that we book, but I don’t like to close the book on things like that. We’re all still friends. We still have these songs that we still know how to play. If a cool gig came up, I’m sure we’d play again,” he said.

But as one saga concludes, yet another begins. There is a new trio on Sheridan’s plate. Look for Space Motor in the local clubs — maybe as early as September.

“It’s a little surfy. It’s a little bit post-rocky,” Sheridan explained. “I think we sound like Broken Social Scene a little, but maybe surfier. Maybe some American Analog Set mixed in there. There’s probably a little bit of Sebadoh influence. For me, my guitar playing influence is always going to be J. Mascis. A lot of effects. I think people will dig it.”

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A sparse album, but the stripped-down approach keeps things personal.
A sparse album, but the stripped-down approach keeps things personal.

Ryan Jubela owns Masters Kitchen and Cocktail in Oceanside. Earlier this year, he asked Dennis Sheridan if he wanted to play an acoustic gig at his restaurant. Sheridan took the offer as a challenge. He knew the gig would entail learning numerous covers to fill up a three-hour slot. He committed and got cracking learning covers.

“A few friends showed up and I got a lot of good feedback,” Sheridan said. “Some people that I really trust said ‘You’re really onto something with this acoustic stuff.’ I took it to heart. There was this one weekend where there wasn’t much going on for me, and I have this little shed studio in my backyard. I flipped on the computer and I decided to record a song that I had demoed electrically just with the acoustic, and it sounded really good. Then I was like ‘Why don’t I just record a whole album?’—and I did.”

Sheridan recorded the core of Midwestern Pacific in two weeks and spent another six weeks “tweaking it.” It’s a sparse album that serves as a sort of grab-bag of his songs from the past 14 years. Some date back to his mid-2000s band, Follow The Train, while others were written for his current band, Endcastle. As a result, he feels that he even though he didn’t write anything specifically for this album, that perhaps “the record was writing itself over time.”

Many of the songs are very personal to Sheridan, who felt the stripped-down approach laid them bare to the listener. “When you’re playing in a bar, most people aren’t really listening to the words that you are singing,” he said. “That’s the coolest opportunity that making a record like this gives you. If you’re someone who likes to spend a lot of time crafting lyrics, you have a chance to put out some poetry and put to music.”

On other musical fronts, Sheridan’s aforementioned indie-rock band, Endcastle, are about to hit pause. The group has two gigs scheduled for August and may enjoy retirement after that. “I think that August 31 show is probably going to be the last thing that we book, but I don’t like to close the book on things like that. We’re all still friends. We still have these songs that we still know how to play. If a cool gig came up, I’m sure we’d play again,” he said.

But as one saga concludes, yet another begins. There is a new trio on Sheridan’s plate. Look for Space Motor in the local clubs — maybe as early as September.

“It’s a little surfy. It’s a little bit post-rocky,” Sheridan explained. “I think we sound like Broken Social Scene a little, but maybe surfier. Maybe some American Analog Set mixed in there. There’s probably a little bit of Sebadoh influence. For me, my guitar playing influence is always going to be J. Mascis. A lot of effects. I think people will dig it.”

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