It’s a cold, wet evening in March and Luke Hughett is walking toward the end of the block to a run-down 3-story apartment building. This building pokes out awkwardly on a lonely street of single-story industrial shops in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn. It’s a bustling place by day but turns eerily quiet at night. This old apartment building and the music that emanates in the evenings is one exception.
This is the place where Frozen Falls has been meeting nearly every Tuesday night for the past five years to record their album, “I Promised You Pyramids”. The band used to share a rehearsal space in the basement of the Westbeth Apartments in the West Village but were forced to find a new space five years ago when their lease was up. This space on the fringes of Sunset Park seems to suit the band and their music – it’s both out of the way and out of place.
Luke enters the building through a well-worn entryway and up a creaky set of stairs to the top floor of the building. An unlocked door opens to a wide open space with musical instruments and amps scattered about along with an old church altar chair, assorted furniture pieces, and red paper globe pendants hanging from the ceiling. The ceiling is exposed to reveal splintered wooden beams that don’t quite look robust enough to hold the roof above.
“Hey fellas!” Luke shouts enthusiastically as he enters. The other members of the band, Dave Hollinghurst and Jude Flannery, are gathered in the back of the room around the control board like campers around a fire. Jude, the vocalist and bassist, is going through a list of ‘last minute ideas’ on a clipboard. Dave, the guitarist and the lead engineer, has a stack of notes at his side – evidence of mixing progress over the past few months.
Everyone stands arms outstretched to exchange hugs that aren’t passing or routine; these guys have history. Their smiles stretch wide in an authentic and familiar glow.
“One more session and it’s a wrap,” says Dave, pausing in anticipation for snarky retorts from the others.
“Plenty of time,” says Luke with a dead dry, sarcastic delivery. “I am almost done with the lyrics,” pipes in Jude as he looks over his list of items. Luke and Dave just look at each other unamused because they know he isn’t kidding.
Watching the band, it’s clear they are comfortable with each other even when under pressure. Why shouldn’t they be? They have been making music together in one form or another for over 13 years.
Back in 2003, they were rehearsing multiple days a week and playing shows throughout the city. They recorded their first album in 7 days in a recording studio in Gowanus where everything just clicked into place. They went on to build a makeshift studio in a commercial loft in Bushwick where they could craft their sound. They wrote multiple records worth of material during that time and played some high-profile shows opening for other emerging bands at the time, such as The National and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. But then it ended as quickly as it began as Jude moved to Philly and the other members pursued other projects in 2005.
“I remember we were all gathered on the roof of the loft just staring out at the city in silence,” says Jude. “I think we all knew it was over, but we’d stayed in touch.”
“Luke and I visited Jude in Philly and just stayed up late one night listening to old rehearsal ideas,” said Dave. “It was pretty clear that I missed what we had in New York,” says Jude.
Jude moved back to NYC in 2008, and they decided to get back together a year later, but a lot had changed in four years and it kept changing. Life happened, there was a lot of making ends meet, moving around, changing jobs, getting married, starting families, and coping with loss.
Tuesdays became a night when they got away from their days. Tuesdays were not about drinking beers and jamming out – they were about documenting what they went through and how they were coping with it.
The record may only be eight songs, but it sounds like it was distilled over many years. There is something that everyone can relate to on some level, but it tends to focus on the fringes of those relationships. Whether it’s a break in a rift with a lover, friend, sibling, child or parent.
Their first album in 2003 was recorded in seven days and captured a moment in time. This album took them nearly seven years, but it spans significant moments in their lives. These are the signs of a different type of working band – working through their lives and documenting what happens through their music.
Listening to the record, it definitely is music to be experienced alone, with headphones on while walking around the city or in car on a long drive. But if you give it a chance, it will grow with you over time, like it has for this band, on the fringes of their lives.