The Stash Band makes music that defies easy categorization. “The only label I could think of is ‘Stash music,’ but nobody knows what that is, so that’s not very helpful,” remarks bandleader and iconoclastic bluegrass guitarist Stash Wyslouch with a cheeky gleam in his eye. Chapter 3 is The Stash Band’s third album, appropriately named for its chronological significance. Since 2015, when Stash formed the band under the banner of bluegrass meeting heavy metal, the music has taken on a life of its own. Chapter 3 features drummer/vocalist Sean Trischka, fiddle player Duncan Wickel and bass player Max Ridley. The album will be self-released December 12, 2018 in both physical and digital formats.
Recorded in two days at Dimension Sound Studios in Jamaica Plain, MA, Chapter 3 is a sonic snapshot of a band known for their outlandish stage antics (napping and shaving on stage, for example) and frenetic musical aesthetic. Upon listening, one finds The Stash Band dashing from Schoenbergian dissonances and free jazz explosions to old-school country fiddling and gospel-inflected lyrics and themes.
Songs include a smash-the-patriarchy anthem “Start acting like a man, (and stop acting like a man)”; the delicate narrative of an amateur musician gone mystic, “Johnny Gets High”; and the conflation of eroticism and religious zeal in “Jesus in my Pants.” The music is adventurous, edgy, and veritably unhinged.
Don’t be fooled, though – despite its kaleidoscopic nature, Chapter 3 stands as a cohesive piece of work. “Even in this day and age of streaming and singles, I’m still most interested in bodies of work,” remarks Stash. “You look at great artists like Sun Ra, Anthony Braxton, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, etc, and you see in their BODIES of work an extension of their LIFE – the good and the bad. This extension of life in music form… that is what we try to do every time we get together and play music. Chapter 3 is a logical continuation of what we’ve been building and growing since the beginning of The Stash Band, and I think it’s a great representation of the fun we have, and the life-affirming qualities we try to bring to the music at all times!”
The composition process for most of the album involved stream-of-consciousness riffs born of what Stash calls “exclamations.” He often documented these tonalized yelps and screams while walking down a city street, inputted them as a voice memo on his iPhone, and finally orchestrated and arranged them for The Stash Band. The lyrics jolt from nonsensical gibberish to poignant social commentary to old-school country cadences.
“The Stash Band is part of a life-mission to increase understanding and empathy through unexpected music. Each record captures a new evolution of musical, social and spiritual thought in the hopes that by the end of The Stash Band's life, a body of work would have been compiled that will help people in the future and present function with a more open mind.”
“Oh, and the cover,” adds Stash. “That’s a drawing I made when I was 7 years old, and a good self-reminder to never forget child-like wonder.”