The Tower and The Fool frontman (and former Therefore I Am vocalist) Alex Correia spoke to us in his first interview since the band signed with Run For Cover Records to talk about the band's past, present and future.
Tell me how The Tower and The Fool came to be.
Well, I think it was a series of a few different things that sort of collided at one time. A little more than a year ago, I was living in Boston, MA and playing in a band called Therefore I Am. I had been living up there with a girl I was dating at the time, and when that relationship ended I found myself knocking on my friend Mike Poorman's door with a suitcase in my hand, asking if I could move into a small walk-in closet in his house. Lucky for me, he let me move in and found myself reconnecting with a lot of friends in the Providence area, one being Chris Rosenquest. I had lived with Chris for about a year back when TIA recorded The Sound of Human Lives. Funny enough, Chris is the person talking and ranting on the first track of that record. Anyway, Chris and I had always talked about writing music together. I'd seen a lot of his shows in Providence; he's a real talented folk singer-songwriter who I had always admired. So, at some point through all the haze of this break up I was going through, and a break up Chris ended up going through, we started hanging out more and more. TIA ended up calling it quits about 6 months after I started living in Providence again, and right around that time Chris and I had found an apartment on the west side of Providence together. I was especially stoked I didn't have to sleep in a closet anymore! Once the two of us were hanging out and living together, we just sort of started working on music more and more. One day on a trip to the dollar store I think I said, "Hey, let's call this project The Tower and The Fool," which was based on the idea of the fool tarot card coming across the tower card - which is a representation of a drastic and uncontrollable change in someone's life; something Chris and I were coping with at the time. And it was also kind of funny that Chris is over six feet tall and I'm, well... you get it. So we wrote about 6 songs together and called our friend Mike and some other friends we'd known who played music, like Chris Capaldi, Zac Clark and John Tucker... and then The Tower and The Fool EP was born.
How did Mike from Hot Rod Circuit get involved?
I had known Mike since my days in TIA, and like I had mentioned before, because I was living with him the entire time this project was forming. So when it came time for us to record, Mike was the person to do it. Chris and I had already been making a lot of demos, recording in a lot of different environments, like bridges in downtown providence and the bus tunnel that runs under RISD and Brown University. One night we were almost hit by a bus... Anyway, Mike had heard these and seemed to really dig them, so when we came to the studio to track and asked him to play drums, he didn't really seem to even think twice. I think we practiced as a band maybe 2 or 3 times before tracking that record. It all sort of fell into place naturally, which was a great feeling. Now, a year later, Poorman ended up moving in with Rosenquest and I. We're a big, happy, dysfunctional family. It's pretty rad.
You have officially signed with Run For Cover Records. How did the deal come about?
I think Jeff at Run For Cover had heard the early demos I was doing with Chris sometime last year and had always sort shown a little interest in it. We played a show in Boston a few months back, and Jeff came to check it out. I think after he saw Goldrush (Chris Capaldi) play guitar with a bandana on, he seemed even more interested. For me, I've always loved the music Jeff puts out - Tigers Jaw, Transit, Man Overboard, etc. - so when it came time to look forward and try and find someone to get behind the project, Jeff seemed like the perfect fit for us. All us dudes hung out one night and talked about what we thought was a good plan, and well, that's it really.
You have a new EP and an LP coming later this year. What can we expect from those? Will they differ from your debut EP?
Yeah, we'll be releasing a 7" at the end of the summer and an LP following that. As far as the sounds go, I think we're still on the same track we were on... just further down the line. That 6 song EP we release last fall was really more of a studio project than anything. I had mentioned before that we really only practiced 2 or 3 times as a band before we started tracking. It really didn't give us much time to play as a group and understand where everyone fits in and plays a role in each song. So for these newer songs, I just think everything is a lot more thought out and developed. We really took our time with each song and we had a lot more input from the start, which made things really fun. We also added more instrumentation, which makes a lot of the songs a lot more dynamic and moody. Capaldi actually just tracked mandolin on an acoustic version of one of the songs that will be out on a release in a few months. It has a really eery vibe to it. It's pretty interesting.
How was it to go back to doing things on your own after spending so long in Therefore I Am, with whom you toured internationally and released music through Equal Vision?
I like it a lot. I loved TIA, but this is certainly a breath of fresh air for me. In TIA, we did as much as we could on our own, and we had a lot of help from our friends at Equal Vision Records, Kenmore Agency, etc. with things we couldn't handle. But for this project at this stage, it's nice to know I have my hands in every aspect of the band. Chris and I recently set up a small print shop in our living room where we print posters and all our own tees. All our CDs we print and package by hand; we even seal them with a wax seal. It's doing those things that are extremely different than TIA, but we're also a much different band. I think, all in all, it just suits the person I've grown to be at this point.
The Tower and The Fool started as a side project when you were still in Therefore I Am. Do you now consider it a full-time band?
It did. I think it depends on what full time means. This band isn't about grinding it out in a van, touring 9 months out of the year. Its basis is really about making music with people who I admire, musically and personally. Right now, it is the only band I'm focusing on. Once TIA broke up, my friend Travis who was also in TIA started a project called Ghost Thrower, which I was playing in for a little while. I ended up leaving to focus more on the Tower stuff, so all in all, yeah, it's a full-time band. It's just not the only thing we've got in our lives.
Will you be touring more often?
It's hard to say. I know we've talked about the idea's of touring, but a lot of us are grounded in Rhode Island right now. Mike has his studio, Goldrush teaches music at a local high school, so I think it just depends on the timing of it all. But we'll certainly be playing a lot of shows in the north east.
Sonically, The Tower and The Fool is quite a departure what you were doing with Therefore I Am. Was that a conscious effort?
It is, for sure. I guess I just grew away from how I was feeling when I was in TIA. I loved being in that band and the friends that were in it with me, but I've always had a lighter side buried somewhere. My mom brought me home my first cassette tape when I was 7; that was Tom Petty's greatest hits. After that, I always used to listen to all her and my father's records: Neil Young's Harvest, or Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, etc. So I've always had a really passion for folk/country music and a lot of older rock n' roll. At one point, when I was touring a lot with TIA, I'd only listen to country music on the radio - so I guess this whole shift in music for me was never really conscious. It was going to happen anyway. To be more simple, when friends ask me the same type of question I usually just say, "I'm just not that angry anymore."