As some of you know, and we expect many of you don't, several of the songs from Fragments of Space-Time have been part of the band's setlist for many years, and have never been professionally recorded until recently. Today, we're going to explore the origins of "I Expect", "Maximum Potential" and "Half-Naked", which have been kicking around since the very early days of the band.
Back in 2002, when Birch Riley was touring as a trio in support of their debut album, "Scattered", the band had a unique opportunity to record some material while on the road. Upon the conclusion of their gig at the Holiday Bowl in Hayward, California, the band was approached by an enthusiastic sound engineer who offered to bring the band into his studio and record a free demo. They had a tour stop the following day, but knew that they would be traveling back through the area later on the tour, so they thought, "Why Not?" The guys were thrilled to have this opportunity, and they just so happened to have a collection of original songs in their setlist which had yet to be recorded.
A few months down the road, the band arrived at the "studio", to find that it was, in actuality, a residential home with a makeshift studio set up in the living room. Again, this opportunity was a free one, so the guys cannot help but reach the conclusion, "Why Not?", once more. Knowing that they only had one afternoon to spend on the recording, the guys narrowed down their choice of songs to (a still rather ambitious) five. After some deliberation, the guys decided that "I Expect", "Maximum Potential" "My My You You", "Never But Forever" and "Half-Naked" would make the cut.
Recording was swift and efficient, as the process was just as if they were setting up for a live show...but this live show just happened to be in a living room. No frills, no instrumental overdubs, just the band playing live in a room with the tape rolling. The band did a few passes of each song in order to give the engineers multiple takes to work with, and then Wes overdubbed his vocals so that they would be free of any other instrumental bleed. What you will hear on the resulting EP are 5 songs that are essentially unedited single takes. Despite the fairly low production value, the EP did an amazing job at capturing the energy of these songs and the tightness of the band that can only come from playing together on the road for many months. After knocking out the 5 songs in a single afternoon, the band packed up their gear, thanked their new engineer friends for their work, and headed toward their next tour stop.
After the tour concluded, the band received an envelope in the mail, containing a single CD. That CD contained the final mixes of those 5 songs; an EP that has come to affectionately be known as "Why Not?" This EP has only existed as a bootleg passed between friends and family for many years, but in celebration of the release of Fragments of Space-Time, the band has decided to upload this EP exclusively to their Soundcloud page for everyone's listening enjoyment. Take a listen for yourself and see how "I Expect", "Maximum Potential", and "Half-Naked" have evolved through the years. While you're at it, check out the two other early Birch Riley songs that you may never have heard before!
We in the band thank you all for reading, listening, and continuing to support Fragments of Space-Time. We hope to write more articles in the near future that explore the origins of even more songs from the record.