Animal Years - the folk-pop-rock trio comprised of Mike McFadden (lead vocals, guitar), Anthony Saladino (bass), and Anthony Spinnato (drums) - returns with the new single, “Talkin’ To You,” in anticipation of a string of new material slated to be released throughout 2021.
Formed in 2013 when McFadden relocated from Baltimore, MD, to NYC, the band independently released their first album, Sun Will Rise, the following year. After building buzz playing all of the city’s best venues such as Bowery Ballroom and Brooklyn Bowl, the band inked their first record deal with Entertainment One and recorded the new EP, Far From Home, with Ryan Hadlock, known for his work with The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile, and Vance Joy. Released in 2017 to nationwide acclaim, the EP features the singles, “Caroline” and “Friends,” the former of which has racked up over 6.5 million streams on Spotify.
The band spent much of the following year on the road, including a stint opening for Blues Traveler and a sold-out hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg, balancing the excitement of watching their dreams come true with the harsh reality of being an emerging act that still needed day jobs to pay their bills. “It was weird because we were doing things like performing on national television shows and playing to thousands of people a night, and then we’d come home and couldn’t even pay rent,” McFadden remembers. But they kept pushing on, doubling down on their mantra to do things as if they only had a few short years to live - an ideology that serves as the meaning for the band’s name.
In February of 2019, Animal Years headed down to Nashville to record a new collection of songs with GRAMMY-nominated producer Paul Moak. Much of the album was recorded live to tape, coming as close as possible to capturing the indescribable energy and dynamic of an Animal Years show. Moak, an accomplished multi-instrumentalist in his own right, has his hands all over the songs, playing everything from electric guitar and piano to more experimental sounds like synthesizers and tubular bells that, when blended against McFadden’s characteristically drive-y Rickenbacker guitar tone, add sonic layers to the songs that don’t exist on the band’s previous endeavors.
The band felt they’d made their best music to date. Unfortunately, the day after they left the studio, they were informed that they’d been dropped by their record label. “Essentially with a stroke of a pen, any plans to release new music were out the window,” says McFadden. Needing a mental reset, in early 2020, McFadden and Saladino moved to Nashville, while Spinnato continued to reside in New York. And then, just as things were starting to get settled, everything was once again derailed - first by a tornado, then by a global pandemic, and then by national unrest. McFadden and Saladino, frustrated by most of the music industry’s hollow and performative support of the Black Lives Matter movement, turned to their new community and the larger issues facing the country. The duo spent the summer participating in a 62-day occupation of the Tennessee state capitol protesting police brutality, an intense experience that has instilled in them a newfound sense of purpose. “Once the occupation ended and the long-term realities of the pandemic started to sink in, we revisited all this music we’d been sitting on and decided it was time to get it out,” says McFadden.