It Came From Canyon County
The Invasion emerges with tales of anxiety and apocalypse
On Father's Day 2006, The Invasion began working on what would eventually become their debut full-length CD, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Madness, which was produced by local Grammy recipient, Art Hodge. Over the next two years, the title would prove increasingly appropriate.
With wives, girlfriends, careers and eight children collectively, the four-piece from Nampa certainly had their hands full. And that was even before panic attacks and a damaged residence—due to a misrouted clothes-dryer vent—threatened the band's future. The Invasion is Aaron Brown (vocals, piano, guitar), Nate Hanson (guitar, backing vocals), Shawn McKinley (drums) and Nathan Walker (bass, backing vocals). Images from McKinley's large oil paintings grace the album art and Brown's kids created designs for the band as well. Since around 2005, these guys have helped make sense and sound of Brown's bouts with anxiety, a condition worsened by his home—and the band's practice space—being practically destroyed by water and mold. Fortunately for himself the band, Brown's fine and still at Invasion's helm. "I've got it under control. I've got it under control, and I'm not letting go," he says.
Due in part to Brown's impressive vocals, The Invasion has been compared to Muse, Radiohead, Rufus Wainright and Queen. Though Brown said he doesn't know much about Radiohead's music (he later joked, "Maybe they could open for us.") his voice could easily be compared to Thom Yorke's. Brown's delivery is a great deal less quirky but shares a powerful drama with Yorke. Brown says that though he's not very familiar with Radiohead, he knows enough about the band to know that each time someone has compared his voice to Yorke's, it's been a compliment. Besides the vocal likeness, Brown's lyrics sometimes review similar themes. When asked about that comparison, Brown doesn't quite see himself as confronting his tormentors; "I don't think I stand up to the bully so much as ... I know something the bully doesn't know."
How I Learned is full of theatrical and explosive moments, like the one that is 40 seconds into the track "The Madness." Occasions like these pay tribute to Brian May and Queen, which may or may not be intentional. Guitarist Nate Hanson admitted that though he had some ideas as to how he wanted the guitars to sound, he decided to utilize Hodge's vintage Tone Bender fuzz pedal and Fender Super Champ amplifier for much of the guitar sounds on the album. Of course, having Hodge as their producer may open some doors for the band, but using his gear didn't hurt either. Between the collection of gear at Hodge's own Bakedspud Studios and anything else Hodge and the men of The Invasion could beg and borrow, they were able to use some enviable equipment. Brown was even able to borrow a Steinway piano for an afternoon hoping to enhance the album's more dramatic moments. Can a listener tell the difference? With headphones on, maybe. But authenticity was important to the band. The drums were done in two days. Most of the album was recorded "live, back-to-back as if we were doing a performance." Even after two years of work, they stuck with the original track sequence—a testament to the strength of Brown's initial vision. They experimented briefly with loops, percussion and synthesizers, but quickly returned to the sound of their band without those frivolities.
No matter how choice their sound or the selection of instruments at their disposal, a band isn't much without strong, well-written songs. Brown's vivid writing is evidently not much of a chore. "Some of the songs just come out ... I sit down and play through them start to finish the first time and they're done." His writing is perfectly complemented by his arrangements, and so much of the album exudes a sense of theater. "How's the Weather Up There?" paints a picture of post-modern despair before producing the doom-tastic line:, "When the sun goes black as night and the moon turns red as blood / when people flee into the hills and cities fall to dust." It's intense, but luckily The Invasion's debut is also at times downright bouncy. Though spilling with a bookish adventure lyrically, "The Emperor Of San Francisco" is a ready-made sitcom theme which might not be too far off. "Constancy," a song from The Invasion's 2005 EP, made its way into Stephen Baldwins' skate film Living it L.A. The band and Hodge seemed optimistic about the possibilities in licensing these new tunes for film and television.
The members of the band are also optimistic about their new release, as was evident during a raucous rehearsal. Just picture three big electric rock guitars, two keyboards, various family members, friends and to-the-rafters vocals. The Invasion's CD release show and their near future both stand to be explosive.
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Madness CD release party with The Universal, The Very Most and With Child; April 23, $5, 7:30 p.m. The Big Easy, 416 S. 9th St., 208-367-1212.