Miles Baltrusaitis surprised his family in friends back in the summer last year when he picked up his guitar and after an intense flurry of songwriting, poured out nine deeply personal songs. Spurred on by a broken heart and the upturn of his comfortable suburban life, the genesis of ‘Red Ghost’ occurred.
He then by chance ran into drummer Matt Stankiewicz, with whom he had in the past played college football, as well as his keyboardist brother, Dan. The Stankiewicz’s neo soul band, My Blue Valentine, had split up, and the brothers were at a loose end. Agreeing to launch the band as ‘Miles Maxwell’, after Miles’ first and middle names, they then met Steve Kingwell through a mutual friend, himself a veteran of various suburban cover bands in Chicago. The line up was complete.
The band recorded all the tracks in Miles’ home studio, with mixing performed by Sean O’Keefe, who’s produced Fall Out Boy, and Plain White Ts, no less.
The band debuted their music at Silvie’s Lounge, Chicago, and mere months later, in September this year, they released the blues and country infused album, ‘Red Ghost’.
Miles Maxwell take their inspiration from a wide array of sources, including pop folk legends such as Steve Goodman, and Harry Chapin, alt-country Uncle Tupelo, rock, country and folk singer-songwriter Steve Earle, and Steely Dan’s jazz rock. Miles had studied jazz guitar while a student at Williams College, and also consumed the Chicago Blues, as well as painstakingly learning American Primitive fingerstyle guitar. He graduated from the Williams College Singer Songwriter programme, renowned for producing high quality artists.
Matt and Dan’s musical CV is no less stellar: their father was a music teacher in Western Massachusetts, and he encouraged his sons to pursue music in their education. Matt studied percussion at Williams College, while Dan shared their father’s love of vintage electronic pianos.
The nine tracks on ‘Red Ghost’ range from heartfelt and sad to fun and witty; their tales from Miles’ life and are deeply personal. Genres range from country-rock to pop, to blues tinged rock ballads, and include titles as enticing as the songs themselves, such as ‘Terrible Song’ (which isn’t terrible at all!), and ‘She Says (Whiskey Down At 4am)’.
Speaking about recording the album, Miles said,
“I love the dynamic we have where I can bring in a crazy idea, riff, lyric or story to Matt and Dan and they instinctively know how to give shape and structure. They’ll improve on it with extended vocal harmonies, or use their deep understanding of tempo and change the rhythm scheme to make it just right. Then we put Steve on top of that and justify’ve got something pretty amazing.”