Whimsical Releases Third Album 'Remembers The Early Days'
For fans of Whimsical, a shoegaze/dream pop band that has been around since the summer of 1999 and released two successful albums, the good news is a third album is coming your way Nov. 5, 2019.
“Bright Smiles, Broken Hearts” will be released in digital and CD formats, and—fingers crossed— vinyl, if presale orders reach their goal. Vinyl lovers take note, order your copy now or forever lose the opportunity to have a real record. Go Here by Oct. 28. If the minimum is not met, there will be no vinyl.
Whimsical: the story
I recently talked to Krissy Vanderwoude, vocals, and Neil Burkdoll, guitar/music about how the band got started and where they are today.
Although Vanderwoude and Burkdoll grew up in the same town (St. John, Ind.) and went to the same middle school, it wasn’t until high school that they became friends. “I was a huge fan of Neil’s first band Mystified Thinking. It was comprised of all my friends,” says Vanderwoude.
One day in 1995, Vanderwoude went over to Andy Muntean’s house, who was the drummer for Mystified Thinking, where they were working on what would be the band’s last recording.
“I remember showing up in Andy’s basement and Neil says, ‘Hey, do you want to put some guest vocals on this song?’” says Vanderwoude.
“So with no preparation or practice, I recorded these vocals. And that was the first time I was ever recorded singing.”
The band broke up when everyone graduated from high school and went their separate ways. Meanwhile, Burkdoll decided he wanted to start a new band that was the opposite of the music he had been writing, which centered mostly about depression and sadness.
“Whereas my previous band came from a darker side, Whimsical was supposed to be the lighter, more pop side,” says Burkdoll. “And my thinking was, ‘Krissy can sing and I will play guitar.’”
So over the next few years and after a few false starts, where lineups changed as he tried to find the right musicians, in the summer of 1999, the guitarist finally landed on the right combination. That ended up being Tim Fogle on drums and Joe Santelik on bass, and they were finally ready to record.
The last unknown element to Whimsical’s birth was whether Vanderwoude could write melodies and lyrics to Burkdoll’s songs.
“I had been writing songs for years,” he notes, “but Krissy had absolutely no experience. There was no guarantee that she could do this, and I couldn’t write lyrics to save my life.”
But destiny fulfilled her role, because as it turned out, despite her lack of training and experience, Vanderwoude took to the task like a duck takes to water. “She was immediately able to write melodies and lyrics that I thought were great,” says Burkdoll.
To this day, Vanderwoude does not know how she was able to do what she did back then and still does today.
“It perplexes even me,” she laughs. “Remembering back to this time, I can’t believe I was even confident enough to try. I had zero background. If you showed me a sheet of music and asked me to read or sing it, I would not have a clue.”
“Even today, I don’t have a technical approach” she continues. “I’m very grateful this is so natural for me, because I don’t know where it comes from. I guess it’s the same with anyone who wants to write a song. You hear a melody and try it. I’m just grateful Neil heard something in that first Mystified Thinking song to take a gamble on me,” she says.
And so the band released its first 11-song album “Setting Suns are Semi-Circles” on Oct. 1, 2000 through Seraph Records.
The second album, “Sleep To Dream” did not come out until 17 years later and even then, destiny once again played a role. From 2000 to 2005, the band was playing regularly at least once a month in the Chicago area. Although Whimsical opened for bigger bands, the audience was not growing.
“It turned into a job,” says Burkdoll. “It didn’t seem like anything was happening for us. We started thinking ‘Why are we doing this?’” Another factor for him was being pulled in other directions. “I’d always been in two or three bands simultaneously, and the other bands were more fun at that time.”
Vanderwoude also was now married and pregnant with her first child, and her priorities were changing as well. So despite writing and recording 90% of the album, the duo decided to take a break at the end of February 2005.
“We just needed to take a step away, because our hearts were not in it,” she explains.
Fast forward to 2015 where Burkdoll was now living in Carpinteria, Calif. with a wife and two kids, and Vanderwoude was in Griffith, Ind. with her two kids. One day, Burkdoll is rummaging through some old boxes in the garage and what does he find? The hard drive with all the Sleep To Dream songs on it.
Destiny came into play again when Wyatt Parkins, founder of Saint Marie Records, who had already agreed to release Sleep to Dream, asked if Whimsical still wanted to do the album.
“So that was the catalyst,” says Burkdoll. “Krissy and I only had to finish that last 10%. Unfortunately, I could not access the files. I ended up having to pay $500 to have a computer IT guy extract them and upload to a new hard drive. But sure enough, they were all in there. I hadn’t heard any of those songs in more than 10 years.”
And so “Sleep To Dream” was released in February 2017 on Saint Marie Records. It featured Andy Muntean on drums and Brian Booher on bass and Mark Milliron on guitar.
The decision to work on a third album did not come without its challenges for the musical duo. For one, while Burkdoll had been in other bands that released albums since 2005, he had not written any Whimsical music. “I finally wrote ‘Last Dance,’ which was me trying to see if I could even write this style of music anymore,” he says.
The second challenge was the space between them. “We lived nowhere near each other,” notes Vanderwoude. “And, I had no clue how to record. So Neil helped me set up a home studio to record my vocals. I would not have been able to do anything musical without his help.”
As a way to practice learning how to record herself and to get used to working with one another again, they decided to record a series of cover tunes as well as some older songs that had never made it onto any album. This collection came about as “Brought To Light,” which released in May 2016. It included covers of Slowdive, Siouxie & The Banshees, Lycia, the Lilys and even Tommy James & The Shondells.
“We were doing a ton of cover songs for fun and releasing them one at a time,” explains Vanderwoude. “It was a way to get me set up to record at home, and have Neil help me perfect the process,” says Vanderwoude.
Burkdoll estimates he finished the last song for the third album sometime around Christmas of 2018. Although Vanderwoude had been recording vocals along the way, this meant that she had to finish the album by spring of 2019, all the while continuing to write with her other band The Churchhill Garden.
Krissy has done several collaborations in the past, by singing with bands such as Seasurfer, Fir Cone Children, Xeresa, Echolust, The City Gates and Black Swan Lane, but she decided to put any additional collaborations on the backburner, in order to fully focus on writing and recording for Whimsical.
The album mastering, done by Andrew Rose of Pristine Audio, Saint-Méard-de-Gurçon, France, was finished in April 2019. Since then, the pair has been working on everything it requires to self-release an album.
The video for the first single, “I Always Dream of You” was released on Monday, September 30 along with streaming-only versions on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
This will be followed by a remix of the song by The Daysleepers, which will be premiered on DKFM on Friday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. Eastern. Second single, “Earth Angel,” will come out before the official record release on Nov. 5, and then two more singles after that.
Where to listen and buy
For a variety of reasons, the decision was made to self-release rather than go through Saint Marie again. And while the digital and CDs are a sure thing, the expense of having vinyl pressed required going down the crowdfunding route.
Qrates was chosen as the vendor, and if pre-sale orders reach the quota by Oct. 28, the record will be manufactured. Fans should expect to wait at least two to three months before they will have a copy in their hands, but can be enjoying the digital music in the meantime.
For new fans not familiar with Whimsical’s sound, you can hear a 5-minute preview of the nine songs by visiting the vinyl preorder at the link above or by going to this link to listen to the pre-release video on YouTube.
To preorder the digital or CD versions, go to Bandcamp. While there, you can also check out all their earlier releases.
Even Slowdive is waiting for the album’s release (see tweet above) :-)
You can connect with Whimsical at: