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Days Between Stations

by Radio Nowhere

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about

Singer/songwriter: for most people, the term still brings to mind the sound of one voice and a fingerpicked guitar, or a quiet piano, sketching a monochromatic study of one individual’s emotional landscape. Mike Baker, who performs and records as the Northern California alternative pop/rock act Radio Nowhere, is not that kind of singer/songwriter.

Possessed by kaleidoscopic musical visions and a tendency to spend more time singing about hostage crises than inner pain, Baker plays a whole pawnshop’s worth of different instruments and handles all of the engineering and production chores in solo pursuit of his own brand of panoramic sound.

It’s an amalgam of loud guitars, mistreated beatboxes, catchy choruses and a reverence for classic pop song form that marks Radio Nowhere as something like the missing link between Tom Petty and Duran Duran. Fans who’ve always loved these artists, plus Neil Finn, Aimee Mann, Counting Crows and Elvis Costello, but wished that they’d turn their guitars up a little bit, will definitely notice a kindred spirit at work in Radio Nowhere.

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Radio Nowhere first came to public attention on the San Francisco Bay Area bar & coffeehouse scene, while Baker was working an endless series of strange day jobs – rooftop acorn remover, online rock’n'roll trivia oracle, farm animal impersonator (including a stint as the successor to the late, legendary Mel Blanc [aka Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc.] as the famous Berkeley Farms cow) – devoting nights to honing his skills as an electric guitarist and building up his catalog of original songs.

A demo tape of these songs caught the ear of several local musicians, most notably original Counting Crows drummer Steve Bowman. “We went mountain biking in the Oakland hills," Baker recalls, "and in between crashes, he told these hilarious stories about opening for the Rolling Stones. I screwed up the courage to play him my demo, he really liked it and offered to help me put a band together.” With Bowman as de facto musical director, a rock star lineup that included members of Primus, Mazzy Star, and the bands of Chuck Prophet, Peter Gabriel, and Jackson Browne came together to record Baker’s debut album and join him onstage.

“The core of the band was there and sounding fantastic,” remembers Baker, “but we really needed keys. One of my friends, a public school teacher in Richmond, said ‘oh, there’s this guy at my school who plays piano – he might be interested’: turned out to be the guy who’d played piano on Van Morrison‘s “Moondance” record, and a bunch of Bonnie Raitt‘s stuff besides. I said I thought he’d do…”

The resulting album, “Interstate Medicine” – underwritten entirely by friends and fans in a pioneering example of crowdfunding – garnered critical acclaim and an award from the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. Several songs from the album were picked up by radio stations worldwide, and soon ecstatic reviews were coming in from places like Scotland, Germany, Australia, and India.

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Before long, acclaim for the first album began to transition into demand for more music. Radio Nowhere's subsequent releases - "Days Between Stations" and "Under Strange Skies" - start with Baker’s old standbys – acoustic and electric guitars, bass, drums and piano – and spike them with buzzy synths, dubbed-out snares, effected washes of sound and the odd sample to create music poised somewhere between then and now, organic and electronic, sloppy and robotic.

You might guess that Baker's lyrical preoccupations don’t exactly fit with the bland love songs and anodyne navel gazing that pervades pop radio and TV drama soundtracks these days, and you’d be right. A quick scan of Radio Nowhere’s lyrics reveals references to New World history, kidnappings, capital punishment, latent Catholicism, medieval torture devices, genocide, shanghaied sailors, running from the highway patrol – “all the catchy stuff!” he says. The songs also toy with an element that seems to have gone AWOL from much of today’s music – humor – with occasional sly twists and asides in the manner of Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello.

Radio Nowhere is currently ensconced in the studio, working on an album’s worth of new songs that will be released one by one, as they’re finished, throughout 2012. The new tracks are developing in very different directions, yet each one is still stamped with Radio Nowhere’s trademark devotion to thoughtful lyrics and widescreen sound.

credits

released July 4, 2008

All songs written and recorded by Michael Baker.
Mixing on "Shotgun" by Charles Stella.
Mastering by Justin Weiss.

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about

Radio Nowhere Oakland

ABOUT
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Radio Nowhere is a singer/songwriter-led band from Oakland, California, in the United States. A friend told me that we sound like the missing link between Lyle Lovett and Led Zeppelin, and that sums it up pretty well. ... more

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Track Name: London Calling
----LYRICS----

I been waiting in the airport bar for hours
I been wondering if they’re gonna make me drink all day
Last call calling on a non-stop back to the heartland
Calling on your getaway

Every day I’m trying to slide by on kodachrome kisses and headlines
Did I tell you that I wish you were here?
invisible man, catch me stumbling out of the underground
I just want to disappear

London is calling/everybody cut & run
come see what drink and the devil have done
somebody’s falling/did they make you give up your gun?
and I might not reach you in time

midnight rider on the Jubilee down to the high street
rule brittannia/show you how to rise and fall
and I remember the 4th of July up on Hampstead Heath alone
ain’t no rocket’s red glare/don’t you know that nobody cares about
another lost ugly American in this town

London is calling/everybody cut & run
come see what drink and the devil have done
somebody’s falling/did they make you give up your gun?
and I might not reach you in time

and from the corner of the Marble Arch back home to your rolling fields
a soapbox preacher is reaching out
and you’ve been lonely and you’ve been lost/I know it’s true
but every american girl thinks she’s run out of time

London is calling/everybody cut & run
come see what drink and the devil have done
somebody’s falling/did they make you give up your gun?
and I might not reach you in time
Track Name: Catherine Wheel
backseat driver with something to prove
she was runnin some daytime night moves
she said to leave the radio on

rolled out for a cigarette
don't you stay too long/gonna play our song
but you know that song never came on

and I don't think I'll make it to the next turn of the screw
'cause the only thing that keeps me here is you

so roll on/sister roll on
hold on to the wheel
roll away forever/roll away from what you feel
take the car 'cause you come this far
who am I to keep you down?
'cause my world turns on Catherine Wheels
whenever you're around

well I guess we bought what they sold us
believed in what they told us
that we'd be safe here on this holy ground
well I guess ain't no one to blame
stood and watched it go up in flames
couldn't even feel it burning down

and every night I have this dream where I'm sinking like a stone
just praying I'll be waking up alone

so roll on/sister roll on
hold on to the wheel
roll away forever/roll away from what you feel
take the car 'cause you come this far
who am I to keep you down?
'cause my world turns on Catherine Wheels
whenever you're around

who am I to keep you?
I just tried to reach you
with you it's always on with the show
so I'm letting you go

whenever you want to roll
Track Name: Halfway Home
There was fever in the coal black boots that she wore
She danced like a hurricane coming ashore

Yeah, the warning came but I was too far gone
Tied myself to the mast/let the storm come on

So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
When you're halfway home you can call on me
When you're halfway home you can find me


Well I put up a red light/stop/she was through it
She was gonna come out on top and she knew it
She said "come on people, now, give him a hand
The ship's going down but you can still hear the band"


So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
When you're halfway home you can call on me
When you're halfway home you can find me

Oh, they said I should've known
One look and I turn to stone
I was waiting for you/I was waiting for you to come 'round
But your sailing tide, it was ebbing fast
And we were born to run, not built to last

So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway

So far/from your lonely room
Do you/miss the sound of the freeway
When you're halfway home you can call on me
And you're halfway home so far
Track Name: Shotgun
i / been trying to call you / get you on the phone
couldn't get you alone/ couldn't get you at all
i was just trying to break through
i can't get over the wall
couldn't get through to tell you / that your

shotgun lover took another one to cover up the pain that he couldn't hide
you wished him well / gave him a kiss and a shell
with his name inscribed on the side
and you said sellout / you can get the hell out now
i can find my way alone
but you're a little girl lost in the wilderness now
and I don't think you're coming home
oh no

ooh / i see the way that they watch you
counting up the cost/the lines you shouldn't have crossed
'cause right now, there's nothing else waiting to come due
you're paying for what you've done
girl I was walkin/you better run/run and tell 'em that your

shotgun lover took another one to cover up the pain that he couldn't hide
you wished him well / gave him a kiss and a shell
with his name inscribed on the side
the one who sold out / I couldn't hold out
left you the queen of rock'n'roll
but you're a little girl broke on the boulevard now
and you already sold your soul

yeah you're a little girl
and you're losin' it
spending up something so real
like it was counterfeit
like it never meant nothing at all