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Grace Potter & The Nocturnals    

American Rock Band

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals self-made 2005 debut album, Nothing but the Water revealed a musically sophisticated young band inspired by the music of the late 60s/early 70s and fronted by a then-21-year-old dynamo whose nuanced singing, organ playing and songwriting belied her age. The follow-up, 2007s This Is Somewhere, confirmed that the band had no interest in following trends but was instead in pursuit of timeless expression as it forged its identity. On 2010s self-titled third album, GPN, toughened by a half decade of nonstop roadwork, flexed their rock n roll muscles and confirmed that they were in it for the long haul.

Now, seven years after hitting the radar, GPN take an exponential leap with the widescreen opus The Lion The Beast The Beat (Hollywood, June 12, 2012). With this musically combustible and conceptually dazzling work, the Vermont-based band forcefully takes its place alongside the best of its peers while building on the rich legacy of its inspirations. During this a la carte age, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals have boldly pushed against the current, making a bona fide album that demands to be heard in its entirety . . . not that its 11 songs dont utterly beguile on their own. This album is really a different animal than our previous recordsno pun intended, says Potter.

I think what people love about us is the energy we generate playing together and feeding off each other, says guitarist Scott Tournet. Theres a lot of drive in our band, and we managed to capture that on this record. We love the music that we cut our teeth on and itll always be part of us, but weve reached the point where were consciously trying to push things forward.

The Lion The Beast The Beat was produced by Potter and veteran producer Jim Scott (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Wilco, the Tedeschi Trucks Band). Adding to the firepower of the project is Dan Auerbach who produced and co-wrote the track Loneliest Soul and also produced and co-wrote the bands first single Never Go Back, and Runaway, both of which were co-produced by Scott. David Campbell (Beck, My Morning Jacket, Jackson Browne) arranged and conducted the strings on the album. The LP was mixed by fellow Vermonter and Grammy award winner Rich Costey (Foo Fighters, TV on the Radio, Bruce Springsteens Wrecking Ball). Alongside the bands original guitarist/songwriter Scott Tournet, drummer/band co-founder Matt Burr, guitarist Benny Yurco (who joined in 2009), Potter commenced recording the album in October, 2011. They later invited multi-instrumentalist Michael Libramento (from Floating Action) to join them on the sessions.

The band tracked the majority of the record live off the floor at PLYRZ, Scotts studio in Santa Clarita, 30 miles northeast of L.A. When I first met Jim, I knew I wanted to make this record with him, says Grace. He totally gets us. He brought the perfect balance of sonic integrity and laid-back finesse. The feeling is mutual. Grace is a rock n roll superhero, says Scott. She can really bring it. Shes full of ideas, she never misses a note and the band is badass.

Last November, while Potter was in Nashville for the CMA Awards, she and Auerbach got together in his studio. It was a concentrated environment, Grace says of the breakneck Nashville sessions. Dan and I were writing lyrics together, singing melodies and trading off ideas, while Benny, Scott and Matt were working up the tracks with us. I love the way Dans mind works, because its so out there, but he balanced it really well by stepping back and behaving like a producer/writer. At the end of the three days, they had the spines of Never Go Back (the throbbing first single) and Runaway, while nailing the madcap Loneliest Soul.

In late November, as the song list continued expanding, I felt the priorities starting to shift, Grace recalls. I began to look at the whole project through new eyes. I realized then that making this record wasnt about just putting a bunch of great songs together; it needed to be a cohesive piece of work with connections between the songs.

Not long after the band returned to Scotts studio, Potter surprised everyone by abruptly calling the project to a halt, despite the fact that the band was playing better than ever, Scott was capturing the performances in all their eruptive immediacy and the record company was excited by the quality of the tracks that were being delivered. Potter, for whom everything musical had always come so easily, had hit the wall for the first time in her life as an artist.

Potters soul journey unlocked the thematic riddle, yielding, among other things, a pair of new linchpin songs in Timekeeper and The Divide, while also completing the title track, The Lion The Beast The Beat. With these key pieces in place, the tracks theyd cut prior to the break, including the stomping rocker Keepsake, the yearning Parachute Heart and the three Auerbach collaborations, now snapped right into place, conceptually and dynamically.

Less a concept album than a panoramic sonic terrain across which various thematic vectors collide and combine, The Lion The Beast The Beat plays on the duality of human naturethe fact that we all have our demons and we all have the ability to be good. Grace explains. More than ever, I think outside perception affects how we view ourselves I started thinking about these archetypes: everyone perceives a lion as a powerful, glorious animal and a beast as a flawed, scary, unpleasant creaturebut thats just on the outside. You only have to read a few childrens fables to see those themes: the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz, the Beast from Beauty and the Beast Im fascinated by the idea that we all hold such a broad spectrum of impulses and how we choose to act on them makes us who we are.

The Lion The Beast The Beat represents a rite of passage for a band that is knocking on the door of greatness.

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