Hold up to the Fire, Echo Nebraska’s sophomore effort, sees the Vancouver folk-rock outfit expand on their reputation of combining soul-strung acoustic songs with melodic pop sensibilities. They were determined to write music that was universally accessible and affirming, focusing on introspective themes of love, loss and perseverance.
The mission to spread positivity to a wider audience stems from heartbreak within the band itself. In September 2016, bassist and founding member, Gunn Park passed away after a battle with cancer. Even though this was a difficult time for the band, they focused on channeling this loss in a positive direction. This is apparent in the album’s first single ‘Follow Me’. As songwriter Devan Christodoulou puts it, “The song is all about life and how it’s okay to rely on each other to get us through the tough times.”
Devan, Gunn and multi-instrumentalist Andy Schichter started Echo Nebraska in the fall of 2014, with the release of a music video for ‘Hey, Allison’. Within a week of the video premiering, CBC Music added the video to their list of Best New Music Videos. Their debut EP, Send the Ships, would eventually chart across several campus stations, reaching a high of #3 on CJSF.
The band spent the next couple of years touring Send the Ships across Canada, with drummer Mike Lauder, violinist Carly Frey and bassist Dan Ponich. After showcasing at BreakOut West 2016 in Regina, SK and CMW 2017 in Toronto, ON, Echo Nebraska turned their attention to writing the songs that would eventually make up the new record. The title track, ‘Hold up to the Fire’ was written in honour of Park, weeks after his passing. Though Park never got to perform on Hold up to the Fire, his presence is felt throughout the record.
Echo Nebraska returned to the studio this past winter with producer Jeff Dawson (Daniel Powter, Holly McNarland, The Dudes), who helped hone in on the direction the band was taking with their new collection of songs. Colin Stewart (Dan Mangan, Yukon Blonde, New Pornographers) was brought on to mix the album.
Ultimately, despite the loss of their friend and bandmate, Echo Nebraska pushed their musical direction forward on Hold up to the Fire, resonant with messages of hope, love, and the power of human relationships.