Old Light is a Portland, Oregon based musical group active since 2009. Current members include Garth Klippert, Patrick Finn, and Scott DeMay. They have released six full length albums, an EP, and have had songs featured on compilations. They have toured periodically in the United States and Canada and have played several music festivals.
Formation, 2009 - 2012 lineup:
Old Light have been making music since 2009. The Portland band's original lineup consisted of Garth Klippert (touring member of The Fruit Bats; pick up member of Sixto Rodriguez's band in 2009 alongside members of The Fresh & Onlys, co-writer on Pressure Chief by Cake), Charlie Hester (also of Parson Redheads), Jesse Reklaw, and Todd Roper (drummer for Cake, 1996-2001). The instrumentation consisted of electric Autoharp, electric guitar, bass, and drums, with three-part vocal harmonies. Reklaw departed the band within months of Old Light's formation, and was replaced by Patrick Finn (Organic Mechanic, Weezer). Their debut album "The Dirty Future," which received mixing help from Portland music scene veteran Mike Coykendall, was released by Arena Rock Recording Co. in 2010. John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees) described Old Light's first lineup as "Crosby, Stills, and Nash if they didn't suck." Popmatters called it "a kind of hazy Southern California by way of Alabama resonance that the best music of Neil Young occupies." This lineup reached its peak playing the Pickathon festival in 2011. Founding member Charlie Hester left the band following their West Coast tour in Summer 2012. Abandoning the Autoharp and the folding chairs they had sat in onstage, Old Light's sound shifted to a more aggressive, guitar- and drums-driven approach. During this time, the band had shared bills with acts as diverse as Black Mountain, Sallie Ford, Jolie Holland, and Sonny & the Sunsets.
2013 lineup, Cassette Project:
In January 2013, Curly Cassettes label owner Sam Farrell encouraged Old Light to record their live set. The band enlisted engineer Brent Asbury (Pinback, Thingy) to record it on a Tascam 388 in frontman/songwriter Garth Klippert's basement. Asbury mixed the live tracks direct to cassette master, and in less than a week, the band had a full-length cassette, titled "NO," for sale at a show. UK-based blog Chybucca Sounds called "NO" a "violent squall line between garage-punk and psych." Old Light then announced their intention to write, record, and release five full-length albums of music in 2013. Using the project as an opportunity to explore the creative process together, the band nominated one of their members to act as "producer" each time.
Scott DeMay (drums, keyboards, and guitar) produced the second tape, "TIME," enlisting veteran Portland engineer/producer Mike Coykendall (M. Ward, She & Him) to engineer and mix it. A more contemplative album than "NO," "TIME" was released April 20, 2013. It features three songs written and sung by Scott DeMay: "Bait & Switch," "Fake World," and "Only Human." The Willamette Week described it as "delightfully confusing curveball of an album".
Roper and Klippert worked on a large amount of improvised material that would culminate in the next release, "YES." It was mixed by Matthew Morgan and Scott Hampton. Cassette blog Tape Famous' Vikram Bastian characterized it as "everything you need to remember the days when bands were bands, playing for music crowds rather than egos."
"SPACE" AND "MAGIC",
Following a self-booked Midwest tour that included the Nelsonville Music Festival and a Daytrotter session, the band returned home to play Pickathon 2013. Shortly thereafter, drummer Todd Roper suddenly moved to California. Remaining members Klippert, Finn, and DeMay resolved to complete the 5 album cassette project, as planned. "SPACE" uses several of Roper's drum tracks, as well as heavily featuring the work of (now full-time drummer) Scott DeMay. Engineer Seth Lorinczi (Circus Lupus, Corin Tucker Band) mixed the nine-song album. The fifth and final album of the series, "MAGIC," is a sound collage culled from all of the master tapes and live recordings the band recorded over the course of the project. It is composed of two 16-minute tracks, titled Variation I and Variation II.
"O.L.V. - Old Light Variations," a box set of all five cassettes, was released on October 5, 2013. The 3-piece lineup supported the release with a West Coast tour that included dates with Ty Segall,Thee Oh Sees, Kelley Stoltz, and Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats). Following this tour, Klippert toured as the Fruit Bats' keyboardist for their farewell shows. In January, Old Light were asked by The Presidents of the United States of America (band) to provide main support on February 14, 2014, at The Crystal Ballroom (Portland, Oregon).
Old Light have explored many styles and genres, yet maintain a consistent sound anchored mainly by Klippert's singing style and vocal harmony arrangements. From the band's inception until Hester's departure in June 2012, the electric Autoharp was a central component of the band's sound, as well as the two full drum sets played by Roper and DeMay. Since 2012, the band has moved the music into a heavier, more economical direction, with influences from psychedelia, surf-rock, hard rock, classic metal, and heavy soul.