The One Eighties is a name that aptly suits the duo comprised of Daniel Cook and Autumn Brand down to their core. Most artists dream of getting just a smidgen of the high praise their former band New Reveille received for their debut album The Keep. From The New York Times, Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists You Need To Know,” and Billboard to CMT, DittyTV, and stellar performances at Americanafest and on Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, and beyond, they were beginning to make a name for themselves. But like many a common tale, their record label folded, the pandemic hit, creative differences arose, and ultimately, the band went their separate ways.
“That experience was a massive part of the journey,” says Brand. “We didn’t know what would become of the music we had been tirelessly working on for what we thought would be the next New Reveille album, but we knew we had something there and we weren’t about to stop writing.” So, after many months of Zoom calls and few and far between outdoor writing sessions, the notoriously indecisive songwriters / multi-instrumentalists made a firm decision to move forward as a duo. They did a “180” and changed the course of their musical lives armed with an enormous desire to continue what was only just beginning for them. “What better way to memorialize our indecisiveness than to call ourselves The One Eighties” says Cook. But it’s more than just an acknowledgement of a character flaw they both share. “We decided we wanted to reserve the right to change course at any time and do a complete 180 if we so choose. It’s a statement that nobody is just one thing,” says Cook. “Even the way we were deciding upon the band name felt like the band name itself,” adds Brand. “It’s okay to do a 180 in life and in music. We both really feel that sentiment.”
With their new musical pursuits in their sight, they decided to take a month-long road trip across the country with the goal of figuring out, musically, who The One Eighties were. “We spent many hours listening to music in the car and talking about what all we liked sonically, lyrically, and otherwise,” says Cook. What they knew for sure was that they wanted to create something new so when they got back home, they got to work experimenting. They were spending time studying the engineering and producing work of other artists they admired when they came across some videos of Shawn Everett explaining step-by-step how he makes synth pads out of random samples and noise using Melodyne to shift pitches around. “That seemed way cooler than pulling up a preset in Logic and pushing a button. So, we built a lot of sonic textures that way,” says Cook. Out of necessity they got to work producing and mixing their songs in their Cary, NC home studio. “No label, no big fancy studios, just some help from a few friends, making the most of the limitations imposed by the pandemic,” says Cook.
They wanted to get back to basics, focusing on the writing and crafting of the songs while paying close attention to the instrumentation and recording process. Whereas New Reveille’s debut album was produced by a Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer and recorded at the distinguished Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, The One Eighties wanted to do the opposite. “Daniel and I recorded about 80% of what you hear in our home studio and played the majority of the instruments ourselves,” says Brand. They combine string sections and instruments including guitar, drums, bass, pedal steel guitar, keys, and cello with digital and analog synths on songs such as their debut single, “Dead Star Light,” a wistful song about letting go of a past that no longer exists. They even added trumpets and flutes on the unexpected disco inspired “No King” which elevates the hypnotic rhythm making the track a bit more grandiose in scale. But if you ask Cook what The One Eighties sound like he’d say “it’s like contemporary Americana spit the straw out, jumped in a DeLorean, and took a trip back to the 80’s by way of a Baroque-era chamber orchestra barbecue. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it’s the most accurate description I’ve managed so far.”
The One Eighties hope that listeners find something special in their music that’s just for them. “It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how you wear your hair, what you look like, what your hobbies are, or any of that mess,” says Brand. “We’re here to make music for everyone and just like any artist, our goal is in real human connection. We’re just sharing our take on life through music in hopes that someone out there will connect to it in a multitude of ways.” And with a collection of songs already written and recorded, the duo plan on releasing a series of singles before putting out their debut album early 2023. They don’t want to rush the process either, instead taking it slow, building their fanbase and audience with each song, and eventually, with each live show, and hopefully living out their dream of one day playing the main stage at Bonnaroo. But then again, they may do a 180 and change their mind about all of that too and that will be just fine.