Tahoe music: Truckee rockers Coburn Station to release debut album at free Friday show in Crystal Bay
If you go
What: Coburn Station “CD Release Party” w/ openers The Space Heaters
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Red Room
When: 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26
TRUCKEE, Calif. — For the past three-plus years, Coburn Station has been your prototypical bar band.
Cutting their teeth in Truckee, the rock group has lived on a steady diet of weekend gigs — pumping out cover songs and a solid handful of originals — at the local pubs and eateries dotted in town and around the North Shore.
This past year, however, Coburn Station cranked their ambitions up a notch.
“We were like, OK, we got a whole bunch of songs that we think are really good and we’re really happy about them — let’s go ahead and make an album out of it,” said Dan McAlister, the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist.
Along with McAlister, the band is composed of Conor McAlindin (drums, vocals) and Thomas Page (bass, vocals). Ryan Taylor, a hired hand from local soul outfit The Sextones, also contributes keyboards.
Less than a year following that decision to pile into a recording studio for the first time, Coburn Station had a polished album in their hands.
And now, the Truckee-based rock band is eager to put their record in the hands of their fans and followers, too.
On Friday, Coburn Station will perform a free show inside the Crystal Bay Casino Red Room as their “CD Release Party” for their debut album titled “Coming Home.”
“We’ve probably been thinking about playing this party for a year,” said Conor McAlindin, drummer and backup vocalist. “Since the idea of the album came out, we always had a vision of celebrating in that room. So it’s kind of freaky that it’s here now, but we’re so excited because we’ve gained so much support and momentum and a fan base over the last year.
“Really our goal is to, one, let everyone know about the music and spread it to a wider audience, and to also thank the people that helped us along the way — and just throw a big party.”
A community effort
The truth is, if it weren’t for Coburn Station’s loyal supporters, there likely wouldn’t be an album to share.
Through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Coburn Station was able to raise roughly half the funds necessary to record an LP, McAlister said.
“So that was a cool way to get a lot of people involved in the project right from the very beginning,” added McAlister, noting the total investment was about $9,000. “So from the start it was definitely a real community, team effort to get it off the ground.”
The recording process
Once Coburn Station got off the ground, it migrated to Oakland.
Because not only did the Truckee rockers crave to lay down a batch of original songs for the first time, they wanted to do so at a high-end recording studio — Sharkbite Studios, tucked in Oakland’s Jack London Square.
There, Coburn spent a total of six sessions — full eight-hour days — tracking 11 songs, as well as three more days mixing the record with the studio engineer. By all measures, it was a torrid pace in the realm of recording an album.
“Doing 11 songs in six sessions is definitely a push, and that was a financial decision because we couldn’t let the record take forever,” McAlindin said. “We drank a ton of coffee — one of the funny things we noticed when we first went down there, we were like, man, we’re all playing so fast … That’s because we all drank four cups of coffee (laughs).”
Nevertheless, due to work schedules, vacations, weddings, and every other time commitments throughout the year, the process of recording and finalizing the album spanned seven months.
A ‘Mountain Rock’ record
Consisting of 11 songs, Coburn Station’s album “Coming Home” is a diverse blend of rock genres, which McAlister dubbed “Mountain Rock.”
“I think there is a really good variety in the songs to where some of it is heavier, really loud, kind of aggressive,” he continued. “There are other areas to it that are really psychedelic and spacey. And there are things that are a little more bluesy, things that are more country Americana.”
Or, as McAlindin puts it: “It’s an in-your-face album at points, and then it will cuddle you afterward.”
Encapsulating Coburn’s eclectic collection of songs, the album opens with the soulful blues jam “Wise Men Disagree” and closes with the folk ballad — and title track — “Coming Home.”
Another highlight includes the penultimate track “Streetlight,” a sprawling nine-minute psychedelic jam that calls to mind “The Wall”-era Pink Floyd.
“I’ve had people tell me when listening to our record,” McAlindin said, “they think of the Grateful Dead or Phish or Pink Floyd. And it’s no surprise, because those are our idols and those are our influences, so they definitely came out in the album.”
A pivot point
With a debut album in the bag and their first headlining gig at the CBC on the horizon, Coburn Station has come a long way in just a year’s time.
So the question they are asking themselves now, McAlindin said, is where do they go from here?
“We’re at this funky Coburn Station 2.0 kind of moment where, are we just an amateur band, or are we trying to be more than that?” he said. “The album was really a culmination of the first part of Coburn Station, so now it’s like, OK, what’s the next step? And that’s literally what 2016 is.”
Added McAlister: “Whether it be the songs, our gear and our rig, our performance, we’ve always been trying to incrementally make it bigger and better.”
But before they map out their trajectory for the year, the Truckee-based band is dialed in on putting on a head-banging, body-moving show for their fans come Friday.
“Seeing music and partying with our friends is a ton of fun,” McAlister said. “Playing it and creating that scene, is that much more fun. There’s nothing more fun that getting up and rocking for people that are dancing and partying and having a good time.”
Added McAlindin: “I think this party is going to do it (the album) the justice it deserves; the justice we always wanted it to have.”