The Fresh and Onlys' Tim Cohen ditches the city for rural Arizona and returns with a new record — and new tensions
But Cohen's foray into the desert wasn't all artistic introspection and exploration. The lack of constant and face-to-face communication with his bandmates exacerbated tensions already simmering in the band. That inevitable and familiar dilemma of young parents trading time with their lifelong friends for time with their nascent families provided another strain.
"People were being pulled in a lot of different directions. It began with me moving away. When your buddy has a kid and moves away, a lot of times you can feel a sense of abandonment. In a lot of ways we think of this band as our own baby," he says. "It was almost like running off and having a baby with someone else." Not to mention, other bandmates were dealing with evictions and layoffs.
Did the stress ever seriously threaten the album? "Absolutely, at almost every turn," says Cohen. "We had a limited amount of recording days when I came back to SF, which created a sense of urgency and contributed to inflammation of the issues afflicting the band. These were my songs and demos. [Normally] I send the demos to guys way in advance, they think 'How can I hear this and contribute to it?' and that's how it pretty much works. This time around it was a little less of that."
For all his recounting of the hurdles and "external and internal issues," Cohen presents a stoic demeanor, and seems confident that the band has escaped its stormy period.
"In the end we won the big victory," he says. "This album is definitely a grower."
Fresh and Onlys record release show
With Cold Beat, Devon Williams
July 5, 8pm, $15
777 Valencia, SF