Walking around thrift shops in search of the perfect pair of leopard print jeans or a showy blouse for a member of another Flagstaff band. Playing with sound on a guitar, bass, keyboards and vocals in a room colored by vibrant scarves draped over windows. Crowding around a coffee table with friends in the middle of a dim living room before a house show at Cottage House.
These are snippets of the day-to-day hangs of Four Cornered Room, local self-proclaimed “psychedelic spock” band.
“Certain things happen day to day in our lives, and I’m looking for something that inspires me or something that just hurts me—an experience that has an emotional effect on me,” said singer-songwriter Jordan Butler about the grit behind his songs.
It is these everyday experiences of life that brought about the inspiration for the group’s new five-song EP, The Wonderful Sounds of Life. They just wrapped up the recording with David James at Mudshark Recording Studios in Baderville.
“We have a new song called Laid Back. At one point in the past year of writing this album, I found I was unsure of myself, which puts you in a state of anxiety. This song reminds you that you just have to try to stay laid back,” Butler said.
His lyrics address these feels directly: “I am trying to but it’s not easy to with a girl like you.”
FCR has cultivated its creative process over the past three years.
Butler gets a spark of inspiration from a current happening and sits down in his laundry room turned sound booth to record. He layers the recording, playing a handful of instruments and doing vocals himself. Once he has a demo put together, he shares it with drummer Cullen Coker, keyboardist Chris Alagna and bassist James Corbett.
“When Jordan shares his ideas with us, the main goal is to keep the integrity of what he is originally thinking,” Coker said. “Then we just jam out and really vibe together to find how we want to play the songs to make it sound good.”
Corbett added: “What we do all together is come up with the dynamic of a song. Jordan can write a song, but it has to have a full band to come together.”
After piecing together demos and forming the sound they wanted, FCR went from recording its first album live at The Hive to working on the EP piece by piece at Mudshark.
FCR saw the change in recording venue as a big plus.
“It being our second go-around made (recording) more comfortable,” Butler said. “The first time can be nervous or a stressful experience. We went into this recording process with a calmer mindset, knowing more what we wanted to do with the songs and how we wanted them to sound.”
Drummer Coker agreed.
“The Hive was cool; people would bring pizza! But it was ultimately a bit distracting. Being out in Baderville was different because it was easier to get into the clique of things.”
With their new album comes a stronger emphasis on the genre that has had the biggest influence over Butler: jazz.
“My plan for music is to mix psychedelic sounds that I was listening to growing up, like Jefferson Airplane, and putting that stuff together with jazz, like War and Tower of Power—their groove is just so incredible,” he said. “I want that groove. I want different accents to sound like jazz because those colors of music should be put out into the world.”
There is an obvious point at classic soul feels coming from the band’s tambourine add-on, the drums, a phaser pedal and some keyboard solos thrown in as instrumental breaks.
“Music is supposed to feel good and to make others feel good too,” Butler said. “That’s why people come to shows, and I hope that’s why people come to our shows—to be themselves and kind of forget about things for a while.”
The new EP from Four Cornered Room is out Sept. 8. Hear the band live Friday, 8-11 p.m., at Fire Creek Coffee, 22 U.S. Route 66.