When do you know that it’s time to go full speed ahead? When does it stop being something you do on a small scale and start playing for keeps? When do you know that it’s good enough to let everyone else experience it too? For aliensdontringdoorbells, and their forthcoming album ARRIVAL, they know that time is right now.
The name – because everyone asks – took root many years ago when singer-guitarist-saxaphonist Dorian Foyil was on a New York City subway platform with his then-young son and an old man turned to the boy and said, “it’s because aliens don’t ring doorbells,” a phrase that stuck with Foyil from that day forward. When it came to finding a name for the group he formed with Adam King (lead and backing vocals) and Christian Pearl (keyboards, backing vocals), what was once just a memory of an old man – if indeed it was just that - chattering to himself just felt right as a band name.
Hailing from …Dorian: all over the USA, Adam: Liverpool, UK and Christian: Birmingham, UK, the men eventually connected in Costa Blanca, Spain, where a shared love for like-minded music turned out to be serendipity, and a band of brothers was born. In the summer of 2019, the guys convened to the Bahamas where Dorian now lives, and began recording demos at Sanctuary Studios along with drummer Kevin Dean and bassist Earl Forbes, who are studio musicians and former bandmates of Foyil. The famed studio has an amazing live room, where the band put down the keys (used by none other than Alicia Keys in the previous session), drums, bass as well as some vocals. In order to attract attention from bigger producers, the band wanted their demos to be as good as possible. That risky, but calculated decision worked. In September, they reconvened at Denver’s The Keep Studio to record all 12 songs on their album with producers such as Grammy winner Jeff Kanan (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Kelly Clarkson, No Doubt, Sting), Matthew Tryba (One Republic, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift) and Dan Konopka, an LA based producer who is also the drummer for the Grammy award winning band OKGO.
When it comes to songwriting, Dorian, Adam and Christian are emblematic of the saying “One for all, all for one.” There were no set roles; at times, Christian would come up with the melody and Adam and Dorian would add lyrics. At other times, Adam would come to the studio with a melody and lyrics already hummed/sang in to his iPhone. There were also a handful of songs that Dorian had nearly completed, so when the guys met in the Bahamas, they had a lot to choose from and work on.
The band’s first single, “Story,” is a stirring piece of music that captures the wisdom behind these aliens and their lyrics. Foyil’s unbridled and earnest singing sets the tone for this song of loss and renewal. “I wrote the song for aliens, and I had my young son and my dad in mind, as well as the span of time between us. The song reflects on the understanding that some letting go is needed to let the journey proceed through our lifetime and maybe beyond,” said Foyil. “It was the first song I played for Adam and Christian; they liked it and the next morning Adam and I worked up the chorus. The first time we played it all together we looked at each other and said ‘that will work’.” Added King, “ ‘Story’ feels very relevant right now as global events have given us time to reflect on our lives and what is really important.”
Moving both visually and aurally, “Story” is a tale any one could identify with. The gorgeously shot video, directed by Victor Maslyaev, utilized panoramic views to highlight the depth and complexity of the song. “We flew to the Ukraine to shoot the video in two main locations just outside of Kiev,” said the band. The video spans three generations of the same family, starting in World War II and ending with the young boy seen as a grandfather by the end. However, creating such a vivid picture wasn’t so simple. Remarked Pearl, “In order to shoot the hilltop scenes at the ‘magic hour,’ we had to arrive at 3am and ascend the hill in complete darkness with all our gear …the iPhone flashlight has never come in so handy!”
“Slipping Away,” a funky jam with an anthemic bridge, came from an idea Dorian had that the guys then worked on adding rhythmic changes that fit the tempo perfectly. The accompanying vid was also directed by Maslyaev, but has a much different feel to it than “Story.” “This came right from Viktor’s mind,” said the band about the short story which follows a lost love. That being said, the video’s a wild ride with the backdrop of fireworks, kung-fu, strippers and a Chucky doll!
aliens also filmed a live performance video for “Consummation,” a song with a rumbling bassline and a killer organ solo that would make Booker T. Jones proud. Directed by Tim Ryerson, it features the aforementioned Kevin Dean and Earl Forbes. The lyric popped into Adam’s head but the song was a collective effort. “We know we wanted a real drive to the song and it needed that saturated edge.” said King, “After an evening of jamming around the chords, the song came pretty naturally.”
The arrival of ARRIVAL is being met with much anticipation, which is pretty exciting even for three guys who have been playing music, in one form or another, their whole lives. “We all have a long history of gigging behind us, so we really can’t wait to perform our songs to a live audience,” said Pearl. Agreed Foyil, “The album is a very special opportunity for me and my bandmates, who are really great writers and musicians, to perform for the world the music we have created. The album is one way of telling your life story, and I can’t wait to stand on a stage soon somewhere and perform what we have inside of us.”
Photo: Ben Jamieson