Avalanche City Biography
Last updated: 05/15/2012
Avalanche City is the brainchild of Dave Baxter, a musician whose background stretches across many genres and influences, culminating in a sound that is an impressive and eclectic range of various instruments, melodies and harmonies. The depth and perspective create a dynamic atmosphere that is rich and raw all at once. The epicentre of Avalanche City is Baxter himself, who writes, conceives, produces, records and plays every instrument on this debut album 'Our New Life Above The Ground'.
Within the historical walls of a lone abandoned small country hall north of Auckland - 'Our New Life Above The Ground' materialized and was recorded strictly within the confines of a guerilla DIY approach inspired by The Rocket Summer's first recording. Baxter's convictions remain steadfast as he recounts that... "Ever since I heard that story (of how The Rocket Summer recorded) I absolutely wanted to create and record an album where I produced everything, played everything, recorded everything" and today the anticipated result is "Our New Life..." from beginning to end. A multi-instrumentalist who was coursed at the early age of nine, Baxter picked up the guitar and begun re-arranging classic school sing-along's like "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" into more expressive original works. In high school, Baxter started a hardcore band, One Must Fall, which (along with Baxter's subsequent band, The Chase) made a sizable impression on the local underground hardcore scene, opening for the likes of Hatebreed, Parkway Drive and Sick Of It All. Meanwhile, Baxter worked at a recording studio, writing music for TV documentaries, short films and adverts. In late 2009, however, he decided to explore new musical avenues. He left his music-writing job and began recording bands in his own studio. He taught guitar, and started learning viola. He was dying to record an album on which he did everything himself - writing and performing all the music, recording, and producing. As he assiduously practiced vocal exercises and scales, singing in private whenever he could, Baxter began to write songs, experimenting with vocal melodies and lyrics for the first time in his life. Inspiration came in the form of guitar and bass riffs, vocal melodies, and even mental images and narratives for which he composed a soundtrack of sorts. Eventually, he was persuaded to play his songs to various close friends, and the positive feedback he received was instrumental to the birth of Avalanche City. Taking his band name from the title of a song he'd co-written some years earlier, Baxter played some solo acoustic shows, touring with Bradley Hathaway and The Paper Kites, and then decided to record an album. He'd long believed that the old community halls that dot the New Zealand countryside would make great recording spaces, with their wooden structures, spacious interiors and high ceilings. So he holed up in Kourawhero Hall just of outside Auckland, and with only the cows and the milk trucks as company, he recorded the music for Our New Life Above The Ground within a week.
He captured each instrument, experimenting with different sonic techniques getting it all onto tape. A raw style filled with unique nuances warmed by the scope of the country hall naturally took shape, taking pages from the songbooks of some of the greats - Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Ben Gibbard to name a few. The instinctual and rugged storytelling ability is apparent and strikes more than a chord in the listener through rich narratives and the evocation of impressive imagery. Speaking of the creative process, Baxter recounts - "A song for me can start from anything. Sometimes I'll hear someone say a word and that will start the process, other times, it's an image that I focus on" Our New Life Above The Ground was initially available for free download from the Avalanche City website. "I just wanted people to have it," Baxter explains. "I'd worked so hard making this album and if I'd sold it, it would have only reached a few hundred people. I just cared so much more about people having it, listening to it, sharing it with their friends and hopefully identifying with the songs." He wasn't sure what to expect, but the response was overwhelming, and the album quickly reached near-platinum status from free downloads alone, despite a lack of major radio support. Then an executive for major local TV station TV2 heard 'Love, Love, Love' playing in a store and decided to use it for the station promos. The song shot to number one on the New Zealand singles chart, becoming the fastest selling debut #1 for a NZ group in the digital era, stamping itself all over the nation's airwaves and swiftly surpassing platinum status. Subsequently released through more conventional channels, Our New Life Above The Ground debuted at #1 on the iTunes album chart, reached #4 on the national album chart and climbed to gold status and beyond. The immediate future for Avalanche City holds plenty of promise - the promise of time on the road, for which Baxter has put together a stellar band; the promise of success as Our New Life Above The Ground continues to acquire fans around the world; and perhaps most importantly of all, the promise of a musical path that Dave Baxter can explore to his heart's content. Although Avalanche City is a solo project, live performances will feature various musicians and instruments from mandolin, ukulele, glockenspiel, to accordion - a full rendition of the album and it's magic... "One thing I want for Avalanche City is for it to constantly push musical boundaries. These guys are so talented at what they do and are just great at interpreting the album and putting their own flavor into it. " Avalanche City is the epitome of lo-fi pop perfection: delicately woven chords wrapped around honest words of dedication that are guaranteed to warm the heart of the true music fan. David Baxter is an artist who so passionately felt the need to create his own music, he dedicated the entire past year to slowly learning how to sing, play, record and perform - the result being a unique perspective and a tender voice just ripe for the moment.