Doctor Baker to Release New Album “Trespassers” on September 9th
“Dark songs that sound happy” is an apt description for the tracks on Trespassers, the new album by Albany band Doctor Baker out on Sept. 9. Legendary producer Don Fury (Quicksand, Helmet, GG Allin, Agnostic Front) recorded, mixed, mastered and engineered the album at his Don Fury Studios in Troy.
The album’s first single, “Exhausted,” rides that line between darkness and light, joy and pathos. “I spent six years in Missouri while I was in grad school getting my Ph.D. in St. Louis. Back then, Uncle Tupelo used to play the basement in Cicero’s on the regular. Those were pretty good years, despite what the song might suggest,” says guitarist and vocalist Ed Schwarzschild.
Doctor Baker originally started as an acoustic duo featuring singer-songwriter Ed Schwarzschild and guitarist Iggy Calabria, two wayward Philadelphians who met in Albany. Schwarzschild is an award-winning short story writer and novelist (In Security, The Family Diamond, and Responsible Men) and a professor of creative writing at the University of Albany. He was the “doctor” of the group. Calabria, a trained jazz musician who owned a gourmet scratch bakery, was the “baker.” The duo then added singer-songwriter Chris Gockley on bass and Danny Goodwin, an artist and University of Albany professor of fine arts, on drums.
Schwarzschild brings a literary sensibility to the evocative songs on Trespassers, which were written during the pandemic. “The album is like a story collection, but they’re stories that fit in with what’s going on in the world at the moment,” he says. “The songs on the album acknowledge that there are some real problems, but we’re trying to stay lit up, we’re still trying to love, still trying to figure out what love is, still trying to maintain relationships with the people we’re close to.”
The album title stems from a trip by Gockley and Schwarzschild to see a performance by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. “Driving back to Albany after an awesome show, we got a little turned around,” says Schwarzschild. “We found ourselves in a desolate spot where there were a lot of threatening ‘NO TRESPASSING’ signs. We weren’t trespassing, we just got lost. But in these dark times, it’s easy to feel divided and separate from so many people. Trespassers says, ‘Hey we’re all trespassers now, let’s try to do things together, see each other clearly, see ourselves clearly.”
Legendary producer Don Fury pushed the band to create a sound that honored their diverse influences while also being entirely their own. The album’s songs range from the heavy distortion of the title track to more meditative rockers like “Holiday Lights.” There’s even room for Guthrie-esque ballads like “Asylum” and bossa nova-inflected songs about our pending climate catastrophe like “Us People.” Backing vocals from Zan Strumfeld (Zan and the Winter Folk) and Melissa Thorne (Fol Chen) give Schwarzschild’s songs new layers and depth.
Schwarzschild was recently named a Literary Legend by the Friends and Foundation of Albany Public Library for his novels but has been finding great joy and fulfillment from songwriting. “There’s something so liberating about writing songs, maybe because I didn’t go to school for it. I didn’t invest years of my life in training to play guitar. It’s just something I do; it just gives me joy.”
“It’s possible that the apocalyptic love song will become a new genre—here’s an offering from the Albany-based group Doctor Baker.”Bill McKibben, the New Yorker
The band will celebrate Trespassers with two release parties – one at The Linda on September 10th, and the other at Albany Distilling Company on September 23. Be sure to check them out, both live and on record.