On The Road Again: Catching Up With Southeast Engine

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For some Athens County residents, the name of Southeast Engine's new EP will conjure up images of Route 50 and the former Big Chimney Bakery. For everyone else, it's simply another in a long line of outstanding recordings from the Athens-based band.

Since its release on July 31, the four-song EP Canaanville has already received national attention, including a mention in the AV Club's Must-Hear Rundown.

The EP, which was recorded and co-produced by 3 Elliott Studio's Josh Antonuccio, is a companion piece to the band's previous LP, Canary, sharing that album's theme of living in Southeast Ohio during the Great Depression.

However, as singer-songwriter Adam Remnant points out, the Canaanville songs aren't merely outtakes or leftovers.

"These songs were written at the same time as the Canary tunes," he said. "A couple of them weren't finished at the time of recording. When we came up with the idea to record the EP, I went back to those songs and worked on them until they came together. 'Old Oak Tree' was one of those which really worked well and is now a live staple for the band."

The EP is part of a recent one-two punch, with a Daytrotter session finally making its way online just days before Canaanville's release.

"The Daytrotter session actually took place over a year ago, shortly after we completed Canary," said Remnant. "It sounds better than I remember. I really like how 'Worried Man Blues' came out, and it's great to have a recording of 'Stranded in the Heartland' how we are doing it now."

Produced by the Rock Island, Ill., recording studio Horseshack, the website daytrotter.com has made a name for itself by recording thousands of songs by touring indie bands.

"It's a cool experience," said Remnant. "You record everything live, there's no overdubs and it's mixed to stereo tape during the recording, so there's no mixing or post-editing to hide any mistakes. It's all about getting a take that's got a good vibe."

From all accounts, there has been an abundant supply of good vibes on the band's current tour of the Midwest and West Coast. This past weekend, the band performed at the Portland, Ore., indie-roots music festival Pickathon, sharing the stage with such acts as Neko Case, Blitzen Trapper and Cass McCombs.

"Pickathon is a lot like the Nelsonville Music Festival in terms of vibe and the types of artists they attract," said Remnant. "We felt honored to be a part of it."

The band, which also includes drummer Leo DeLuca, bassist Jesse Remnant and multi-instrumentalist Billy Matheny, has recently traveled from St. Louis through the Rocky Mountains and up the West Coast. Tonight they will play in Seattle before moving on to dates in Fargo and Minneapolis, before winding up in Chicago.

"The tour has been so much fun, one of the best tours we've had," said Remnant. "We just had one of my favorite shows of all time in L.A., and got to hang out with my brother Joseph who lives there."

By the time all is said and done, Southeast Engine will have released a record, appeared on an influential music site and performed 13 dates in nine states, all in the space of a couple weeks. Remnant is matter-of-fact about the whole thing.

"There's been lots of driving, but the shows have been worth it," he said.

For more information about Southeast Engine tour dates and the Canaanville EP, visit www.southeastengine.com.