Wayfarer Plans Special Hometown Release Show in Denver for New Album | Westword

Wayfarer Plans Special Hometown Release Show for New Album

Fresh off a European tour, Wayfarer will be playing American Gothic in its entirety during a hometown release show at the Bluebird on Friday, March 29.
Denver's own gothic cowboys Wayfarer do it again on new album.
Denver's own gothic cowboys Wayfarer do it again on new album. Courtesy Frank Guerra
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Metalheads love history, for some reason. Unlike other genres — except for perhaps folk and bluegrass — the number of metal bands that are solely inspired by historical events and pay homage to specific eras is many.

Fans can even learn something from listening to Sabaton, the Swedish power metal outfit obsessed with world wars and consequential battles, or the Egyptology-loving death metal of Nile from South Carolina.

Shane McCarthy, the guitarist and vocalist of Wayfarer, admits to being a fan of such music, particularly European groups that leaned into local lore through lyrics and imagery, and approaches his Denver band the same way. Since 2011, Wayfarer has built its own catalog of what’s been called “Black Metal of the American West,” chronicling the arduous and violent times of western U.S. expansion and settlement.

For McCarthy and his bandmates, Isaac Faulk (drums), Jamie Hansen (bass and vocals) and Joe Strong-Truscelli (guitar), it’s about being authentic to their roots. “I think it comes down to that we are all from here. We've grown up around the mountains and plains and the history of the West our whole lives,” McCarthy explains, adding that a love for Western films and spending time on his grandfather’s ranch “planted the seeds young.”

“Then the historical and cultural interests kicked up as I approached adulthood,” he says.

As a result, Wayfarer is a musical memoir of sorts; the band’s five full-lengths serve more like chapters filled with first-person stories from a bygone era than anything. “We figured the only way to genuinely do that would be to bring the culture and music of where we are from to the forefront,” McCarthy says. “In doing so, that rabbit hole of historical interest has only gotten deeper, which I am grateful for.”

The latest example is American Gothic, released on October 27 via Profound Lore Records. A chronological continuation to the cowboy lawlessness of 2020’s A Romance With Violence, the eight-song offering details life during the Depression-era Dust Bowl, when western prairies ravaged by drought and poor farming methods fell under a gritty veil for several years. Coupled with the country’s economic collapse, the Dust Bowl ruined the livelihoods of many settlers who first found the fertile lands hoping to build a decent life. It was hard living, to say the least.

American Gothic examines the soul of the nation as a whole, through the lens of the West, and it uses a lot of anecdotes and visions of the early twentieth century, with the nation becoming more established coast to coast and the takeover of industrialization,” McCarthy explains. “The Dust Bowl looms over the whole thing like a type of reckoning.”

Songs such as “The Thousand Tombs Of Western Promise” and “To Enter My House Justified” give a glimpse into what the human experience might have been like back then, while “Reaper On The Oilfields” and “Black Plumes Over God’s Country” references the simultaneous oil boom. The tracks would make Upton Sinclair, author of the 1927 novel Oil!, and method actor Daniel Day-Lewis, who starred in the 2007 film adaption titled There Will Be Blood, proud. Not to mention, The Grapes of Wrath writer John Steinbeck. “We drew specifically from American music and film this time instead of interpretations, like Italian films, on the last record,” McCarthy notes.

Fresh off a European tour, Wayfarer will be playing American Gothic in its entirety during a hometown release show on Friday, March 29, at Bluebird Theatre. Munly & the Lupercalians and Paul Reidl are also on the bill.

“This will most likely be the only time we play the whole album, and we are pulling out all the stops for sure,” McCarthy says. “We will be bringing out some exclusive guests for our set. It's going to be a one-of-a-kind show and probably our only one in town for some time.”

Munly, also of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, appears on “Black Plumes Over God’s Country,” along with George Cessna, Slim’s son. The inclusion is an homage and evidence of Wayfarer’s reverence to the “Denver Sound,” a type of alternative Americana popularized by Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and 16 Horsepower.

“Munly is a legend in this place, and a complete professional. His work on the voice-over and video, I think, made us elevate our game to try and match the gravitas he brings to these things,” McCarthy shares. “George is an incredibly talented vocalist and really brought that track together. We are very proud to have collaborators like this on this record. It still blows my mind when I think about it, really.”

McCarthy brushes off any talk that Wayfarer is ushering in the “new” Denver Sound. For now, there is no band out there, locally or elsewhere, that is playing black metal alongside Old West Vaudeville numbers. In that sense, Wayfarer is making history metal.

“We are definitely making an effort over the last several years to kind of honor that world of music and carry the torch in a new way that is also genuine to us and who we are,” McCarthy concludes. “So we are honoring it, but it seems like a new vein of it, if anything.”

Wayfarer, 8 p.m. Friday, March 29, Bluebird Theatre, 3317 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $22.50.
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