Avalanche City is the brainchild of Dave Baxter, a musician whose background stretches across many genres and influences, culminating in a sound that is an impressive and eclectic range of various instruments, melodies and harmonies. The depth and perspective create a dynamic atmosphere that is rich and raw all at once. The epicenter of Avalanche City is Baxter himself, who writes, conceives, produces, records and plays every instrument on the debut Love Love Love EP, which was released in America on March 20, 2012. The EP contains four songs from the album Our New Life Above The Ground (released in New Zealand and Australia July 8, 2011) and includes the first single “Love Love Love” as well as “Go,” “The Silence,” and “The Streets.” A full album will be released in America at a later date.
Within the historical walls of a lone abandoned small country hall north of Auckland, Our New Life Above The Ground materialized and was recorded strictly within the confines of a guerilla DIY approach. Baxter, a multi-instrumentalist who was taught at the early age of nine, started a hardcore band in high school, One Must Fall, which (along with Baxter’s subsequent band, The Chase) made a sizable impression on the local underground hardcore scene, opening for the likes of Hatebreed, Parkway Drive and Sick Of It All. Meanwhile, Baxter worked at a recording studio, writing music for TV documentaries, short films and advertisements.
In late 2009, however, he decided to explore new musical avenues. He left his music-writing job and began recording bands in his own studio. He taught guitar, and started learning viola. He was dying to record an album on which he did everything himself - writing and performing all the music, recording and producing.
As he assiduously practiced vocal exercises and scales, singing in private whenever he could, Baxter began to write songs, experimenting with vocal melodies and lyrics for the first time in his life. Inspiration came in the form of guitar and bass riffs, vocal melodies and even mental images and narratives for which he composed a soundtrack of sorts. Eventually, he was persuaded to play his songs to various close friends. The positive feedback he received was instrumental to the birth of Avalanche City.
Naming his band after the title of a song he’d co-written some years earlier, Baxter played some solo acoustic shows and then decided to record an album. He’d long believed that the old community halls that dot the New Zealand countryside would make great recording spaces, with their wooden structures, spacious interiors and high ceilings. So he holed up in Kourawhero Hall just of outside Auckland, and with only the cows and the milk trucks as company, he recorded the music for Our New Life Above The Ground within a week.
He captured each instrument, experimenting with different sonic techniques. A raw style filled with unique nuances warmed by the scope of the country hall naturally took shape. The instinctual and rugged storytelling ability is apparent and strikes more than a chord in the listener through rich narratives and the evocation of impressive imagery.
Speaking of the creative process, Baxter recounts “A song for me can start from anything. Sometimes I'll hear someone say a word and that will start the process, other times, it’s an image that I focus on.”
Our New Life Above The Ground was initially available for free download from the Avalanche City website. “I just wanted people to have it,” Baxter explains. “I'd worked so hard making this album and if I’d sold it, it would have only reached a few hundred people. I just cared so much more about people having it, listening to it, sharing it with their friends and hopefully identifying with the songs.“
He wasn’t sure what to expect, but the response was overwhelming, and the album quickly reached near-platinum status from free downloads alone, despite a lack of major radio support. The song shot to number one on the New Zealand singles chart, becoming the fastest selling debut #1 for a New Zealand group in New Zealand since the beginning of the digital era, stamping itself all over the nation’s airwaves and swiftly surpassing double platinum status. Subsequently released through more conventional channels, Our New Life Above The Ground debuted at #1 on the iTunes album chart, reached #4 on the national album chart and climbed beyond gold status.
The immediate future for Avalanche City holds plenty of promise - the promise of time on the road throughout the United States. “The United States is such a great big country,” says Baxter. “A lot of the excitement and adventure for me is the uncharted territory. And that’s the amazing thing about the States, no matter how much time you spend here there’s always more beautiful places to see and explore and more great people to meet, and more deep fried food to eat.” Avalanche City was able to play the United States earlier this year performing a string of shows in March 2012 at SXSW before heading out on the road opening for Fun. on several dates.
Although Avalanche City is a solo project, live performances will feature various musicians and instruments from mandolin, ukulele, glockenspiel, to accordion – a full rendition of the album and its magic… “One thing I want for Avalanche City is for it to constantly push musical boundaries. The other guys who tour with me are so talented at what they do and are just great at interpreting the album and putting their own flavor into it.”
Avalanche City is the epitome of lo-fi pop perfection: delicately woven chords wrapped around honest words of dedication that are guaranteed to warm the heart of the true music fan.
David Baxter is an artist who so passionately felt the need to create his own music, he dedicated the entire past year to slowly learning how to sing, play, record and perform – the result being a unique perspective and a tender voice just ripe for the moment.