Watch ex-Black Flag singer Ron Reyes & psychedelic bluegrass trio Water Tower’s new video
Water Tower are not your average bluegrass band. Frontman/founder Kenny Feinstein released a bluegrass tribute to My Bloody Valentine's Loveless in 2013, and Water Tower are as influenced by traditional bluegrass as they are by punk and psychedelia. Think something between New Riders of the Purple Sage and the Meat Puppets, but with a modern twist.
Earlier this year, the trio -- rounded out by Pat Norris (bass) and Harry Salek (drums, backing vocals) -- released their new album Fly Around, which was co-produced by Ariel Pink and former Germs/Exterminators/45 Grave drummer Don Bolles. Both Ariel and Don also perform on the album, and it's got guest vocals by Jealous Again and What The... era Black Flag vocalist Ron Reyes, former Old Crow Medicine Show member Willie Watson, and Bullets and Octane's Gene Louis. That's one hell of a team, and when you listen to the highly enjoyable Fly Around, you'll see why so many cool, talented people wanted to work with them.
"This ain’t your Grandpa’s Bluegrass," said Don Bolles, who also referred to Kenny Feinstein as an "amazing musical prodigy." "Well, it is, in a way, but really it’s totally its own unique thing, as you will probably notice when you listen to it. Hope you dig it as much as we do!"
Don also said, "It’s a concept album (what a concept!), so no shuffling the songs around in the iTunes! It’s kinda meant to be listened to as an entire thing, in sequence, at least once. The album features some super traditional Bluegrass / Old Time sounds, along with some other elements - rock, psychedelia, pop, punk, and even a semi ambient synth & SFX interlude - that definitely push some boundaries, to say the least. It seems to work, tho, despite - or maybe because of - all the seemingly disparate styles and influences."
As for how hardcore legends like Don and Ron got involved, Kenny tells us:
The first song that I ever wrote when I was 15 was directly inspired by the way that Ron sang on early Black Flag.
Don Bolles was the original inspiration for me to move to Los Angeles, when we were having a conversation about the record, I asked him why he thought I should move to LA, he simply replied “it’s better.“ (I was living in Portland, OR.)
Don has always talked about how rad Ron is.
I shot Ron a message telling him about the project we were creating, and that Don and I would be honored if he was interested in being involved.
Ron was excited.
I asked him to sing the last track on the record.
Ron said this was his first time ever attempting to “sing” on a recording.
The honest truth is I just wanted my hero to sing my song, so I facilitated a chance meeting between the two.
The fruits of Kenny's labors are closing track "Anthem," which features him and Ron Reyes singing together, and they sound great! It's definitely a bluegrass song, but it's got the punk edge you'd expect from a song with Ron Reyes, and a little of those psychedelic synths Don Bolles was talking about. We're premiering the song's new Rodd Perry-created video, a black-and-white clip that features animated depictions of Ron Reyes and Water Tower... and gets pretty trippy. Watch it and stream the full album below.
In other news, Kenny Feinstein worked on the upcoming Netflix show Country-ish, which was recently delayed.