You might recognize the name Aaron Skiles from the Bay Area based band, Bourbon Therapy. The indie rock/alt-country band was fronted by Skiles and his wife Rebecca and released 1 full album, two EPs and 12 singles before calling it quits earlier this year. “Nobody’s fault,” reassures Skiles. “We couldn’t play any concerts so two members left town to go to another city. I doubled down on my writing and actually did five Bourbon Therapy singles and released in 2021. As I wrote a lot I realized I had material I really liked but didn’t fit Bourbon Therapy . Some of these songs sounded more like Social Distortion or Weezer rather than mellow ballads, so I figured they weren’t BT songs, but Aaron Skiles songs.

Skiles reached out to fellow musician and friend, Matt Patton, to co-write most of the album with him. “Matt is an amazing musician and an amazing lyricist. For the most part, he helped me make my lyrics more impactful, more memorable, and just plain better. But he also helped with the arrangements, on “Before You Go” and also with “On My Own”. And he was amazing as a vocal coach, pushing me to find the emotion in every song and bring it to life. I’ve never been more proud of my vocal performance on another project and I owe it to the way Matt pushed me to get the most out of my vocals. Of the eight songs on the album, Matt Patton co-wrote six. “It all started with my basic demos, then Matt and I were emailing and making changes.”

Skiles claims Patton was the reason fire wreckage came first. “In 2016 I traveled to Birmingham, AL to visit a former roommate at West Point and to catch a Truckers show at the Lyric Theater. I’m a huge fan and my boyfriend spoiled me as we pushed up to the front of the stage. After the show we headed to a club called ‘The Nick’ and 30 minutes later Matt Patton walked in. Not being shy I introduced myself and finished by telling him about Bourbon Therapy and we exchanged emails and a week later he wrote to tell me that he had dug our stuff and that if I ever wanted to record in his studio I should contact him Four years later, everything went perfectly and we finally made it!”

Skiles left Oakland and headed to Water Valley, MS to record at Patton’s studio, Dial Back Sound. “It’s the first album that I’ve personally recorded guitar on. I’m a bassist and pianist and that’s what I play on the music of Bourbon Therapy. But when Matt Patton (bass) and Jay Gonzalez (piano ), both from Drive-By Truckers, offered me to play on my solo album, I realized I’d better let them! I worked hard to get to grips with rhythm guitar and I’m happy with the results.

“Most of the songs were written before they were recorded right at the start of the pandemic,” says Skiles. “Although ‘Quarandream’ was literally written just before I jumped on the plane. I was packing for the flight and decided to plug in my guitar one more time. I suddenly found this instrumental jam simple and realized that it suited ‘Come With Me’ perfectly. Just like that, I had decided on songs #1 and #2 for the album! I sent a quick voicemail to Matt with the new song. When he picked me up at the Memphis airport, we talked about it and he had some ideas to give it even more power. Once we brought in Taylor Hollingsworth to lay down lead guitar on this track, we ended up with a killer instrumental opener in an almost Dick Dale vein.

Following “Come With Me,” the laid-back California-tinged song, “A Triumph of Three Chords,” with piano work by Jay Gonzalez to glue the song and Hollingsworth’s guitar solo into the outro, which Skiles describes as a “quick sweetness”. There are also the punk-influenced songs, “Sliver” and “On My Own”. “I usually write longer tracks for Bourbon Therapy, loaded with orchestral parts and multi-layered harmonies in outros that sound like separate songs. But Wreckage From The Fire is a collection of tight, pop-influenced rockers that get the point across in about 3 minutes.

“Before You Go” has the group’s most powerful story song. As a senior at West Point (the United States Military Academy), Skiles had a friend who jumped out of their dormitory by suicide just before graduation. “What has eaten at me all these years is that I heard he was thinking about it and I did nothing to stop him. I was 21, young and stupid. I actually tried to write about it for over 10 years but never got through before the pandemic when i took the song to the studio i told the story which helped us to get the right sound. But when I went to record the vocals, I broke down crying. Matt ran into the recording room and I apologized. He encouraged me to use the perspective of more than 20 years to tell my friend what I would say to him now – as a man who has gained wisdom and experience. Using this advice, I think the song has the most authentic and charged voice of emotion from the album.

Bronson Tew is Patton’s partner at Dial Back Sound and engineered the album, as well as playing drums, lending vocals and playing lead guitar on one song. “Bronson and I became quite close during this recording session. We both lived in the efficiency of the studio and recorded all day, then stayed most of the night drinking beers, talking about music, songwriting and life. One night, after everyone had left, he and I sat down to try and come up with a lead guitar part for “On My Own”. After a while, Bronson was came up with this super cool counter-melody part, full of comments and shoutouts that we laid down, intending to show Taylor the next day so he could record the actual version. he looked at Bronson and said, “What’s the point of me doing this again, it’s awesome like that! And so the Bronson take was the main part we used for the song.”

fire wreckage is clearly different in tone and mood from the music Skiles made with Bourbon Therapy. “This album is all about me – and it’s rough around the edges, a bit raw and definitely punchy. Lyrically, this album is more introspective and written almost entirely in first person, whereas BT’s music often tells stories other people’s stories. Music is a way for me to explain your place in the world, how you see things as they are and how you would like them to be. My goal is to write a song that tells something something important to the listener, either through the lyrics or the instrumentation, or ideally both. I write songs that mean something to me and that I would love to listen to. If someone other likes them too, so it’s just gravy on top as far as I’m concerned.

fire wreckage Releases on Friday, April 22, 2022