David and Matthew met at a Philadelphia area fundraiser for a friend’s cancer non-profit. Cocktail party banter turned to music and the two realized they were both at the same place in their lives: too far away from playing in a band.
In the summer of 2016, Dave and Matt learned a list of covers from their wheelhouse: the nineties and 2000s. U2, Radiohead, REM… It was nostalgic. Fun. But somewhere along the way, covers lost their intrigue and writing songs became a priority. Riffs recorded and texted met lyrics on the other end, Sunday all-day rehearsals became creative sessions. And goals were set: Share music with others. That’s what music is for.
This venture needed a name. Dave noticed a sign on his way to Matt’s house in Ardmore, PA. “Ardmore. Formerly Athensville. Renamed… 1873.” An obscure historical footnote and a serendipitous allusion to a shared favorite band’s hometown gave both David and Matt a sense of permanence, of concreteness. Athensville would be a good place to stay.
After a screen-shattering ‘launch’ party at Dave’s house, at which the electric/acoustic duo played 30 covers and entertained the invited neighbors and friends, Athensville began playing out.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2017, Matt and Dave played The Grape Room in Manayunk, Fergie’s Pub in Center City, The Philadelphia Brewing Company, and a few other local bars. Covers started to make way for their originals as the duo set new goals: record these songs and add a rhythm section.
With influences as far-flung as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Smiths, and Rodriguez, and with Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies in their heads (“Remember the quiet evenings,” “Don’t be afraid of things because they are easy to do”), Athensville took five original songs into the studio in March of 2018. Good friend and drummer Tom Mellon of Philly’s own The Parsnip Revolt, along with good friend and singer Jenn Wilkinson of East Branch Revival, joined them to lend their abundant talents to the project.
Outside of the studio or, more precisely, in the lobby and hallway of the studio, the BandMix and Craigslist search for other musicians to help perform these songs gained steam and soon made headway.
Enter James Farrell, veteran drummer playing with several area bands. As James walked into the rehearsal studio for an audition, the Athensville sound was about to take a massive step forward. Dave and James began the opening instrumental measures to a U2 classic and a genuine rock and roll chemistry revealed itself. James’s precision and acumen were immediately evident and his depth and range were so strong that Dave and Matt didn’t hesitate for a second. Athensville had found a drummer. The fact that he works for the National Park Service, guaranteeing Athensville free entrance to Yellowstone for life, was not a factor.
As the recording came together, Matt and Dave took a moment to reflect on the flourishing of this project since its conception two years prior. They agreed that this EP is the essence of what they had started; a true manifestation of why they connected on that first night. This EP is the center of Athensville. It’s Athensville, Proper. The EP is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, CDBaby.com, and of course the enduring Compact Disc featuring the impressive artwork of Steve Perry.
Throughout 2019 Athensville continues the writing and recording of their next set of new tunes, the band now rounded out by the experienced and skillful bassist, Mark S. Walsh. A brother in arms, a meeting of the minds ... whatever the metaphor, Mark weaves rhythmically into the fabric of the band and punctuates the beginning of the next exciting chapter for Athensville.
Join Athensville as they perform throughout the Philadelphia area and beyond.