Mitch Bowden is the founder of Mechanical Noise Studio, a recording studio that reportedly sits at the en dog a quiet, winding country road in Dunnville, Ontario, Canada; the sort of road frequently hared with foxes, windmills and little else. He’s also the founding member and creative mastermind behind indie rock act Don Vail — and over the past decade, all of those different identities have blurred into something synonymous for him.
Bowden emerged into the Canadian indie rock scene with the release of his 2009 Jordon Zadorozny-produced, self-titled debut, an effort that deftly paired harmonic warmth and dispassionate math rock riffs. And instead of serving as a launching pad for Bowden’s career and rising profile, he spent the better part of close to a decade, releasing eight songs and playing two shows. 2016’s self-recorded, self-performed effort Fades managed to be a carefully crafted effort that on a certain level revealed the effect that isolation can have on an artist — way too much personal control, mastery of their craft countered by crippling perfectionism and a lack of urgency.
Interestingly, during the spring of 2017, Bowden (and in turn, Don Vail) received a rather fortuitous invitation as a result of the previous year’s Fades — an invitation to record material at Grouse Lodge Studios in Ireland. Of course, there was a major catch: the window to show up and record wasn’t open indefinitely; in fact, Bowden only had a matter of a few weeks to turn sketches and pieces of ideas into fully fleshed songs. And at the time, Bowden realized that the band needed to be more than just him. So he enlisted the assistance of longtime drummer Victor Malang, guitarist Matthew Fleming and keyboardist/vocalist Kori Pop for the recording sessions for the act’s forthcoming third full-length album That Stand of Tide.
The newly-constituted quartet wrote and rehearsed material together — and they all treated the experience at Grouse Lodge as an opportunity not to be wasted. And although the album was finished back at Mechanical Noise Studios in a similar fashion to his previously released material, the trip to Ireland pushed Bowden to get his shit together and finish the album. Reportedly, the album’s 13 songs at points recall Guided by Voices, Jon Biron and Figure 8-era Elliott Smith. While that may be arguable, the album’s latest single “On The Wire is an anthemic bit of fuzzy power pop centered around big and seemingly effortless hooks, and a palpable anxiety and uncertainty; but at its core is an intentionally heartfelt earnestness.
Directed by Mitch Barnes and the band’s Victor Malang, the recently released video for “On The Wire” follows a painfully awkward and incredibly sad sack man, desperately trying to figure himself out and forge his own identity. And as he does so, he fails miserably — at everything. If there’s one thing that he’s good at, it’s his own nerdy awkwardness. Interestingly, the visuals are purposefully lo-fi, and bring to mind classic MTV with a mischievous aplomb.
Isolation keeps your ideas pure.
Isolation will drive you crazy.
At the literal end of a quiet, winding country road in Dunnville, Ontario—the kind shared with foxes, windmills, and little else—sits Mechanical Noise Studio. It is the picture of isolation.
This is the studio of Mitch Bowden. His band is called Don Vail. Don Vail is he. For a decade, Mitch, Mechanical Noise, and Don Vail have blurred into a synonymous thing. With the person and the means and the moniker intertwined—and isolated from all distractions—anything has been possible.
In January 2009, Don Vail released its Jordon Zadorozny-produced, self-titled debut. The album’s deft marriage of beguiling harmonic warmth and dispassionate math-rock riffage deserved to be a launching pad. Instead, the band spent the ensuing decade releasing precisely eight songs and playing two shows.
Fully self-recorded and mainly self-performed, 2016’s Fades was a beautifully realized reduction of Bowden’s melodic craftsmanship. But it also couldn’t hide the effects that isolation can have upon an artist—so much personal control and mastery countered equally by a near-choking perfectionism and lack of urgency. It was the sort of release that begged for the crack of a whip. And Bowden was about to get one.
In the spring of 2017, Don Vail received a fortuitous invitation. Concise as it was, Fades displayed more than enough promise to secure a stay at Grouse Lodge Studios, Ireland. But there was a catch—the window was not open indefinitely. Don Vail had only a matter of weeks to turn scattered shards of maybes into actual songs.
Don Vail needed to be more than Mitch Bowden.
Enlisting longtime drummer Victor Malang, as well as guitarist Matthew Fleming and keyboardist/vocalist Kori Pop, Bowden finally had the impetus to break his isolation. The freshly formed quartet rehearsed with relish, all of those expectant seeds quickly catching root in the verdant soil. Grouse Lodge, with its new faces and ancient energies, would not be an opportunity wasted.
That Stand Of Tide wasn’t finished in Ireland hardly matters. Sure, Bowden returned to Mechanical Noise to complete the sessions in much the same manner that he always had. But the overseas journey had turned something vital. Now the some day when shit would get done was today.
Compared to the controlled brevity of Fades, Stand Of Tide is an onrushing wave of generosity. Its 13 songs cascade forth with kaleidoscopic tonality—recalling in equal measure the effortless hooks of Guided By Voices, the arrangement acumen of Jon Brion, and the awe and melancholy of Figure 8-era Elliott Smith. It’s the kind of record that that can only be made by an exacting talent—one who at this point has had the time to puzzle over every last inch of his process.
Put all our plans away, sings Bowden on the title track. They only serve to stop motion.
Creative isolation—with its refinement, its process, its planning—can serve a purpose.
Don Vail has no use for it anymore.
Isolation keeps your ideas pure. Isolation will drive you crazy.
At the end of a quiet, winding country road in Dunnville, Ontario—the kind shared with foxes, windmills, and little else—sits Mechanical Noise Studio. It is the picture of isolation.
This studio belongs to me, Mitch Bowden. My band is called Don Vail. For a decade, Don Vail, Mechanical Noise, and I have blurred into a synonymous thing.
In the spring of 2017, Don Vail received a fortuitous invitation. 2016’s Fades LP was promising enough to secure a stay at Grouse Lodge Studios in Ireland. But there was a catch—the window was not open indefinitely. There was only a matter of weeks to turn scattered shards of maybes into actual songs.
I enlisted the help of longtime drummer Victor Malang, as well as guitarist Matthew Fleming and keyboardist/vocalist Kori Pop.
Stand Of Tide—my new album that will be released on May 31st—wasn’t finished in Ireland.
I returned to Mechanical Noise to complete the sessions, but the overseas journey had turned these songs into something vital. Now the some day when shit would get done was today.
“On The Wire” is the first single we’re sharing off of Stand Of Tide.